When I started work at the Indy Star in June 2005, there was a directory of features reporters taped next to the mailbox for our department. It listed 16 names. This did not include editorial staff at INtake (which became Indy.com, which became Metromix Indy), which at the time numbered about a dozen.
As an old editor once told me, "Politicians lie, but numbers don't." And the numbers for Star features reporting tell a very demoralizing tale.
After a couple of new departures, the number of features reporters at the Star will be down to an eye-popping eight. This includes both the old Star features and INtake staff, which were combined in January 2007.
Today I learned that Neal Taflinger, the prolific nightlife and music reporter/Web guy, has given his notice. I'm not revealing any secrets, since Neal -- known about town as Taffy -- has posted his move on social media. Joining Taffy on his way out the door is Konrad Marshall, arts reporter, who had already announced his attention to leave at the end of August.
Here's a roundup of the survivors. The beats listed are somewhat amorphous, since as you can imagine everyone is picking up other bits of coverage these days:
T.J. Banes - home/garden
Amy Bartner - nightlife/dining
Barb Berggoetz - health/fitness
Jenny Elig - fashion/lifestyles
Jay Harvey - jazz/classical music/dance/theater
Jolene Ketzenberger - food/dining
Cathy Kightlinger - Talk columnist
David Lindquist - pop music
My best wishes to those remaining, who carry on the thankless task of trying to keep lifestyle and arts coverage going.