Tony: The Star Stops Covering Daily Local Politics And Nobody Cares

There’s been an interesting move by the so-called paper-of-record online that signals an end of an era recently.

The Kansas City Star is scaling back their daily political coverage to an unprecedented degree.

The story of The Star’s "Prime Buzz" is a parable that spells out the doom of the dead tree media in the digital era.

Let’s take a look at their ongoing FAIL, shall we?

Long, long ago in Internet history (2007) The Star created The Buzz blog. It was a neat little site that did about a dozen posts a day regarding local politics. During the election, the popularity of the site grew and the management at The Star had the GRAND IDEA if people would pay for online content. So a popular blog with a nice following and a lively discussion board SHUT DOWN and went into hiding behind a pay wall.

And that’s how we got PRIME BUZZ.

These few months were a nice time for me because people would openly steal their content and sent it my way for me to take whatever I wanted. In the digital world NOBODY respects copyrights or the work of journalists or reporters, and the content is quickly and easily copied, edited and distributed without regard for ownership. Since the advent of the Internet this has been a fact of life that remains as such today. Don’t give me that crap about itunes because that only represents a tiny fraction of music shared online and it turns out few people like paying for music downloads anyway.

Back to politics – Prime Buzz inevitably gained popularity when it embarrassingly came back to the Internet free of charge.

Sure, the crew had their tail between their legs but they broke some pretty good stories and people even registered with their comment system in order to share in the fun.

Sadly, it always seemed like the ugly sister to the print version of the paper. In a public debate I participated in, a veteran reporter noted that journalists weren’t paid any extra to contribute to The Star’s blogging efforts and because we were in between KCMO elections the effort wasn’t as serious. Notably, after The Star fired City Hall reporter DeAnn Smith – a newsie always in the middle of a whirlwind of political activity. The quality of the site was noticeably impacted. City Hall veteran reporter Lynn Horsely stayed on but it is widely noted by Star staffers that she doesn’t know how to format a simple text link like this one I’m doing for my favorite old school hip-hop video.

So, now The Star’s daily political journal has moved again to a site called The Midwest Democracy Project. It should be noted that The Midwest Democracy project is actually a result of a nonprofit grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. They partnered with KU and there’s a $100k grant for that "project" which is essentially a non-profit work in progress.

My conclusion: The Star has determined that daily political coverage isn’t profitable.

I also don’t think it’s fair to the foundation that The Star is hosting ads on what is basically a non-profit site.

Furthermore, they really cracked down on comments. The new Prime Buzz notes: "In order to foster political discourse, MDP (an acronym that’s never gonna take) strongly encourages users to use their full name. In the site’s six months of operation, this has proven to be a huge success in bringing about smarter, more civil discussion."

Quickly, a reader responds: "Wow, I see you guys are “overwhelmed” with comments……….of course that was probably your objective (killing the voices of dissent) in the first place." I doubt it, for the most part they just seem like they’re bumbling around the Internet. Comments could still pick up but it’s troubling to watch a Kansas City institution struggle to maintain an online presence when so many other local news outlets are doing it right. For instance KMBC’s Mike Mahoney and Kris Ketz both seem to "get it" when it comes to simply putting something online that people might want to view.

It’s not rocket science.

Even worse, the RSS feed for The Star’s daily political web offering was really difficult for me to find and not listed on the front page. I contacted one of the companies listed as a designer and they basically disavowed their involvement. The techie wrote back: "I’m sorry for the confusion, but that’s not a site that we maintain. They use some of our data and programmatic offerings, but we don’t run it and consequently I’m unable to answer your question."

In these days of so many news sites, folks without an RSS feed or at least a Twitter page (which runs RSS) are off the web.

I see a few dedicated souls are hanging with Prime Buzz but in a few months I’m sure The Star will come up with another scheme. In the final analysis, it’s simply sad to note that The Star isn’t really competing when it comes to daily political coverage. It’s a rough and tumble world where nasty comments and posturing rule.

The Paper of record has just never been a meaningful player on this level and Newspaper blogs in St. Louis regularly put KC’s stuff to shame. So, bloggers without the backing of foundations and TV news bloggy efforts will continue to slug it out as Kansas City’s newspaper retreats to its print edition.

In the middle of an election, in a newspaper industry that’s quickly going the way of the Dodo…

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13 Responses to Tony: The Star Stops Covering Daily Local Politics And Nobody Cares

  1. boggy says:

    nobody cares about YOU or local politics
    Nobody gives a shit about local politics anyway, it’s all about what plays on CNN or Fox News. You should know that by now.

  2. DVD says:

    ok ok
    I get it. KCC hates the Star. Hearne hates the Star. All the writers hate the Star. Everyone hates the Star. As you have all documented so well on this site, the paper industry (along with the Star’s subscription rates) is in a free-fall. You know what that means? It means NOBODY READS THE DAMN STAR ANYMORE. This website becomes increasingly less interesting to me as it continues to grow more cluttered by posts bragging about how badly the KC Star is doing. It’s not news at this point. It’s petty, repetitive attacks. If you were to start a blog about Kansas City sports, would you devote every other post to talking about how bad UMKC basketball sucks? Of course not. Everyone knows, nobody cares. Yet that’s what KCC continues to do on a daily basis. If you don’t have any good ideas for a blog, then for Christ’s sake just take the day off.

  3. Altevogt says:

    I’m betting DVD’s IP address is at The Star.
    Yes, everyone hates The Star, and in spite of that it continues to annoy us by putting out one dishonest edition after another, embarrassing our community in the process. Svetozar Stojanovic, a Serbian academic who documented the implosion of communism, referred to the final days of communist tyranny (and The Star’s style) as “mendacious consciousness”, i.e you knew they were lying, they knew they were lying, but it gave their supporters comfort to know that they still had the power to lie so brazenly. So, as long as it continues to embarrass us and engage in its daily demonstration of mendacious consciousness we will continue to let it know that we know that it’s a mammoth POS, get over it.

  4. Hearne says:

    Here’s the deal, DVD
    With all due respect, nobody hates anybody. And I can tell you that because I know very well all the parties involved.

    It’s like this; the Star is the biggest game in town. And it throws and/or tries to throw its weight around quite a bit. Just because it’s on the wane doesn’t mean it’s not a major player – it is.

    Remember that line about power corrupting? The job of an alternative media is to serve in part as a watchdog to the big guyz. I did that at the Pitch early on and Art Brisbane hired me because he recognized I was just doing my job. He didn’t hold it against me personally.

    Pretty sure that’s not the case with the current regime. They’re pretty thin-skinned. Trust me I know – I spent 16 years there.

    They do a lot of good, make no mistake. Many fine people and writers work there. But like all of us, they get a little misguided at times.

    So I have a suggestion for you; next time you get a little weary of reading about the Star, don’t. Take a day off, man. On us. We’ll still be here for ya, we love ya.

  5. harley says:

    Hearne will be here for us…
    continuing worhtless posts about “the fall of the star”…continuing with such intriguing articles as maria writing about
    hooters hores….incredible writing by glazer about his movies/hotties/his incredible interpretation of martin luther
    king (now that was a great one!) or his dynamic post about new years eve in kc and we can’t forget his
    manuscript on the royals and his always perfect predictions about the chiefs.
    Tony…he’ll earn a pulitzer with his always negative interpretation of everything including his
    piece where he angrily lambasted ice cream magnates.
    And the entertainment pieces that noone reads nor cares about. Include more fantastic journalism from
    other failures in their careers and you have an all star lineup ready to make hearnes baby even better.
    Truth is that the pudgy little guy…roger the plumber could do a better job. His “paid advertorial” about
    winter plumbing problems should win some kind of award probably from the national plumbing
    journalism society.
    And altervogtvogt….who’s this guy and where did he cume from. The star is embarasing the city.
    Wow…I never thought anyone read the paper or even paid attention to it according to
    altervogt and hearne. You must read every article 3 times to pick up these “embarassing” writings.
    Altervogtshit says the star is lying…then give us some solid facts and let us decide what to think.
    All you give is some russian guys qoutes and then make a claim.
    Hearne says its the alternative press job to serve as a watchdog. Where the watch hearne?
    all i’ve seen is you talk about layoffs…is that your job. How about dissecting an article with refuting
    facts and show us exactly why you’re a watchdog. You’re not a watchdog…you’re a hater…
    a poodle not a bulldog. I would hardly call you alternative media. Maria’s account of drug deals
    at hooters hardly qualifies as expert investigative and altkernative journalism.
    So when does all this happen? We’d love to read it. We remember the new times and
    the pitch in their heyday when articles were published that were inventive and interesting.
    Glazers articles on the chiefs are old news…halls had some bright spots but even that gets
    old. And altervogtshit comes out of the woodwork and claims a masive cnospiracy by the star
    to destroy and embarass the city.
    If the star sucks why do you and only you pay so much attention to it. We all know whats happening.
    Its become a delivery system for advertisers. And just like most businesses its become an
    smaller enttity on paper buts its going to explode online.
    And as far as “mendacious consciousness” from volterghost….heres my consciusness…this
    tiny blog is not alternative media and you are not a good writer. The russian you qouted noone knows..
    My mendacious consciousness says just fill this site up with pics of maria and hooters girls…
    all of glazers former girlfriends…..add some sexy shots of lauren who wants to know and I’ll
    come back once a day….not t read this garbage from knownothings…but to look at some hot chics.
    Hey…it beats working!

  6. DVD says:

    Hearne
    If the Star is in fact “still a heavy hitter” and you still have such fond feelings for it, why the constant attacks on it? You can claim it’s your responsibility as “alternative media,” but at the end of the day it comes across as a KCC-wide smear campaign. These articles aren’t exactly Watergate-level exposes.

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