From the freakout in some quarters regarding the Pence Administration’s plan for a “state news agency,” you would think the conservative Republican governor was setting up a Ministry of Information and Press like they had in the former Soviet Union. That’s not the case. This is not state-run media. In fact, it is boringly normal.
What Pence is proposing is putting all of the state’s press releases from multiple agencies into one easy to read and easy to navigate website, and providing additional content. It is not fundamentally different from what any number of elected officials have done for nearly twenty years now, from the White House blog and the President’s weekly radio address (a tradition started by Franklin Roosevelt) to the State Department’s Tumblr page.
Many elected officials do this. U.S. Senators such as Elizabeth Warren archive their press releases and editorials online. Literally hundreds of elected officials have press secretaries to release statements and talk to the media. They have official websites, blogs and social media accounts. So what exactly is the big deal here?
The answer is simple: This is not a big deal. Elected officials have always looked for ways to reach the people directly with their message and their policy agenda. If anything, the people complaining about the proposal should be praising it as a step toward greater transparency by government. We live in an age where many people get their news online, and this is just one more information source – much like Governor Pence’s profiles on Facebook and Twitter.
If Pence’s critics have a legitimate criticism, let’s hear it. This story is much ado about nothing.