Welcome to the Indiana Capital Chronicle – a new venture of nonprofit journalism aimed at filling in the gaps of state news coverage and ultimately being a watchdog for Hoosiers on their government.

It’s not easy to launch a new publication from the ground up but I know Indiana needs it. When I first started at the Statehouse for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in 1999, there were far more journalists from around Indiana covering government, politics and policy on a daily basis. But as newspapers struggled, many bureaus were shuttered.

Even central Indiana coverage has lessened as outlets provide less day-to-day coverage and instead drop in for the big flashy bills and scandals.

This phenomenon has happened nationwide, which led to States Newsroom – a national nonprofit founded in 2017 with the goal of improving coverage in state capitals across the U.S. – creating a network of nonpartisan coverage. The Capital Chronicle, States Newsroom’s 28th outlet to launch, will diligently cover the three branches of state government; key state policies holding Indiana back; the political games that arise and more.

We will tackle the coverage the same way I have done so in more than 20 years at the Statehouse – focusing on the facts and getting all sides.

Staff photo
 Casey Smith, Niki Kelly, Whitney Downard and Leslie Bonilla Muñiz

 

In a way, we’re a news operation embracing the heart and dedication of the bureaus of the “old days” with a fresh twist. We’re dedicated to the day-to-day grind and being our readers’ eyes and ears in the halls of the Statehouse.

Meet the staff

With three experienced reporters and an editor, we will be able to dig deep into issues and uncover what citizens need to know on topics from education and workforce to state fiscal affairs and health care. All of us are trained and experienced journalists, including years at the Indiana Statehouse.

  • Niki Kelly, Editor-In-Chief: I have covered the Indiana Statehouse since 1999 – including five governors. I have been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists and Hoosier State Press Association for stories on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, criminal justice issues and more. You can find me regularly on Indiana Week in Review, a weekly public television rundown of news. I can be reached at nkelly@indianacapitalchronicle.com
  • Whitney Downard, Senior Reporter: A native of upstate New York, Whitney covered statehouse politics for three years for CNHI’s nine Indiana papers, focusing on long-term health and local government. Previously, she worked as the general assignment reporter for The Meridian Star in Mississippi. Whitney is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University (#GoBonnies!), a community theater enthusiast and cat mom. Find her at wdownard@indianacapitalchronicle.com
  • Casey Smith, Reporter: Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Smith has had internships and fellowships at the Investigative Program in Berkeley, California, The Indianapolis Star, the Investigative Reporting Workshop in Washington, D.C., The Washington Post, National Geographic, USA Today and other publications. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University. Reach out at csmith@indianacapitalchronicle.com
  • Leslie Bonilla Muñiz, Reporter: Bonilla joins the Indiana Capital Chronicle after covering city government and urban affairs for the Indianapolis Business Journal for more than a year. She graduated from Northwestern University in March 2021, and has reported for the Chicago Tribune, Voice of America and student publications in Evanston, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and Doha, Qatar. Find her at lbonilla@indianacapitalchronicle.com

Our reporting is available free of charge through the website and a subscription newsletter, Fast Break, which will arrive in your email inboxes daily. The Indiana Capital Chronicle licenses all of our work through Creative Commons. That means that any existing news organization, like newspapers and broadcast stations, is free to republish our stories, staff photos and other content with credit and a link to the original story.

This is a way to help educate more Hoosiers on state government actions or inaction.

“By nearly every metric, local journalism is struggling, and more important stories are going unreported or underreported in state capitals across the country. We are using a new model of nonprofit journalism at the state level to ensure that everyone has access to high-quality, non- partisan reporting on the most pressing issues affecting them and their communities,” said Chris Fitzsimon, Director and Publisher of States Newsroom.

What you can expect

The Indiana Capital Chronicle will also post stories from States Newsroom’s other outlets, including a Washington, D.C., bureau, which covers the federal government with an eye toward how it affects the states.

In addition to its news reporting, we will serve as a platform for commentary. We’re seeking fresh, fact-based views that will advance policy debates in the public interest.

Our work is based on the donations made by supporters of the independent journalism that States Newsroom outlets have provided across the country. These donors range from large national funders to individuals and families that believe in that work. The Capital Chronicle invites you to subscribe to the newsletter and, while you’re at it, to make a donation.

Democracy operates best when citizens are informed about the workings of government. Indiana Capital Chronicle fills an ever-widening gap in coverage caused by a disinvestment in Statehouse coverage.

We are trained and professional journalists who hope to try new approaches and be open to ideas on how to tell the state’s story. A reliable source, we want Hoosiers who love Indiana to help us move the state forward.

© Indiana Capital Chronicle, 2022 The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to giving Hoosiers a comprehensive look inside state government, policy and elections. The site combines daily coverage with in-depth scrutiny, political awareness and insightful commentary.