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Pence scraps ‘JustIN’ after controversy over state-run news agency

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 29, 2015) - Gov. Mike Pence has scrapped the "JustIN" website after controversy arose this week.

"I am writing to inform you that I have made a decision to terminate development of the JustIN website immediately," he wrote in a memo sent to all state agency heads.

Pence wrote that the website was "well intentioned" but said he made the decision to kill it after reviewing the plan and hearing concerns about the "state-run news agency."

PDF | Read Governor Pence's Memo on JustIN

Instead of developing a new website, Pence said the Office of Information Technology will work on updating the current public calendar website to make sure the "press and the public have unfiltered and convenient access to all press releases and public meeting notices."

It only took 48 hours for the governor to ax the plan that caused a national controversy.

“I can now put all of these books away. I had been brushing up on some foreign languages,” said State Rep. and House Speaker, Brian Bosma, R–Indianapolis.  Bosma jokingly put away the Russian language books on his desk while talking to reporters Thursday, poking fun at the national headlines like “Pravda on the Plains” that trashed Pence’s plan to launch a state run news agency.

“I think it was a horrible rollout of an idea that had it just been presented differently and had some elements of it removed, it probably wouldn’t have raised an issue. A free and independent press is critical,” said Bosma.

“It was being dismissed and ridiculed by people on both the left and the right,” said State Rep. and House Minority Leader, Scott Pelath, D–Michigan City.

The proposal received bipartisan backlash.  Pelath called it a stain on the image of the state.

“It’s an embarrassment for everybody. Whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican or anyone else causing it and I don’t like to see my state held in ill repute. I like for the rest of the nation and the world to think that we’re reasonable and sober thinking people,” he said.

“I think we need to better explain the intent and adjust the language because we’re crossing worlds here,” said Christy Denault, the governor's communications director.

Just a day before pulling the plug, Pence’s staff affirmed the real goal was not to be a news agency--literally flying in the face of those internal documents which told a very different story.

“He absolutely made the right decision here. It was branded at this point and needed to go away,” said Bosma.