Indiana governor taking heat over reported plans for state-run news site

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is taking heat from both sides of the aisle following reports that his administration plans to launch a taxpayer-backed, state-run news site in February.

The Republican governor, who is rumored to be mulling a 2016 GOP presidential bid, has characterized descriptions of the site as a “misunderstanding.” He now says the service, “JustIN,” will serve as a one-stop resource for press releases from the governor, lieutenant governor and the various state-run agencies they oversee.

But The Indianapolis Star, which first reported on the plans, obtained internal documents on the site’s launch detailing a plan to use $100,000 of state taxpayer funds to hire a reporter and editor to write news stories and distribute them through the “JustIN” website.

The reports touched off criticism not only from various media outlets and Democrats but members of Pence’s own party.

“I was very surprised to see that news report,” Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma told The Daily Beast. “Let’s just say it certainly didn’t look good, the way it was depicted.”

Pence, who explained the website would serve as a hub for press releases, later called the alleged mischaracterizations in the media “an understandable misunderstanding.”

"My understanding is that the website that has become a source of controversy was simply to have a one-stop shopping website for press releases and information," he said Tuesday. "It's meant to be a resource, not a news source.”

The former radio talk show host had advocated for the media while in Congress. He supported shield laws to protect journalists from being forced to give up their sources. He also opposed the Fairness Doctrine, which gives the government more control over political speech on the airwaves. The Fairness Doctrine was struck down in 1987.

Multiple requests by to the governor’s press office for details on what "JustIN" would do were not returned.