How did media affect Ballard's win?

November 8, 2007
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Election Day was no high point in the annals of Indianapolis media. How could we have missed such a big story, that Greg Ballard was about to upset incumbent Mayor Bart Peterson?

Local news organizations treated Ballard as an afterthought until a poll released late last month showed him closing in on Peterson, and as recently as last night Ballard still was such an unknown that WTHR-Channel 13 felt compelled to introduced us to his wife, Winnie, and tell us they were homebodies.

We at IBJ have no grounds for throwing so much as a pebble. Our archives have just one article mentioning Ballard, and it wasnâ??t even a profile. He was among three sources quoted in a story about Petersonâ??s push last summer to fund the police and fire pension shortfalls with an income tax increase. (Ballard preferred making sure enough cops were on the street before dealing with the pensions.)

The easy excuse is that Ballard was so under funded and ignored by his own Republican party that it wasnâ??t worth throwing precious resources at covering him.

Did a lack of media scrutiny of Ballard change the result of the election?
  • That is because Bart had the media is is back pocket. The star did everything it could to make sure that Bart would get re-elected.
  • Well, if noone thought Republicans could ever get back into City government, then one could conclude that ALL media outlets easily plugged into this notion.

    All of us could stand to be reminded not to get too comfortable in the positions we find ourselves in, not to take anything for granted, and be mindful of why and how we got there.
  • I have found one thing to be true. No matter what happens, Life is like an ice cream cone; You've gotta lick it one day at a time.
  • What folks are overlooking is that Julia Carson did not come out in favor of Bart until one day before the election, and the Carson Machine in the Carson Machine did nothing to get out the vote in the inner city. I think they thought it was unnecessary because Bart would win no matter what.

    Where was the polling ? Two days before there was one poll that said they wre neck and neck, but that came out too close to the election and got no media attention. Very little other polling.
  • I agree with Me too...there wasn't any polling out there until 2 days before.
    I noticed the increased negative ads by Peterson against Ballard which I thought was a sign of it being a close race. But no other news organizations brought that story up. I saw nothing about the POSSIBILITY of Peterson losing prior to the election. I think it shows you how vulnerable our news organizations are (TV & Newspapers). The TV stations especially, get so wrapped up in making sure we know who has the best weather coverage and Friday night high school sports coverage...that they forget that there's real stories out there that need to be covered. Peterson vs. Ballard was one that they obviously missed.
  • What I can't believe is how surprised everyone is. Overtaxed property owners in Marion County are sitting in real fear of the coming tax bills, with no signals that anything is actually being done about it. There is fear that politicians hope it will blow over. You cannot underestimate the importance of this issue. It motivated a lot of people to make it to the polls who may have let this election pass - I am one of them.

    The neighborhoods with the 100%+ tax increases are also the neighborhoods that understand that voting is the only way to actually do anything about it. Even if it is just sending a message. There were celebratory fireworks set off in MeridianKessler Tuesday night.

    Did lack of coverage help Ballard get elected? Maybe, because for many voters he is a blank slate onto which they project their hopes.

    On the other hand, he owes no one at this point. What a great place to start leading from.
  • I blog on the American Values Alliances ( and comment frequently on others. I can tell you that while the traditional media missed this one by a mile, the blogosphere was dead-on with its moment by moment commentary on the election. Indy Undercover (, Taking Down Words ( and Indiana Barrister ( among many other fine blogs, emerged as the leading media sources for insightful commentary and late-breaking stories. The comments on their blog entries were telling and an excellent gauge of the temperature of the electorate and the links and video posted on these sites made it pointless to seek out information in sources like the Star.

    What I find deeply troubling is that the traditional media (including the IBJ) seemed tone deaf to the goings-on in the blog world, seemingly if it didn't involve paper and ink, it wasn't really relevant.

    Keep it up, and the traditional media may find itself in the unfortunate position of becoming increasingly irrelevant as more people move to the blogs for news.
  • Let's face it, I think everyone was surprised by this. Yes, there are plenty of Monday morning QB's out there who will say they saw this coming, but truthfully I think everyone was shocked. I don't think we can lay a lot of blame on the media for missing the boat on this one, however, complaints that the media didn't do their part in informing voters on each of the candidates is probably fair. And, we could talk about the quality of the media in this market for days-- the Star can't even pull together a decent business section without using WSJ and USA Today articles that are a couple of days old!
  • Greg Who? - Point taken. Everyone WAS pretty shocked at the election. Maybe it is more accurate to say it was surprising everyone assumed Peterson would be re-eleced, given the mood of voters. All politics ARE local - and right now in Indy they are neighborhood local, not district local.
  • Huh?-- by they way, not all of us in M-K were celebrating. I think blaming Peterson for the proprty tax issue is unfair. Yes, every level of government takes some blame, but the whole system needs to be corrected by the state. (And, for sake of disclosure, my wife and I were nailed with a 125% property tax increase-- giving me more than enough reason to be mad at anyone!). I think the bigger problem was the timing of Peterson's income tax increase. That was on the table for a long time and probably needed to be done, it just happened to hit at the same time at the property tax mess. Let's face it, Ballard is going to enjoy the fruits of Bart's income tax increase-- as he should! Wouldn't you love to be the guy who says I didn't ask for these taxes, but I can sure figure out how to spend them!
  • There was a poll on the Mayor's race released 2 days before the election? By who? Was it media or from a campaign. The only media polls were from the Star/Channel 13 3rd week of October and Channel 8 in September. What poll are you talking about?
  • Let's do a quick survey of media political editors and see what zipcodes they live in (not talking about the people who actually write the stories). Let's also see how many of them have lived in central Indiana long enough to understand the political terrain. The Star probably helped Mayor-elect Ballard with their stories and their editorial stance certainly was a blessing. Thanks to the out of state media owners for taking away local coverage and replacing it with snow stories in Denver.
  • The campaign was: Rex & Loftus run an empty suit whose only line is: Whatever you're mad at, I'll fix it and look whhat happened. You'll soon see it will be the usual suspects - Lofty, Early, newman, Goldsmith, etc running the show.

    You got swindled folks, if you thought this guy was anything more than a puppet for the Jim Kittle's of the world.
  • Anyone who listened to Abdul Hakim-Shabazz at Newstalk 1430 (who also writes for the IBJ) saw this coming. Ballard was a frequent guest on his show while the only time the Mayor would show up is when Abdul interviewed him somewhere else and brought the tape back and played. Abdul said Ballard could pull it off because of the taxes, even if only by a few points. He was right.
  • Shouldn't the media cover both candidates regardless of who they think is going to win? Isn't it that the media's job? By deciding the outcome of the election and covering the candidates based on that determination they can sway the election. Although it did not work this time, that should not be the role of the media.

    The election and its candidates are news worthy, let the voters determine the outcome.

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