The Kokomo Dispatch

[An earlier version of this piece was posted in 2016. Points continue.}

The Kokomo Dispatch masthead existed on a print newspaper for decades. It began as a local newspaper in Kokomo, Indiana, as an enterprise and was lastly owned by the Poynter family who went on to bigger things with the St. Petersburg Times in Florida.

The Dispatch was purchased by my great grandfather, John Arthur Kautz from the Poynter family. The Dispatch name was carried as a sub-head in the Kokomo Tribune until the late 1960s when the name was dropped.

The Tribune sold in 1981 to the Thomson Newspaper group. At that point the Tribune had close to two dozen family owners, all descendants of J.A. Kautz. The family was in the situation where the death of one of the older partners would trigger a forced sale just to pay estate tax. The decision was made to sell. The market for newspapers was excellent at the time, but the sale to Thomson was not good for the paper nor for the community. The focus went from serving the community to maximizing profit. Unfortunately, this was the story for hundreds of family owned newspapers across the country.

I want to carry on the Kokomo Dispatch name which was not included as a part of the sale to Thomson. I feel it is part of my history and duty. I think the Poynters would be pleased as would J.A. Kautz since the Tribune name was passed on to others.

It is interesting to me to realize how deeply newspapers and journalism are rooted in me. Some of my earliest memories are of times going to the newspaper offices with my father. I was around newsrooms, composing rooms, and the press more times than I can imagine. I can still smell the ink and paper and still hear the rumbling of the press as it printed the thousands of copies of the paper to be delivered to doorsteps. I remember.

After the sale of the Tribune, I changed course. For years I was involved with science and the academic community. I loved that, too. I was able to make a significant contribution in evolutionary biology. I went off, too, later in other directions that hit dead ends. However, I did teach at and was the Vice Chancellor of External Relations at Indiana University Kokomo for a time. For the past 20 years, professionally I have been a certified real estate appraiser in Indiana. This has had its rewards in that I have become very familiar with about all communities in North Central Indiana and have met hundreds of very interesting and good people. My vision as a result has widened.

For years, the voices rooted within me from my decades with the Kokomo Tribune were muted. They have come alive. We are in precarious times for our country. Everyone who can should speak out. I intend to do just that.

The Relic

When driving by 300 North Union Street in Kokomo, Indiana, one would never know once here was one of the leading medium sized daily newspapers in the world, The Kokomo Tribune. What stands here now is a burned out relic; a building hollow and locked up but with memories of greatness. It is doubtful current owners of this newspaper will ever restore the building following a fire in early January 2021.

Once here was a newspaper that led in the development of production technology and that had visitors from all over the world to see how production was done. Here was a newspaper that had the latest in a new 48-page Goss Metro Offset press built by Rockwell. Here was a newspaper that led in the development of computer technology and photo composition in newspapers.

Here was a newspaper that frequently on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays had to make double runs of the press because the issue that day exceeded the 48 page capacity of the press. Here was a newspaper that had over 200 carriers that delivered the paper to the door step of readers each day.

Here was a newspaper that was determined to be “First in the Nation” in penetration of its metro market by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the gold standard, for 8 of 10 years during one decade; and only second for the two remaining years. Here was a newspaper with a paid circulation of 34,000 daily and an over 95% penetration of its market. Nearly all homes in the market subscribed to and received the paper each day.

Here was a newspaper that people wanted to read and one that was trusted for truth and for comprehensive news of its community. Here was a newspaper that had a reportorial staff of about 35 to cover hard news, sports, and community features. Here was a newspaper that editorially reflected the consensus of the community with a moderately conservative political philosophy on its Editorial page, but one that strove diligently to keep opinion out of objective news reporting. Here was a newspaper that was at the heartbeat of the community.

When the Goss Metro press was first received, the Tribune building had a large wall of glass facing Union Street so people of the town could come by and see the press in operation. It was impressive. Nothing can replace the sights and sounds of a large newspaper press in operation. They loved it.

The management of the Tribune was active and recognized. The then publisher, Richard Blacklidge, was once president of the Hoosier Press Association, The Inland Daily Press Association, and finally, the American Newspaper Publishers Association. The latter was historically dominated by publishers of the large metropolitan papers of the United States. Blacklidge was also the Vice President of FIEJ, the international newspaper association.

The Editor, Dow Richardson, was a leader in the American Association of Newspaper Editors. He led the news and editorial side of the Tribune for over 50 years.

Kent Blacklidge, the son of Richard Blacklidge, was the initial inside driver of the technological changes. He led in the development of one of the first computer typesetting machines in collaboration with engineers at Delco Electronics. He wrote several computer programs for production, circulation, and accounting applications. Kent later became publisher of the Tribune when his father retired. During his years as Associate Publisher and as Publisher, he led the paper in causes that bettered the community and the environment.

With his skills, knowledge, and spirit, Richard Isham was brought on as operations manager early in the technological change period. He, with his management team, brought newspaper production to perfection. Every 24 hours a new, fresh, and full of news newspaper was pushed out the end of the press and finally to Tribune readers.

The glory days are gone. The real Tribune family of those days has scattered, retired, or died. The Kokomo Tribune is almost gone. Even before the fire, it was a skeleton of what it once was. Both circulation and content have plummeted. Now even the physical building has been shuttered and locked. The loss to the community is immeasurable.

Newspapers once numbered about 1800 family owned and independent in this country. They were the “Fourth Estate” with power and influence to provide checks and balances on government. No more. The country is worse off for it.

Tone Deaf

To know Democrats, many newspaper columnists, and many electronic media talking heads are tone deaf or maybe worse — daft, all one had to do was read the Opinion page of the Kokomo Tribune on April 23rd. In particular, the column by John Krull, clearly a “never Trumper”, is filled with vitriol toward President Trump. Turn on your TV to most stations and you will hear much the same.

The Mueller Report states there was NO collusion with the Russians (not a crime even if so) by President Donald Trump or any in the Trump Campaign to influence the election of 2016. It took 200 pages to say that. NO COLLUSION!

President Obama knew well before the 2016 presidential election the Russians were at work. Did he warn the Trump campaign this was going on. NO. He, Hillary Clinton, and the DNC aided and abetted Russian influence by weaponizing the FBI, CIA, Department of Justice, and other intelligence agencies against the Trump campaign. He and Clinton wanted Trump defeated. He did not get that done, but crimes were committed not by the Trump campaign but by Obama, Clinton, and many in the FBI, CIA, and more. And before he left office, Obama made permanent employees of what were political appointed positions in an attempt to preserve the “deep state”.

Mueller, Weissman, and the henchmen tried to skate on the last 200 pages of the Mueller report. That half dealt with the charge of obstruction of justice. Interesting there can be no obstruction of justice when there is no underlying “crime”. Too, to be obstruction of anything, there must be action, not simply voicing anger or displeasure. Mueller wanted to muddy the waters to give Democrats in Congress the excuse for endless investigations and perhaps even the impeachment of President Trump. We are now left with the crazies in Congress: Nadler, Schiff, Cummings, Waters, Castro, Swalwell. Ocasio-Cortez, Omar and Tlaib. Those who are chairs of committees plan endless hand wringing, wailing, and harassment. It will not work.

Rather ironically, the reason Mueller had anything to say about obstruction of justice was that President Trump was totally transparent in his approach to Mueller. Millions of pages of documents and unlimited access to White House and campaign personnel, even to Trump’s personal attorney, were provided. No executive privilege was exercised; this was completely unprecedented.

President Donald Trump brought our country back from the brink of disaster. The economy is booming and predicted to continue to do so. Unemployment is at historic lows. More people working than ever in the history of the United States. Manufacturing jobs have returned. Wages are continuing to rise, particularly among the middle and lower classes. Stifling regulations have been rolled back. The USA is again respected on the world stage.

Thankfully, unlike Obama’s “wingman” AG Eric Holder, we now have an Attorney General in William P. Barr who will not be deterred in pursuing justice for the crimes committed by the Clinton side of the 2016 election Special Counsel Mueller willfully ignored. Barr will indict those who committed crimes against our country. It will take time, but Lady Justice will prevail.

The 2020 election will be more consequential than the last. It will be a continuing shining light on the hill with President Trump or economic collapse with all the freebies promised by the Democrats. That will be the choice.

Newspaper Giants

Do these names mean anything to you? Likely not. They are the giants of the newspaper industry in the mid-20th Century. This was at a time when there were about 1800 independently owned newspapers across our country. This was a time when newspapers were the source of about all news: local and national. This was a time when there were strong barriers between objectively reported news and editorial opinion. Unlike today, they were not mixed. These giants of journalism were at a time of truth news, not FAKE News.

Dolph C. Simons
John Colburn
Davis Taylor
Len H. Small
Charlie H. Peters
Harold W. Anderson
David K. Gottlieb
Allen Neuharth
Eugene Pulliam
Otis Chandler
Stanford Smith
William Armstead Jr.
Richard C. Staub
James L. Knight
John S. Knight
Bruce Clark
William Schmick Jr.
Richard H. Blacklidge
Joe D. Smith Jr.
Peter B. Clark
Joe M. Dealey
Richard C. Steele
Jack R. Howard
Crosby N. Boyd
J. Howard Wood
Nelson Poynter
Ben Bradley
Katharine Graham

This country owes much to these people. The were true bearers of the highest standards of journalism.

The News

“Yellow journalism is 112 years old today (now 123 years in 2019) and is still alive and well. The term was first coined in 1896 during a time of battle of the New York Journal and the New York World for domination of the New York city market. Critics attacked both newspapers for building circulation based upon sex, violence and crime sprinkled with emotionalism, inaccuracies, and exaggerations. What has changed?”

“Today’s yellow journalism finds fertile ground in would-be journalists whose motives have little to do with social conscience, disclosure of injustice, uncovering wrong doing or giving voice to the voiceless. These journalists-in-name only are self-seekers whose motives involve pride, profit and a program of abusing the standards of journalism. Today’s journalists, particularly those of the electronic media, are in danger of becoming entertainers, celebrities and spokespersons for the rich and powerful.”

“Too many contemporary journalists, in a rush to be first in print or on the air that has to do more with personal prestige than with informing the public, have overlooked two basic journalistic rules: 1) Find a second, confirming source, and 2) check, check again, and then recheck.”

[The above paraphrased from Allan Andrews, Former Editor of Pacific Stars and Stripes, Tokyo, Japan; 1996]

Today’s world has seen an enormous decline in the dominance of newspapers across the country as the source of national and international news. Electronic media like CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, CBS, NBC, ABC and such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal pop up everywhere. In the old days, the Associated Press and United Press International were the “wire services” that gathered, wrote, and transmitted stories to newspapers all over the country. Those organizations were held accountable by the newspaper members. Cable News 24/7 did not exist. Local newspapers mostly were the source of all news, local and national.

At one point, there were about 1800 independently owned papers in the United States and scores of independent radio/TV stations. Now there are 1500 newspapers, 1100 magazines, 9000 radio stations, 1500 TV stations, and 2400 publishers owned by only 6 corporations. Those corporations are General Electric, Newscorp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS. All appear to have both a profit and political agenda.

With the incredibly huge consolidation of newspapers and the electronic media into fewer and fewer corporations, particularly at the national level, has come the trade off of accuracy and objectivity for profit and political bias. Allan Andrews had it right then and has it right now.

Richard Blacklidge, then President of the American Newspaper Publishers Association, said in 1972, “Eternal vigilance is the price of any liberty, and surely that will continue to be true where press freedom is concerned. But, more than being vigilant, the press must above all be responsible — which is to say professional, conscientious, discreet, fair and accurate — in discharging its cardinal obligation, its reason for existence: to serve the American public as a medium of information and entertainment.”

Do today’s news sources meet this standard or is there a dominance of “Fake News”. You decide.

Krull’s Folly

It is crystal clear: Dr. John Krull, Director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and author of the Statehouse File column in the January 10th issue of the Kokomo Tribune, lives on a different planet that the rest of us. He used his column to blast President Donald Trump for his position on a border wall claiming Trump proposes a solution to a problem that does not exist. The problem: Krull is dead wrong.

The Center for Immigration Studies recently reported that each illegal immigrant costs the United States taxpayers an estimated $82,191 over the time residing in this country. This accounts for taxes paid by the illegal immigrant verses the use of social services; this is a net cost. The Center for Immigration Studies estimated illegal immigrants are costing the United States taxpayers about $16.4 Billion annually. They did not count the $59 Billion sent back to home countries.

Then there is the drug issue with the Mexican border. There were close to 70,000 deaths in the US last year from drug overdose on illegal drugs. Over 70% of illegal drugs cross from Mexico into the United States.

And the weapons: example of rifles, assault weapons, knives, and handguns were displayed at the recent meeting with President Trump and the Border Patrol this week. The Border Patrol said the seizure of weapons is a regular event at the Mexican border.

And the make up of persons attempting entry includes criminals, terrorists, transnational criminal organization members, MS-13 and other gang members. And on and on. People we do not want in this country.

Then there is the human trafficking. The sex trade involving both women and children goes on. Children have died as a result of having been pushed into horrendous travel or kidnapped for selling. It is estimated there is a 30% chance of a woman being raped by a coyote or mule during the course of travel.

And disease. We already know that a high percentage of those in the caravans have required medical care. Medical professionals are seeing diseases that are rare or not present in the US population for years. Diseases like unusual strains of TB and Dengue fever and more are showing up.

We have the cost in human lives of US citizens. There have been a total of 127 Border Patrol agents killed in the line of duty. There have been countless lives lost at the hands of illegal aliens that should not have been in the United States in the first place.

The fact: a wall is effective. It is a deterrent to traveling to the border in the first place. The Border Patrol is asking …. maybe even pleading…. for a wall on our southern border. Even the Chief of the Border Patrol under President Barack Obama has gone public recently on the side of constructing a wall. In an unintended way, CNN Anchor Jim Acosta promoted the WALL by showing there was no chaos, no one trying to cross the border, and no hordes along the section of wall from where he reported.

Conclusion: A WALL WORKS. BUILD IT.

Paris Climate Accord & Director Krull

The director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, John Krull, has done it again in his Tribune column of June 7th about President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. He refers to Trump’s decision as “dumb, bigly, yugely, and dumb”, again. He writes more like I would expect from MSNBC’s hysterical Morning Joe Scarborough or Rachael Maddow than as a responsible, knowledgeable journalist.
The Paris Climate Accord was yet another example of poor judgment by former President Barack Hussein Obama. Obama did not even have the courage to bring this agreement to the United States Congress for debate and agreement before he committed the United States to its terms. The Agreement terms put the United States at great disadvantage and would have cost taxpayers billions of dollars without commensurate benefit. The worst of the Paris Climate Accord was that the two largest polluters on the planet, China and India, would not have been required to reduce emissions, but in fact could increase them, until 2030. In the meanwhile, the United States has in fact already voluntarily reduced emissions to levels of over 20 years ago.
President Trump put America first. He has stated publicly he intends to encourage the development of cleaner energy sources. In almost the same breath when he withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement, he stated he was more than willing to negotiate a new agreement not so punishing to our country. He reminded all the United States is 20 trillion dollars in debt. We can no longer be the money bank for other countries, whatever the cause. It is up to them to deal with their own problems. This is particularly true for India and China who stood to receive United States monetary support from the Paris agreement. They are the biggest problems and we are not their savior. We need to deal with our own country and our own problems.
The climate is changing. Contrary to some right wing conservatives, the evidence is clear. There are dozens of biological indicators of change. I know of none that support ‘no change’ or insignificant change. The temperature of the planet is increasing on average. Ice caps and glaciers are melting. The range of insects, plants, and animals is being modified. Permafrost areas are melting. Sea levels are rising. There is no doubt about these.
What there is doubt about is exactly why and how much of change is due to human activity…. and conversely, how much can be influenced by behavior change by humans. We suspect root causes to be too many people and too much polluting industry. No one wants to address the former.
I am probably one of the strongest environmentalists around. I have demonstrated this beginning as long ago as the 1970’s when in top management of the Kokomo Tribune. I directed a survey of the Wildcat Creek water quality and helped to initiate the first Creek cleanup effort which continues today. The Tribune encouraged the improvement of the waste sanitation plant for better water quality discharge. The Tribune successfully opposed the creation of the Lafayette Reservoir which would have flooded over 4,000 acres of prime farmland. The Tribune was the recipient of the Izaak Walton League media award for conservation. There was more.
I believe the decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord was the right decision for the United States. It appeared too much to be a scheme for redistribution of wealth across the globe. Its terms were voluntary and not enforceable. We need to lead by example in all areas of conservation of natural resources, not be the suckers again to finance the rest of the world. Director John Krull is wrong again. One must question his qualifications to lead a university Department of Journalism.

Dying 4th Estate

The founders of our Constitution laid the bedrocks of our nation in the three branches of government: Congress, the Executive branch, and the Judiciary. They built in many checks and balances to prevent any one branch of government from becoming all powerful. Following ratification by the states, the government under the U.S. Constitution began on March 4th, 1789. Congress then did one more thing. In September 1789, they adopted the Bill of Rights and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of the 12 amendments were ratified by December 1791. The United States of America began its journey.
The first of the amendments to the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The founders knew government by the people could not continue without the free flow of information, news, and opinion. They knew people must be free to worship as they might choose. They knew people must be able to “peaceably” gather together to discuss and express individual and collective thought. They knew there must be a press — in those days only the printed press — that is free to bring facts, news, and opinion to the people. They knew. The “Fourth Estate” was born.
Two quotes are attributed to President Thomas Jefferson. The first is, “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”. The second: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter”.
What has happened to the Fourth Estate, the press? The Fourth Estate is no longer only the printed press but includes the electronic press. It has for decades. The so-called “national press” (the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC) have become weaponized. They spew gossip and propaganda every day in a steady stream. They hide behind anonymous sources and deep state leakers. They consistently violate about every principle of true journalism. They can no longer be called journalists but rather have become more like the Nazi propagandists of days of old. They cannot be trusted.
In the decades before the consolidation of ownership of the media — print and electronic — there were hundreds and hundreds of independently owned newspapers and radio stations in this country. This was true until about the 1980’s when consolidation accelerated. Before then, the hundreds went together to support the Associated Press and United Press International reporters who covered events in the nation and around the world in honorable, forthright, and truthful ways. The hundreds demanded that the highest principles of journalism be followed. In those days, radio and early television stations relied largely upon the stories printed in local newspapers as their news source. They rewrote what they read for their newscasts.
Fast forward to today. The Washington Post was purchased by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, in 2013 for $250 million. The story goes that he never looked at the accounting records of the Post. Bezos has political ambitions. He abhors President Donald Trump. He wants to be President himself. Most recently, he purchased the biggest home in Washington DC for $23 million. That should tell you something about his future ambitions. And do you think he might have something to say about what appears daily in the Post? The Post qualifies as an example of modern day Yellow Journalism; more fiction and propaganda than truth. Former Publisher Katherine Graham and Editor Ben Bradlee, both deceased, would be appalled at what has become of the Post.
And what about the New York Times? The New York Times has long been regarded within the newspaper industry as a national “newspaper of record”. Nearly 20% of the NYT Company is owned by Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim. The Times has historically been regarded as editorially a liberal newspaper. The last time it endorsed a Republican for President was for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, over 50 years ago. The Times has been used as a teaching tool in university level history and government classes for decades. The issue today is its editorial posture has spilled over into its “news” stories. Like the Post: more fiction and propaganda than truth and more hiding behind anonymous sources.
The electronic cable and television media: they still today rely on what is printed in the Post and the Times as news sources. Every broadcast begins with what headlines and stories are in two newspapers that have become corrupt and instruments of the Democrat Party and extreme liberals. People have become as sick of them as of the Washington DC swamp dwellers.
This nation deserves a free and independent press. It deserves a press that adheres to the highest principles of journalism. Part of these principles include never deliberately distort facts or context. They include identification of sources clearly so the public can judge the reliability and motivations of sources. Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere and explain why anonymity was granted.
We do not today have a national “free and independent press” in the New York Times and the Washington Post and the many electronic repeats. We have propagandists. Don’t trust them.

Pantsuit Sorrows

Yesterday I happened to be at the Indiana University Kokomo campus for a short visit. I picked up a copy of the December 5th “Correspondent” newspaper to read. Interesting until I came to the piece by Caitlyn Laughner headlined, “Broken hearts of a pantsuit nation”.
I had a problem from sentence one. Clearly, Ms. Laughner does not understand the Constitution of the United States and the process by which a President is elected. It is called the Electoral College, not the popular vote. The framers of the Constitution established a system to protect the country from being dominated by population centers. A similar structure is reflected in the make up of the US Congress. Take a look at the election results on the electoral map. The system works and has for over 200 years.
Ms. Laughner’s statement she is a “Bernie babe” says a great deal. The Senator is a socialist by his own admission. Perhaps what attracts Ms. Laughner the most of all to Sanders were the freebies he proposed; in particular “free” college for all. The voters who pay taxes and therefore, the bill for the freebies did not go for this and other proposals and positions that were completely unrealistic. Sanders was defeated in the Democrat primary with the help of deception, deceit, and dirty tricks at the highest level of the Democrat Party and the Clinton campaign. “Crooked Hillary” is about the kindest thing that could have been said.
Then Laughner goes on with her diatribe against President Donald Trump blaming him for all sorts of woes she names. This was December 5th, well before Trump was sworn in, had any authority, and had taken any action. Maybe she should take a deep breath for a while. The world is not coming to an end. The voters spoke. The system worked. Now it is time to support the country, not whine and cry about the defeat of the pantsuit candidate.

J200 – Journalism

The semester at Indiana University Kokomo is coming to an end. The campus is buzzing with students winding up assignments, taking final tests, and looking forward to at least a few days of rest before summer sessions begin.
For me, it was the end of attending a class in journalism taught by Dr. Erin Doss. Yes, I lived 20 years plus at the Kokomo Tribune including four as its publisher/CEO. I did some writing but mostly was concerned with management of a business and getting a newspaper on the door step of each subscriber every day at the same time. Formal journalism was not in my background. I wanted to learn particularly about the change in journalism over the past 3 decades. I did.
I loved the class. Just being around students and a professor who were enthusiastic about writing and journalism was refreshing. I found the cardinal principles of journalism had not changed one single bit. Reporters still are to gather news and information, then present it to their readers in as objective, complete, and unbiased ways as humanly possible. Hard news and opinion are to be separated. Features are to entertain and educate. Readers are informed about matters and issues that affect their lives. None of that has changed.
What has changed are the vehicles to get information from the heads and hands of a reporter to the eyes and minds of the reader. In my final days at the Kokomo Tribune, it was from reporter to computer keyboard to photo paper to full page paste ups to camera to full page negatives to press plates to, finally, a high speed offset press…… then on to delivery trucks for carrying to over 200 mostly teenage newspaper carriers and to subscribers’ door steps. That was the system.
Huge change has taken place. Now news starts with the reporter with final page design and layout (pagination) being done right in the newsroom. The image goes directly to machines that produce the press plates; then on to the press. The teenage carrier system has all but disappeared. Press runs are typically at night and delivery is by adult carriers in cars. But there is more: electronic media.
Even in the classroom, students were accessing news only minutes old via cell phones and computers. Social media and electronic delivery of news are the ways of today. Newsprint and ink have had to take a back seat and will likely remain that way.
I must tell you, though, that for this old dog the sounds of a press, the smells of paper and ink, and the joy of holding a newspaper in hand will never fade. Newspapers were the historical record and conscience of a community. I am not sure how this will ever be replaced.
Thank you, Dr. Erin Doss for an enjoyable, enlightening semester for this dinosaur.