Gov. Mike Pence pulls plug on new public relations website

Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN)
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Following a week of controversy, Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) is calling off plans to launch a new public relations website for his administration.

Pence admitted to Eyewitness News Wednesday that his administration made some mistakes in the planning stages of the state's new website, Just IN. A report earlier in the week characterized it as a state-run news agency, something Pence's administration denied. 

The Indianapolis Star on Monday published internal documents that detailed plans to have stories and news releases written by state press secretaries for the public and the media. The documents said the site at times would break news.

The notion of prewritten stories for the media sparked criticism from journalists around the country, who likened the endeavor to state-run media in Russia and China.

Pence's team scrambled this week to portray the website as a project aimed at better organizing and presenting news releases from state agencies.

On Thursday, Pence released this statement:

"From the outset of this administration you have heard me emphasize the importance of integrity and accountability to the public, and I am grateful for the manner that each of you has worked to serve the people of Indiana with transparency and a servant's heart.

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.

The original intent of this project was to make press releases more readily available in a one-stop website for the convenience of the press and the public. At present, approximately 50 of the 90 executive branch state agencies and commissions post press releases on the state's current public calendar website. This results in the press and the public having to visit multiple sources to stay informed about state activities.

Therefore, rather than developing a new website, I have instructed the Office of Information Technology update the current public calendar website to ensure that the press and the public have unfiltered and convenient access to all press releases and public meeting notices. The updated calendar will be fully automated and designed to post all press releases and public meeting notices in real time.

Accordingly, effective immediately, I am directing you to instruct your communications office to work with the Office of Information Technology to ensure that all press releases and public notices issued from your agency are properly displayed on this public calendar and press releases website.

It is a great privilege for us to serve the people of Indiana and I am grateful every day to serve with men and women like you who share my determination to do so integrity, servant leadership and accountability.

Thank you for your cooperation."