For over a century, IndyStar has strived to serve the greater good of central Indiana.
It’s our job to hold people accountable, expose wrongdoing and celebrate the successes of our neighbors. We recognize the privilege and responsibility that comes with our platform, and we hope to improve community conversations and speak up for those whose voices might not otherwise be heard. We do this work because it is important to us. This is our home too, and we want Indianapolis and its people to thrive.
This year alone, IndyStar coverage has connected Hoosiers to their neighbors. It has identified problematic practices and provided solutions to problems that affect their quality of life. It has influenced local and national dialogues on issues such as gun safety and access to abortion.
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Here are just a few examples of how our 2022 coverage has made a difference in central Indiana and beyond.
NBA approves pensions after IndyStar report
For years, IndyStar has reported on the struggles of former American Basketball Association players fighting for financial aid from the NBA with the help of the Dropping Dimes Foundation. The depth and impact of our coverage was evident when the NBA finally voted to provide players with a pension, a decision that will be life-changing for 115 former players and their families.
Read sports reporter Dana Hunsinger Benbow’s coverage here.
IndyStar gets Pulitzer recognition after local officials are held accountable for red flag failure
Following an April 2021 mass shooting at a FedEx facility near the Indianapolis airport, IndyStar began investigating Marion County’s application of the state’s red flag law, which victims and attorneys say could have prevented the shooter from doing so to get firearms. Since IndyStar began reporting problems with the state’s application of the Red Flag Act:
- More than 90% of Indianapolis police gun seizures resulted in red flag court records in early 2022, up from just 36% previously.
- Cases are filed faster—less than three days on average, versus an average of 27 days.
- Dozens of people were found to be dangerous, meaning they are barred from access to firearms and their names have been reported to the FBI’s national background screening system. Prior to IndyStar’s reporting, not a single person was reported to the background check system.
- Victims of the FedEx shooting filed a lawsuit against the city to seek over $2 million because authorities failed to pursue a red flag case against the shooter. These victims cited IndyStar’s reporting in their lawsuit.
Because of that coverage, IndyStar was named a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, our second Pulitzer award in as many years.
Read the coverage of IndyStar’s Tony Cook, Johnny Magdaleno and Michelle Pemberton here.
Unsung Vietnam veteran who was decorated for his exploits decades later
Indianapolis resident Fred Norris proudly served his country during the Vietnam War. At 17, Norris enlisted and was one of the first Marines in Vietnam. He later rescued a downed helicopter pilot who was running from his position through enemy fire, but his bravery was never recognized. We’ve spent months fact-checking the facts surrounding Norris’ incredible life. Shortly after the article was published, Indianapolis and Indiana state officials asked how they could help Norris get the medals he deserves. Local organizations offered their services, such as building a free wheelchair ramp or providing rides to the local Veterans Administration Hospital.
Unfortunately, Norris died on August 24 before any medals could be awarded.
Read Norris’ amazing story, narrated by IndyStar photojournalist Mykal McEldowney, here.
IndyStar’s abortion coverage impacts national conversation after Roe v. calf
IndyStar’s story about people crossing state lines to have abortions sparked a nationwide debate and influenced state legislation. The article’s main anecdote quotes a doctor by name who disclosed that she had aborted a 10-year-old Ohio girl who had come to Indiana for the procedure. The story caused a furore on both sides of the abortion debate; Anti-abortion activists, as well as some media outlets, questioned its accuracy, while abortion rights supporters – including President Joe Biden – used it as fodder to show the impact of tightening abortion restrictions.
Additional follow-up reports in cooperation with the Columbus Dispatch confirmed the girl’s existence and identified the man accused of raping her. In Indiana, a few weeks later, in a special session, lawmakers passed a new abortion law that gave pregnant patients under the age of 16 more latitude. Before the story ran, there was no debate among lawmakers about whether younger patients should have better access to the procedure.
Much of IndyStar’s coverage of post-Roe abortion legislation can be found here.
IndyStar’s coverage sparks new conversations about gentrification and displacement
IndyStar covered the eviction of longtime residents from two gentrifying neighborhoods, Riverside and Fountain Square, in two stories. In Riverside alone, a predominantly black neighborhood, the average appraised value of homes has nearly doubled in the last six years, while the median household income is just $29,000. Across Marion County, real estate values have risen at a little over half that rate over the same period. That coverage also sparked viral online discussion about the impact of the development and a popular HGTV house flipping show, Good Bones.
Families displaced from these neighborhoods are isolated.
“They’re being pushed further and further into the outskirts of town, which in Indianapolis, where transportation is a nightmare, just separates people from the community,” Nick Selm, director of Flanner House’s Flanner Farm, told IndyStar.
Read the report by City Hall reporter Ko Lyn Cheang here.
Questions about the past of the former BMV boss lead to a withdrawn job offer
After the IndyStar learned of Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles commissioner’s sudden resignation, they dove into a quick investigation that found the departure came a day after he showed up at a staff meeting apparently intoxicated. They also uncovered a long history of sexually inappropriate comments and outbursts of anger that have created a toxic environment for employees, especially women. Hours after the story was published, Virginia rescinded an offer to hire him as head of that state’s motor vehicle department.
Read IndyStar’s Tony Cook and Kaitlin Lange’s coverage here.
Purdue’s Back a Boiler program suspended after legality questions
Following IndyStar’s coverage of Back a Boiler, Purdue University’s income-sharing program, the controversial program was paused. IndyStar wrote that in the agreements, the students pledged a portion of their future earnings for a set period of time. But because of exceptionally high interest rates and astronomical prepayment penalties, many borrowers repaid more than two-and-a-half times their original loan. IndyStar spoke to several current and former students who said they felt betrayed by their university and showed the human impact of a financial program that appears to make schooling more affordable for students, but does exactly the opposite. The program, championed by outgoing university president Mitch Daniels, has come under fire for practices one advocacy group deemed illegal.
About a month after IndyStar’s first story was published, a message was quietly posted on the university’s website stating that the program is not available for the 2022-23 school year. It is unclear what this means for the students, who already have their salaries tied to these agreements. Purdue did not respond to a request for comment but has denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
Read the report by university reporter Arika Herron here.
IndyStar awards $120,000 in grants to local youth organizations
IndyStar readers and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust donated over $114,000 to support our annual Season for Sharing campaign, which harnesses the power of local journalism to transform the lives of youth in need in central Indiana. Through their donations and a gift of our own, we were able to award $120,000 in grants to organizations serving vulnerable families in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Projects supported by 2021 Season for Sharing grants included a social-emotional learning program, childcare for parents of young children attending adult education classes, direct assistance to immigrant families, and nutrition education.
Read more about this work and the programs we support here.