by PETER DORFMAN
Dave Askins became a journalist by accident. But his online news site, The B Square Bulletin (bsquarebulletin. com), has become an essential resource for Bloomingtonians who follow city government.
The Columbus, Indiana, native majored in mathematics, then studied German linguistics in graduate school at Indiana University in the late 1980s. That’s where he met his wife, Mary Morgan.
“She completely derailed my career plans,” Askins says.
In 1990, the couple taught English to medical professionals in Xi’an, China, then moved to Rochester, New York, where Askins resumed graduate studies in linguistics and Morgan became a reporter for the Rochester Business Journal. She soon took a job at the Ann Arbor News in Michigan. “We moved to Ann Arbor and I never finished that degree,” Askins recalls.
Among other pursuits during that time, Askins had launched a blog called TeeterTalk, featuring interviews with local newsmakers conducted while riding a seesaw in his backyard. “This was the golden age of blogging,” he muses. “I had taught myself the technical side, so I said [to my wife], ‘I can help you start your own venture.’”
He found himself covering city government meetings for Morgan’s new digital Ann Arbor Chronicle. “The Chronicle paid the bills for six years,” Askins says.
By 2018, they’d returned to Bloomington. Morgan is now director of advocacy and public policy at the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. Askins launched B Square Beacon, a digital site focused on city government.
Now 57, Askins rebranded the site The B Square Bulletin in July 2021, partly to avoid confusion with Beacon Inc., the new parent organization of the Shalom Center.
The Bulletin fills a gap in Bloomington’s media market, Askins says. His quantitative background enables him to help readers understand complex, data-driven issues (e.g., how annexation would depress county tax receipts) in ways that other media haven’t, he claims. And he strives to analyze elected officials’ pronouncements more critically than other local media.
“In a town with a robust press, officials generally don’t withhold information that might be uncomfortable to discuss, because they know there’s going to be a records request,” Askins says. “[Some] other media haven’t always been willing to pursue those requests. But that’s the job.”