Hearne: Johnson County Sun on Death Row?

You know what they say about furry critters and sinking ships…

So it was last week that Johnson County Sun squire Steve Rose penned his final column as the lone journalistic survivor of the newspaper’s founding family.

After decades at or near the helm of Kansas City’s most affluent suburb’s largest media outlet, Rose announced that his repurchase of one of the company’s publications – most likely the weekly Jewish Chronicle and or other non Sun pubs – had  "allowed the current owners to cancel my column."

Let’s take a look between those thin lines.

For starters, precious little journalistically remains of the once mighty suburban weekly.

It’s not like the Sun was ever loaded to the gills with must-have news content. But in its hey day it ran circles around the Star in orange barrel news coverage and what passes for news suburbanites could use. Still for the vast majority of Kansas Citians residing in the wilds of Johnson County it was far from indespensible.

Pitch restaurant authority Charles Ferruzza honed his foodie and gossip skills there. And high school sports were well-covered in the days prior to the Star‘s epiphanous recognition of the values therein. And of course, it was a prominant podium to pitch advertisers during better financial times.

Mostly though for many – me included – it was a place to discover what was on Rose’s mind.

Which came to increasingly matter over time.

No mas.

But know this:

The king may be dead but he’s planning on living large.

While Rose’ farewell address went out of its way to give the appearance there would be no conflict of interest or overlap with the Sun – "my acquisition has nothing to do with The Sun Newspapers and very little to do with Johnson County," he wrote – it’s abundantly clear that it will.

"Johnson County still has so far to go," Rose column concludes. "And despite leaving this column, I am determined to be a part of that future."

To that end Rose’s lips are sealed. Could a new publication be in the works, an increased presence in the electronic media, as in radio and/or television? Rose declined to comment but clearly there’s something in the air.

So the Sun loses the overhead of what may be a six-figure paycheck (and more), picks up a bit of pocket change via the fire sale of one or more of its pubs, but also drops pretty much what remains of its all-but-vanished news cache.

Which brings us to what remains of what Rose sold for beaucoup bucks in 1998…

Answer: Not much.

Rose hired me to write a column there two years ago after I took a bullet at the Star with dozens of other newsies. That lasted about 10 months before dwindling finances prompted the Sun to lay me off, shutter other of its weeklies and move from its somewhat prestigious first floor office space on College Boulevard into a basement space half the size.

Then in August Rose penned a terse letter advising readers that unless they coughed up 20 to 25 bucks for subscriptions to what was left of the up until then free Sun, the paper would cease delivery effective with the Oct. 6, 2010 issue.

The $64 million question: How much longer will the family-owned News-Press & Gazette continue to publish the likely money losing Sun and its sister publications?

To invest good money after bad and to possibly go head-to-head with Rose, sans his flagship front page column.

"And what about those schmucks that paid their $25 if they they shut it down?" asks former Shawnee councilwoman Tracy Thomas. "And what’s the point of reading it now? There’s no you and there’s no Steve Rose."


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9 Responses to Hearne: Johnson County Sun on Death Row?

  1. harley says:

    too bad
    STan and shirley were great people. And steve helped everyone out.
    How could a vibrant paper in the heart of one of the most prestigious counties
    of the nation go broke. simple…but i Haven’t figure it out.
    However, the Jewish Chronicle is almost dead to. The editor (rick) was
    qouted as saying there’s only 2600 readers left. that’s got to be down
    from the high for this good newspaper.
    Steve many not have had the most fact filled articles but they were honest
    and forthright. I wish Steve luck in his attempt to resurrect a religious
    paper as the numbers of jews in kc dwindles.
    Maybe someone will take over the sun and make it a great paper again.
    RIP sun….but Steve…tell your mom and dad hello….

  2. harley says:

    KCC on death row?
    I think it is. You’ve become a mish mash of writers and have turned off
    respectable readers wanting a place to comment about current events.
    You’ve added 2 writers who know nothing about their subject beside what
    they hear on the radio. Hall is refreshing and even his jumping on the
    chiefs bandwagen resulted in the oakland loss..he still have some fun
    refreshing talent in writing.
    This guy kitchen and your hustling buddy glazer, while being probably really
    fun guys have turned off readers dramatically. give us something we don”t
    find in the msm or on sports talk radio/tv. Possible venture into politics
    and the climate in topeka/jeff city/d.c. That always get hysterical
    responses. but this site has become so stale that I’m afraid you are going
    to lose your base and be left with nothing more than a shell of your
    original project.
    There are plenty of interesting thought provoking writers available.
    Glazer writing about his masturbation not included. Or his expoits
    as a con man/liar.
    Good luck. Despite my constant harrassment of your writers for their
    comments and attempts to be serious journalists I enjoy some of the
    pieces. You have gotten away from what made your site successful
    in the start. Go back to basic. Unload whoever redesigned this site.
    Its attrocious. Its just a major setbakc. Like when coke introduced the
    new coke and they had to go back to the popular original.
    We all make mistakes. Admit them..move on and improve the site.
    Good luck. Oh and remember to put my $50 check in the mail asap

  3. JayhawkTony says:

    When Steve Rose sent that letter asking for everyone to pay for their subscriptions, I sent the postcard back telling Stevie to fuck off—and I’ve never missed an issue of the rag. It helps makes for nice, cozy fires; not to mention it is nice to see Steve go up in flames.

  4. mermaid says:

    The new KC Confidential
    Alright Hearne you are going to be mad at me but I don’t like the new format. I will still read it but won’t comment as much. Actually the comments are the best part of the site. I love it when people go head to head and fight out their thoughts. The new girl writer is horrible. Get some other people’s feedback as well but I don’t like the site as much as I used to. No one comments anymore because of loss of anonymonity. At least change the comments back.

  5. Jim Fitzpatrick says:

    The new site and the "new comments"
    The new site is a big improvement, in my opinion. Much more professional in appearance, and the substance is just as good, if not better. As a reporter and editor at The Star for more than 35 years, I witnessed a number of redesigns, and, almost invariably, some readers responded initially with moans and groans of protest. But, as time went by and people got used to each new look, the complaints dwindled. Just be patient, readers, you will come to appreciate this improvement, if you don’t already…As for the comments, have you noticed that the anonymous, nauseatingly long, profanity-laced diatribes have just about disappeared? Isn’t that progress? I say, "Yes." When you have to log in and put a headline on your comment, it forces you to take ownership of the comment and to think more carefully about what you’re writing. Isn’t that progress? Again, I say, "YES!"

  6. chuck says:

    Is Harley JoJo?
    Fitz, that company line thing is great, but there are no paragraphs!
    This truncated, squashed, restricted format makes reading and responding as unpleasant as penning War and Peace in the same closet as Charlie Sheen’s hookers.

  7. WildaBeest says:

    How could Harley be JoJo? He didn’t attack me!
    Actually, I always read Harley and Smartman. And I hope they come back, under whatever names they like.

  8. John Altevogt says:

    B- on the comments
    @mermaid Personally, I think everyone should use their real name. There are only two reasons for anonymity 1) you’re saying something stupid, and 2) you have something to say that’s important, but could cost you your job. In the first case, who cares what you think? And, in the second case, contact Hearne, or one of the other writers and let them see if what you have to say is earthshaking enough to write a story about.

    it’s bad enough people can hide behind screen names, but complete anonymity simply destroys the debate by turning it over to the trolls.

  9. John Altevogt says:

    Without Rose
    Without Rose on the front page The Sun isn’t worth bothering with. Agree with him, or not ( and I have certainly been in the not category frequently) he is a bona fide political celebrity and what he says influences a great many people. His departure indeed presents a foreboding future for The Sun.

Comments are closed.