Bloomington Media Fail

Last week, I got a message from Jim and Tomi Allison. Tomi is a past, long-serving Mayor  of Bloomington, Indiana (from 1983-1995) and she and Jim had  sent this letter to the editor of the Bloomington Herald-Times. After over a week with no acknowledgement of its receipt–let alone a reply–they were convinced that it wouldn’t be published.

Here is the letter:

In the coming election American voters will have a rare opportunity to defend their country’s historic ideal of representative government—a government chosen by and for the people, regardless of race or gender, in a peaceful transfer of power.  Never have the attacks on this ideal come so fast and furious:  the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol; the hi-tech gerrymanders mapped for partisan advantage in elections for Congress and state legislatures; the dark money flooding election campaigns; the attempts in state after state to suppress the vote by making it harder to register or cast a ballot; the attempts to seize partisan control of the vote counting process; the unscrupulous politicians who strive to shake confidence in our democratic elections and replace them with authoritarian rule.

What can Hoosier voters do in defense?  For one thing, they can come out and vote.  Secretary of State candidate Destiny Wells suggests that we should see Indiana as neither red nor blue, but as a purple state with a low voter turnout.  In other words, the laws passed by our representatives would be more to our liking if more voters turned out for the elections that seated those representatives.  Whereas Wells wants more turnout, her major opponent would discourage turnout by shortening the early voting period, supposedly to save money.

Never has it been so vital to put Country before Party in an election for Indiana’s Secretary of State.  Why?  Because our Secretary of State oversees the implementation of Indiana’s election rules.  And, as Political Science Professor Marjorie Hershey wrote in an H-T article of 10/02/1922, “If you can control the rules, you can control the outcome.”

This is no time to put Party before Country in the implementation of our state’s election rules—a state whose Constitution mandates and whose voters deserve free and fair elections.  That’s why my vote will go to Destiny Wells for Indiana Secretary of State.

I am sharing this letter, not just because I agree with it (although I do), but because I am bemused by the evident decision of a local newspaper to ignore a well-written, thoughtful letter from a former Mayor of the City.

I’ve thought a lot about the current, dangerous state of American politics and political debate, and I always come back to the role played by our current information environment–especially but not exclusively the disintegration of local news.

Americans these days live in alternate realities buttressed by our ability to confirm pre-existing biases by a click or two. But partisans’ vastly enhanced ability to indulge confirmation bias isn’t the only negative consequence of our fragmented media environment–studies have confirmed that people who occupy a self-selected “bubble” are insulated from news they need in order to make sound decisions and cast informed votes. (One recent study showed that large numbers of voters who supported Trump in 2016 had never heard about the accusations of fraud, the “grab ’em” tape, or other negative accusations, despite widespread reporting from more traditional sources.)

Here in Indiana, I have no idea how many people are aware of the Secretary of State’s race, aware of the very checkered past performance of the Republican candidate, or the fact that his nomination was the result of a petulant effort by Republicans angry at Governor Holcomb to deny his favored candidate the nod. Not being a Bloomington resident, I also don’t know whether the Herald-Times has reported on the race.

I do know that a local newspaper has a basic obligation to cover local and state politics  fairly and objectively–and in my opinion, that obligation extends to the publication of a well-written endorsement by a former Mayor.

I encourage readers in Bloomington–and elsewhere in Indiana, for that matter–to share Mayor Allison’s endorsement.


  1. “Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything.” Joseph Stalin

    That pretty much says it all. One party rule, which the US is quickly heading for, can and will come to pass in the US and that my friends will be the end of democracy in the good old USA.

  2. One word tells everyone why the letter was never published in the Bloomington Herald-Times. This should come as no surprise to readers/former readers of the Indianapolis Star.


    The Herald-Times is a daily newspaper serving Bloomington, Indiana and surrounding areas. The newspaper won the Blue Ribbon Daily award in 1975, 1984 2007, and 2014, naming it the best daily newspaper in the state of Indiana in those years. The newspaper is currently owned by newspaper conglomerate Gannett, since 2019. As right-wing as they come.

  3. They didn’t publish the letter because it’s an obvious partisan political advert.

  4. It must be about 5 years ago I ended my decades long subscription to the Indianapolis Star; it had become an extension of USA Today, a copy of which was inserted daily. While always being a right-leaning publication, it did at one time report local news and the Op Ed section posted a varied selection of Letters to the Editor. That gradually “passed away” but the Obituaries suddenly became a larger section with larger articles with larger print; that is when I began losing all hope of finding vital news to be available in my daily newspaper. The Colts were headline news, reported in the sports section and often had separate Colts’ section inserted along with USA Today. The Star did publish former Mayor Bill Hudnut’s comments regarding his disappointment in the turn of local Republican party to something other than serving the people. I’m glad he is not here to see what his chosen party has become in the past six years. It appears to me to be a disguised version of George W’s Patriot Act which virtually destroyed democracy when his signature enacted that bill.

    Say what you will about Facebook; I have found “news” information to research further to make an aye or nay decision; we have seen much more than enough about Kanye West and the Kardashians which can be hidden or scrolled past. Twitter is now in more dangerous hands as evidenced by Trump’s support of Musk’s $44 BILLION purchase of that social outlet. The timing of the end of Musk’s legal case makes the Judicial System more questionable regarding freedom of speech and democracy and further bastardizing of the 1st Amendment in toto.

    All of this should make the Allison’s unpublished letter no surprise in Bloomington, IN, a state so red it doesn’t even deserve mention by Republicans at the national level in this mid-term election. Indiana is a “given” regarding politics and religion.

  5. Yes, Terry, Gannett is not only right-winged, it’s a non-USA-owned company. It’s been owned by the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank since 2019.

    Last I knew, 6-7 Hoosier cities got their news from Gannett/SoftBank.

    If you send them a check, you’re wasting your money. It’s the same as voting for one of our two parties. I’ve voted at my precinct down the street for decades. I’ll report any interference, but I expect none. Most of what I hear are scare tactics, but I doubt there will be any trouble.

    The problem, I suspect, will come as Democrats lose their asses and wonder why. They even sent Barack Obama to Georgia, hoping his eloquent speaking skills would garner votes, but I doubt it. Maybe the party took an anti-war stand or stood up for the climate, but they were too busy acquiescing to the donors.

    How about doling out severe consequences to the financial network that brings about disinformation and the 1/6 calamity?

    Nope. Two years of talking and advertisements.


    Another two years of videos showing Joe unable to exit a stage while the world is on fire. #sad

  6. the musk mush. will he allow fella buddy trump to reamerge as a statistcal earner for ads to twit,endorce?musk, he’ll want his money back asap. he will select his own breed to run it as he sees fit.
    swallow hard,perfect storm for the ignorant to yell and scream again.

  7. Gannet does seem to lean to the right, but so does the AP. Look at almost every article about inflation, or the election and inflation, and every one of them will mention “Republicans blame Biden for the high inflation”, but NONE of them will mention that Inflation is a world wide problem right now and that between the economic whiplash of the Pandemic, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, every country in the world is struggling with this same problem. Biden is either really busy, or the global problem of Inflation is out of his control.

    I don’t know if the Blooming version of the paper leans that far to the right, or if Gannet has fired all of the staff and there just might not be anybody there to look at the mail. I think Gannets main mode of making money is to buy a local paper, sell off all of the valuable real estate assets and then create a shell paper that with minimal staff still might break even.

    I was catching up with a friend the other day and mentioned I voted. They asked if there was anything interesting going on with the election and then they stated, they don’t pay any attention to that stuff unless it’s a Presidential election year. The only thing they heard about was the incompetent secretary of state candidate, but it wasn’t worth taking the time to vote. Wanting to be polite and not loose a friend, I made a few encouraging remarks, but changed the subject. Otherwise I would have given them a civics lecture.

    I will have to say that in this years election, in a strongly democratic Marion County, there were very few positions that did not have Republican candidate running. There were a few school board positions that were running un-opposed, but the single candidate seemed very well qualified with no mention of any culture war issues. The other surprising thing was that in the past when there has been an opposing Republican candidate, I would Google them and they were just straw men to fill in names on the ballot. This year most (not all) had filled out surveys on Bollotpedia and actually had web pages. However, a few minutes of reading I would eventually uncover some culture war issue that they had a firm stand on. For instance, the Republican candidate for State Treasure is firmly against putting money anywhere the supports Environmental or Social Governance (ESG) policies.


  8. Imagine someone with an advanced degree in education quoting Joseph Stalin in a context he clearly doesn’t understand. It just goes to show that all advanced degrees are not worth the paper they’re printed on…especially when the holder eschews his country and sits like a snotty child pointing his finger at everyone else. #Pathetic.

    Our Denver Post, on the other hand, prints most rational letters from all sides of any discussion. Today, the editorial made an 8 paragraph plea to Colorado voters to NOT vote for Lauren Boebert. And in the LTE section, several letters bashing a right-wing column conflating socialism with the holocaust and the Nazis – including one from me – took down that columnist hard. Colorado is divided too. The greater Denver area votes 80+% blue, while just 70 miles down the road in Colorado Springs (1/4 the size of us up north) is ruby red and rushing backward toward the 18th century as fast as THEIR editors and LTE writers can take them. We do, in fact, show the partisanship that is dividing our citizens from one another.

    But, unlike the naysayers, the finger-pointers and the cowards, ALL of us choose to fight for our Constitution and egalitarian fairness. We STAYED here to fight. We don’t thumb our noses at those we ran away from. And those of us with advanced degrees in education and other areas, honor the lessons gained from that work in order to be the best citizens we can be in order to make our country a greater place to live. Let the cowards and the spoiled children who have a way-overstated opinion of themselves run away and hide. Those of us who retain a spine will stay and fight for what’s right, foreign-owned news companies be damned.

  9. The war against Democracy is not evidenced by alternating red and blue Congresses, Presidents, Governors, State Legislators, and local governments. The fact of those changes where and when they occur is evidence of democracy.

    No, the war against democracy is evidenced by all the state’s efforts to reduce voter turnout and distinguish votes in some places as more influential than in others. The only reason to do those things is to grant more authority to some cultures than others.

    That is in turn evidence of the corruption caused by power.

  10. Off topic, but I read a new term yesterday called “Stochastic terrorism”. “Stochastic” is a mathematics term used in probably analysis. It helps you measure random events. Given a large enoug sample, you can plot a probability distribution but it will may or may not result in a precisely predictable result.

    “Stochastic terrorism” was describing repeated calls by Republican politicians for violent action to somebody eventually acting on those calls. The specific context was the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband. Of course the right wing media painted the incident as rising random violence and out of control crime.

  11. I am surprised to read that so many people never heard of the accusations against Trump, or of the “grab ’em…” quote.
    “Vulture”, or should I say, “Vampire” capitalism has destroyed news reporting across the country, it appears, and
    as a result the few have the means to dictate what is, and is not, learned by the populace.
    It appears that most of the readers here, are from Indiana, or have close historical ties thereto. Please spread this
    Sheila posting around, wildly!

  12. Our governor calls Florida the most free state in the country. I can see why. He has made us free from the strictures of logic, free from any history that even hints that the good old US of A has ever done anything even remotely wrong, and finally free from decency. What a way to go!

  13. Root causes so aptly pointed out in this blog at least weekly:
    – Education (lack of): civics, visual literacy, media literacy, critical thinking
    – Death of objective journalism, especially local – 2 local papers die in US every week
    – Reduction of the voting population in Boomers and older. Millennials and younger are about ME/my tribe/having fun

  14. We folks in Bloomington are cutting that cord to the HT.
    Earlier this year, the editor made the determination that letters to the editor would be published ONCE A MONTH. Last week there were three letters published, and we expect no more before the election. We expect no more before election day.

    Gannett has ruined our local paper by firing writers, local writers, local photographers, and has replaced the much of the content with huge full page ads that one doesn’t even notice. No publication on Saturdays, either. We’re relying on the Bloomington Beacon (@DaveAskins) for governmental news, and the Bloomingtonian (former photographer) for breaking news, both on Patreon. Of, course the IDS is still publishing, but not every day.

    Grieving in Bloomington……

  15. Regina, the solution to the oligarchic papers is open source which is what Jack Dorsey wanted for Twitter but got voted down for the usual advertising model in the USA. We’ll see what Musk has in store for the company. I know Trump is back, but we have the right to block him also. 😉

  16. Regina Moore is 100% correct; the IDS is our paper of choice. The loss of local coverage is a precursor of a failure of democracy. Support your local news!!

  17. What Regina said. The Herald Times is no longer a local newspaper. Maybe it will publish something 3-4 days after it happened. Not a reliable source for what is happening. Welcome to corporate jpurnalism.

  18. The canary in the coal mine for the press might be Detroit – when the Gannett owned Detroit News (always conservative, now worse) was allowed to “merge” with the Detroit Free Press (always liberal, still is), after a false claim of dire financials. After the merger, the Free Press kept its liberal editorial board (disclosure – a have a cousin working there). If they are stifled, that marks a real turning point. So far, at least some modicum of free reporting is left there.

    Lester is right on the solution, echoed often by Sheila as her pet complaint, but I will add one more – “crap detection”. I had a sociology professor tell me that “crap detection” was the whole point of a college education, but we need to teach that earlier.

    I noticed Todd Young taking credit for the Chips Act, so I, unlike most people, I suspect, looked it up. I know Young didn’t originate the act, but was he a co-sponsor? No. Did he at least vote for it? Yes. Sorry, but one out of three doesn’t make it “his”. Do most voters check out the claims made in political adds? Do they compare promises made during the primaries with the “moderated” tones many candidates switch to during the general election?

    “Radical Liberal” is an epithet used in most Republican attack ads. Do people understand what that means? Especially when that is used on everyone to the left of Stalin or Genghis Khan.

    And I won’t even get into ads in the medical sphere ,,,,

    Balderdash is balderdash – people need to learn to recognize it early in life.

  19. Vernon, I would award you an F for your failure to recognize an accurate quote.

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