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Longtime city hall reporter latest to leave Star

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An exodus of high-profile journalists continues at The Indianapolis Star, with city hall reporter Jon Murray planning to take a similar beat next month at The Denver Post.

The Colorado native announced his plans Monday on his Facebook page. Murray worked at the local Gannett Co. Inc.-owned newspaper for about 10 years.

"I’ve enjoyed my 10-plus years at The Star, but this was too great of an opportunity to pass up," Murray told IBJ via email. "I’m excited to return to my hometown."

Robert King, president of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, said Murray will be missed.

“Jon’s done some great work for us on a high-profile beat. He’s been great at social media and in getting the word out quickly on breaking news,” King said.

Star Editor Jeff Taylor did not respond Thursday morning to a request for comment.

The Star recently lost its biggest source of institutional knowledge on state government when Mary Beth Schneider resigned to take care of aging parents. Schneider covered the Statehouse since the second term of former Gov. Evan Bayh in the early 1990s.

In late-December, The Star dismissed its longtime food writer, Jolene Ketzenberger, for operating a personal website about the local culinary scene. The site, EatDrinkIndy.com, does not accept advertising, but the Star perceived it as a conflict of interest. Ketzenberger said she declined to disable the site.

In November, long-time northern suburbs reporter Dan McFeely quit the paper to launch his own marketing firm. His first gig was with the city of Carmel, which he formerly covered as a Star reporter. He could earn up to $99,000 under a contract with the city to conduct research and write about Carmel’s splendor.

Late last year the paper’s education reporter, Scott Elliott, resigned to set up a not-for-profit education news site known as Chalkbeat Indiana. The site plans to cover institutions such as Indianapolis Public Schools, the Indiana General Assembly and the State Board of Education.

Last summer, the Star’s “Talk of our Town” columnist, Cathy Kightlinger, quit the paper to take a job as director of public relations for the Long-Sharp Gallery.

The departures are on top of numerous involuntary reductions since Central Newspapers Inc. sold the paper to Gannett in 2000. In one round, in 2011, 62 employees were let go, including 15 percent of the newsroom staff. That left 136 newsroom employees, down from 230 in 2007.

Last July, in the fifth round of cuts in five years, another 11 newsroom employees were terminated, including two seasoned managers and three copy editors.

The daily newspaper plans to relocate this summer to the former Nordstrom department store space at Circle Centre mall. Gannett has agreed to sell its Star campus at 307 N. Pennsylvania St. for $11.25 million to locally based TWG Development for a large-scale apartment project.

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  • I started taking the Fort Wayne paper
    I also gave up on the Indianapolis Star. To get news, I take (by mail) the Fort Wayne paper. While Fort Wayne does not cover Indianapolis.....neither does the Star. The Fort Wayne paper does cover the State House, Education, Crime, and national news. I hope a real newspaper will open in Indianapolis.
  • Are You Serious Adam>
    Adam - I completely understand the difference between simply giving facts and offering an opinion of what the facts mean in terms of public policy, government operations, etc. Please don't use FOX News as a standard beared! You will be laughed out of the room by anyone familiar with fact finding and applying sound methodologies to the process of fact finding. FOX News relies heavily on pseudo reports, fear, and the general ignorance and biases of the US population.
  • Reporters?
    Perhaps you don't understand the concepts of reported news and opinion writing. Tully and Smith are not reporters, good or bad. They write their opinions on local news. Despite Fox News' attempts to the contrary, reporting and commentary are two distinct kinds of writing.
  • Star Needs More In-Depth Stories Similar to What Tully and Smith Provide
    I find it interesting that many commenters criticize Tully and Smith. I am not sure why since they are the only 2 op/ed writers that bring some in-depth analysis to the paper. I think it is interesting that they are making some of the commenters think although it appears that the views of Tully and Smith are dismissed. I also find it interesting that the commenters seem to always disagree with them. I can only surmise that the commenters lean to the far right on the political spectrum. But I do agree that the Star needs to do more in-depth analyses of the state legislature and the city administration. I would ask that the readers of Smith and Tully read the op/ed pieces with a more open mind. I would also challenge the commenters to be more specific about the criteria that should be used to gauge the quality of the articles in the Star.
  • Tully & Erika Smith
    What is shocking is that the weakest link from day one of the new management of the Star has been the columnists. Matt Tully has been phoning it in for years and Erika Smith writes almost exclusively pro puff pieces for mass transit. Tully and Erika Smith flat out refuse to write about anything controversial or take on local powerbrokers. Local news on the Star is virtually nonexistent. I picked up the Star last Sunday, and there was an old Tully and Smith column and an abbreviated Behind Closed Doors column, which I have no idea why they shortened. The only major piece was a new story on the positions the legislators were taking on HJR-3. I have been saying that the Star would go to an Sunday only printed paper with online content the rest of the week. But frankly the content of the Sunday paper has declined dramatically as well.
  • The Star
    It is sad to say, but the Indianapolis Star is slipping at every change that is made. Gannet sucks as an owner. USA Today is a poor substitute for local writers.
  • Local News???
    Odd that the local 'business' newspaper has better general news reporting than the Star or any TV station. Star 'reporting' is a joke - no local depth and a lot of USA Today trash. Canceled receiving this paper years ago - but still can't get them to stop throwing the Sunday advertising on my driveway!
  • Really?
    I wondered what happened to Jolene Ketzenberger. The Star is a joke!
  • What's Going On?
    I agree with an earlier comment that Erika D.Smith definitely writes propaganda, Tully also, don't like much anything they write. It appears the Indianapolis Star is gasping for air: the only things that will be left to read are sports,obituaries, ads advertising rips offs and nonexistent employment opportunities and finally puppy mills.
  • Wrong Staff Leaving
    The wrong Indianapolis Staff are leaving and/or being terminated. The staff leaving and/or being terminated are so-called cream of the crop. People like Matthew Tully and Erika D. Smith should be the ones leaving the Indianapolis Star and returning to their home areas of Gary, Indiana and Cleveland, Ohio. They are absolutely terrible "news reporters". The Indianapolis Star has been a seriously 'bad' joke as a newspaper for a very long time!
    • Star Is Not the Problem
      Most of the reporters seem to be leaving for other opportunities, not because the Star is doing something wrong. I would hate to see Mathew Tully or Maureen Groppe leave; they both bring seasoned and thoughtful reporting to the Star. Regarding the quality of the Star reporting, I suppose that is in the eye of the beholder. I think the Star reporting has been more balanced over the past few years and the Star Editorial Board op/ed pieces have been on target in most instances. Occasionally I see some shallow reporting by some reporters but, by and large, the reporting is decent. I think the Star falls down in doing investigative and more in-depth pieces when it comes to the state legislature and city administration. Reporters need to hold them more accountable for facts and motives.
    • oops
      ". . . is only ½ page . . ." Make that "½ column."
    • print to fit
      In other words, “all the news print to fit.”
    • left hand, right hand
      Articles in the “Star” section often are repeated in the “USA Today” section, worded differently. It seems that the left hand doesn’t know (or care) what the right hand is doing. The page of comics that usually is in color often isn’t. “Let It Out,” imho the best part of the paper, is only ½ page and not even that on Sundays. The extra crossword puzzle on Thursday is nice (more challenging). The extra crossword on Sunday (USA Today) is also nice, but not especially challenging. On Thanksgiving Day, instead of running a monstrous 2-page puzzle with tiny boxes that is impossible to work, it would be better to have 4 Sunday Star-sized puzzles spread over the 2 pages.
      • taps
        The star is no longer a viable news source in the Indy area, SAD
      • Backstroking away from the sinking ship..
        ..soon, very soon, it will be Matthew Tully and Erika D. Smith, staff propagandists, holding down the fort under the astute tutelage of Dan Carpenter.. The Star is little more than USA Today lite... Sad, very sad..Eugene Pulliam is spinning in his grave.
      • Resignation
        Another sad resignation to the local news information site.
      • the hits keep coming
        The front section of the newspaper which formerly held news stores is now a mix of large photos, fluffy feature stories that belong elsewhere, and full-page car ads. There is little actual news. We get to look forward to the mindless blabber that is 'chicks on the right'. Thank goodness for IBJ

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      1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

      2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

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