As I approach the publishing of my hundredth installment here, I took a moment this week to review. My look back was not done for the mere enjoyment of rereading my weekly episodes of brilliance or to celebrate the eloquence of the carefully chosen words. I did it to make sure that I actually told the stories I meant to tell.
It was a waste of time. What self reviews lack in objectivity, they make up for with excessive high grading. I will just need to stick to the feedback I get from the adoring public to keep me humble and honest.
Having done all of that, I will unselfishly offer up the same review to the Indianapolis Star. Grades plummeted here. The Star missed the mark twice this week, giving me opportunity to do what columnists are here to do: point errors out whenever possible.
The first whiff came on Monday, January 25, with this story: “LGBT rights: a political dilemma.” The “dilemma” described in the story was a poor attempt to create a question as to whether the business community will abandon their historical and predictable support of the nearest Republican when campaign time arrives. The story did not present any evidence of it though.
In the story, questions were asked but not answered by usual campaign financiers like the state and local chambers and Eli Lilly & Co. about their expected support during the campaign season. Senator David Long seemed to give an answer that eliminated the need for the story when he said: “I know that business leaders are actively paying attention to what solution comes from this problem.”
There is no dilemma. Over 400 businesses and business associations have signed on to Indiana Competes, a coalition formed specifically for the purpose of accomplishing expanded civil rights this year. There is nothing in the story indicating any wavering.
If the deep pocketed and influential names on that list fail to succeed on their clear priority this session, and then throw their support behind those who blocked it, then shame on them. But there is no reason to question them in a headline, and then not back up this alleged dilemma by also not providing any inkling of proof.
Here is the situation: business interests in the political campaign space will wisely invest in other leadership this year if civil rights are not expanded statewide.
Then on Friday, the Star ran another baffling story and headline. “Record Year For Indy Tourism” is a story that should have been scrapped, not published. Why? Because the “record” that was apparently referred to in the headline was one small tourism indicator. Summer leisure hotel nights grew by 1 percent in 2015 over 2014’s record high. National tourism numbers grew by almost 3 percent, another statistic in the same story.
That one statistic, which ironically also details Indy’s loss of market share in the tourism market, is the source of the misdirected headline. Literally every other item in the story paints a vivid picture of the truly horrible year Indy Tourism actually had.
Again, as was the case in the “dilemma” story, it appears the Star headline writers decided what the story was going to be before it was actually written. I don’t want to make that mistake like they did, so consistent with my headline today, let me write this:
Indianapolis tourism got creamed in 2015.
If one only read the headlines in the Star this week, one would be woefully misinformed. I will be watching deliberations on the floor of the Indiana Senate on these topics this week, and I will be surprised if erroneous attribution to one or both of these stories does not occur there. Remember you read that prediction here first.
Today’s column is not exclusively about beating up the Star though. Readers let this kind of thing happen. We have to go that extra step and actually read beyond the first 140 characters.
Maybe there were objections all over the place about these two clearly misleading headlines and stories. They were both on the front page of Indiana’s biggest paper after all.
I wish being the biggest paper mattered as much as it once did. The size of it translated into credibility. Not anymore.
Its easy for me to tell it like it is when I write. If I am ever not prepared to do that on any topic, I will just opt not to write anything at all.