After media complaints, Indiana governor ends plans for brand journalism site

Gov. Mike Pence sent a memo to state agency heads telling them to continue to post press releases to the state’s public calendar website.

Brand journalism has become a big trend for businesses, but a recent decision by the governor of Indiana may set a precedent for state and local governments: It’s a no-go.

In a Thursday memo to agency heads, Gov. Mike Pence wrote this of the planned, state-run JustIN media website:

As you are aware, concern has arisen regarding the development of a new website for the state of Indiana.

However well intentioned, after thorough review of the preliminary planning and careful consideration of the concerns expressed, I am writing to inform you that I have made a decision to terminate development of the JustIN website immediately.

Pence wrote that the main intent of the new site was to give state agencies a place to post press releases. Since the site is being scrapped, he told agency heads to post releases to Indiana’s existing public calendar website.

According to the Indianapolis Star, however, plans for the site went beyond press releases. The paper obtained administration documents that indicated the site would also include news stories written by state communications officials, to be overseen by a former Star reporter.

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