Today: The Case of the Uncorrected Error & the Mike Hendricks/ Derek Donovan Tap Dance

It’s like this…

Unhappy with how the Kansas City Star blithely presented the results of a recent study about the smoking ban having no measurable effect on bars and restaurants, KC Business Rights Coalition head Bill Nigro took it to the next level.

"I called up Jessie Barker, the editor of the reporter who wrote the story," Nigro says. "And I told him all I got was like two sentences in there about making people go outside like animals to smoke and how now people werre outside drunk and unattended to."

Nigro’s quotes were accurate, but were asides in a 20 minute presentation citing examples of small businesses hurt by the ban.

Long story short, the editor agreed to have columnist Mike Hendricks call him and do a followup story.

Here’s where it gets ugly…

Hendricks interviewed Nigro and a couple bar owners who have taken business hits because of the ban, but when it came time for Mad Mike to synthesize Nigro and the Kansas City Business Rights Coalition’s complaints, he blew it.

"He couldn’t have gotten it more wrong – more incorrect," Nigro says. "Because that is not our position."

Here’s where Hendricks stubbed his toe…

"Naturally, no one expects the KC smoking ban to go away," Hendricks wrote. "The message Nigro’s group wants to impress on candidates attending City Council and mayoral screenings this week and next is that they deserve a fair shake by:

A: Making the casinos’ exemption to the smoking ban go away.

B: Working to get a statewide ban in Missouri — like the one in Kansas — so the bar owner in Kansas City, North, won’t lose customers to a tavern three blocks away in Gladstone, where smoking is still allowed."

"That’s not what Bill Nigro or the Business Rights Coalition want," Nigro says. "That’s what the Star wants. The Kansas City Star will never tell the truth about the smoking ban – never.

"All we said was, we want to have a level playing field and he assumed that that was the only alternative we have. But it’s not. Mike assumed that was the only solution for us but in doing so he put words in our mouths that just aren’t there."

So Nigro bellied up to the corrections bar and spoke for 15 minutes or so with controversial Star editor Mike Fannin.

Net result?

"We got a clarification," Nigro moans. "The clarification was really simple. It basically said that not everyone in the Business Rights group was in favor of a statewide smoking ban."

That do the trick?

"No, not even close," Nigro says. "Because our organization is not in favor of a statewide smoking ban and we’re not in favor of eliminating smoking at the casinos. We’re not in favor of either of those."

The bottom line: Hendricks dodged the "correction" bullet by talking his editor into a "clarification" even though it was an flagrant error.

"It was a major mistake," Nigro says.

Nigro’s message to Hendricks:

"I’m just still mad that he would make something up like that and just stick it in there. Give us a correction. This makes two mistakes in a row. When’s the Star gonna quit making mistakes and when will they admit they made a mistake? To me, if you gotta make a correction, you make the correction. I don’t see why it’s such a big deal.

Worse yet, "They didn’t even clarify or correct i t online," Nigro says.  "And I think more people read it online now than get the newspaper. So everybody who reads the Star online thinks that’s our position and it’s not."

The latest: Nigro called Star reader rep Derek Donovan to plead his case for both online and print corrections.

"Man, that guy’s hostile," Nigro says. "He’s a dick. I just told him what the deal was and he said, ‘That’s not what I was told. I heard we corrected it.’ And I said, ‘No you didn’t. You put a clarification in, not a correction.’ So he took my number and said he’s going to call me back."

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20 Responses to Today: The Case of the Uncorrected Error & the Mike Hendricks/ Derek Donovan Tap Dance

  1. Bill Nigro says:

    sorry
    Derek Donovan, sorry about the dick comment, I didn’t think Hearne would print that. My apologies. Bill Nigro

  2. Mike Hendricks says:

    Talk to me, Hearne
    What is it with you, Hearne? You’ve written scads of pieces about me over the last two years, yet never had the balls to call me to ask for my side of things. That is low.
    .

  3. Former Star Editor says:

    Don’t Apologize, Donovan Is A Dick
    I left the Star a handful of years ago, well before the shitstorm of the last few years of layoffs…I’ve contacted Derek on a handful of occasions because of errors that were made because a Star reporter and/or copy editor don’t bother to actually really read news releases for the dates.

    Over the years, I’ve contacted Derek to ask for a handful of corrections, but most of the time the usual response from him is “It doesn’t qualify for a correction.” So, Derek, please tell me what qualifies for a correction. It’s interesting that the Star can publish the incorrect date of an event (including publishing the date of an event in a calendar–an event that happened 3-4 weeks earlier), so then we have to deal with the pissed off patrons when they show up to an event that has already happened, and despite your FUCK UP, you won’t print a correction.

    A mistake/error/incorrect info/ is a mistake/error/incorrect info is a mistake/error/incorrect info — It doesn’t matter. Just print the correction and move on. It’s not that fucking difficult.

  4. Hearne Christopher says:

    Facebook message me your cell number.

  5. Hearne says:

    If there’s such a thing as being miscast…
    I think Derek – who by the way is a nice guy in real life – is miscast in his part time role as Reader Rep. I’ve sat in on the post a time or two while working at the Star, so I can tell you what it’s like. Many – if not most – of the calls you get every day are from readers who have bones to pick. What might be considered a minor error or something that might be clarified are presented as unforgivable sins. Often in very harsh language. Complete with inferences of ulterior motives, based upon the supposition that somehow the newspaper is involved in a conspiracy.

    It’s not generally much fun taking those calls and the kudos and compliments are few and far between.

    But the reader’s rep is supposed to – within reason – try and look at things from the reader’s vantage point. Even if it is served up ugly by the person calling to complain or point out the perceived error.

    Derek is, simply put, too thin skinned for the job.

    I remember last summer Jim Fitzpatrick telling me about having called Derek. Jim is the portrait of politeness, a gentleman. Maybe that’s why in part he’s no longer writing here on KCC. But even on his freshly-minted little jimmycsays blog, Derek put Jim in his place by telling him that he doesn’t normally talk to anti-Star bloggers.

    To do Derek’s job right, you have to have broad shoulders where callers and readers are concerned. On top of that, you need to be willing to swing a pretty big bat at 18th and Grand and not be afraid to call out editors and reporters. Columnists, even.

    And the one card you need not to play is the one where you alienate readers by being rude or defensive. Those are areas Derek falls down in.

    Since many newspapers have gotten rid of their reader reps and since times are incredibly tough, standing up to editors is not an easy task. Especially since the Star has made it clear that the position has been devalued by making it a part time post. Derek has been in charge of the library, has written for everything from the celebrity gossip section in FYI to music and food reviews. And he’s the RR.

    Clearly he’s human and lives with the knowledge that he too is expendable. Everybody at the Star deals with that.

    The reader rep that was at the Star when I first went to work there was feared by the editor and editors. Maybe a better word would be, annoyed. But when he came after us with reader concerns, he came out smoking. And not many bullets were dodged by reporters and editors on his watch.

    It’s a different world today altogether.

    But if the Star wants that position filled, they need to make sure they have the right person taking the right approach.

    Frankly, how someone can get the key objectives of Nigro’s group dead wrong and not correct it is a complete mystery to me.

  6. Gerald Bostock says:

    I don’t understand, Bill Nigro. Apparently, it’s OK for you to think that Donovan is a dick, and it’s apparently OK to tell Hearne that you think Donovan is a dick, but it’s not OK for Hearne to print that you said that Donovan is a dick? You want Mike Hendricks to publish exactly what you say about smoking ordinances with your exact spin, but you don’t want Hearne to print your exact description of Derek Donovan? It’s evident that you do not have a clear understanding of how reporting works, and this leads me to question the validity of your side of the story in this back and forth with The Star.

  7. harley says:

    sorry….but this whole thing stinks…and smells
    and is dangerous. Mr. Nigro…of course the casinos can allow smoking…they have millions
    of dollars to pay off the politicians…thats the way it works…and no amount of
    your lobbying is going to change that.
    The smoking ban is good. It gives us choices…is nt that what america is about?
    If I don’t want to go and smell the disgusting smell of cigarettes I go to the non smoking
    bars. sure the people have to smoke outside..but to me they are disgusting.
    Why? Because one day I’ll have to pay for their disgusting habit. My tax dollars go to
    pay for their cancers/their heart problems…their heart attacks…if they go on medicare their
    habit of choice will cost me millons/billions of dollars. Their habit accounts for about 40%
    of all health care costs. so fuck them. Outlaw all cigarettes…we outlaw drugs that kill people…
    we outlaw products that kill people…what about this disgusting habit that I have to pay for
    thru mytax dollars. I say make them smoke outside in buildings filled with shit. Make them
    smoke in freezing weather….i have to pay for your inability to control your health so i say
    fuck them. If we outlaw nicotine we could save billions/trillions of dollars…but the
    tobacco lobby won’t let us do it.
    I don’t want to smell their filthy habit. They too have choices…go to smoking bars and enjoy
    themselves…but as long as my tax dollars fo to pay for their worhtless habits and their
    inability to kick the habit…i say “let them eat shit”……i’m tired of paying for their medical bills.
    I don’t smoke. Let me have my choices too. and until these animals that smoke are paying
    their own bills and i as a taxpayer won’t have to pick up the billions spent on their diseases I
    say let them go to hell.

  8. John Altevogt says:

    Derek is also highly unethical
    I agree with Hearne, I think when Derek started off as Reader’s Rep that he took the job seriously. I was very impressed with him and his willingness to admit bias. At the time I was sitting in for Kris Kobach on his show and invited Derek on. The problem is that The Star isn’t going to change. It is what it is and Derek Donovan isn’t going to change anything and so Derek basically created a classic Davies theory of revolutions model where high expectations dramatically outstripped performance.

    As Hearne points out, Derek does not do conflict well and around the end of 2008 going into 2009 Derek began to meltdown. Readers on his blog begin calling him out for some of his deceitful statements and the patterns of hypocrisy and deceit became very clear. Derek’s response was to continually delete comments on his blog and under one column he wrote he showed up in the middle of the night to insult the people commenting on his article. He was very abusive and condescending. His MO in communications with people was to take their comments out of context, make a straw man and then attack them.

    About this time my old friend Dwight Sutherland called in to actually defend a reporter who had been disciplined for playing in a band that turned out to be a political affair. Dwight brought up examples of other far more blatant examples of reporters and columnists engaging in conduct that could call their objectivity into question. Derek did his usual dance of twisting matters out of context and attacked Dwight. Since I was aware of some of the situations I wrote Derek trying to straighten things out. What I got was a hostile voice message on my phone which I posted online. I then got another phone call from Derek stating that if I didn’t take the voicemail down, he would attack me publicly in his blog. I declined and Derek launched into a foul mouthed rant and we got disconnected.

    Think of this. Derek was using his blog at The Star as a weapon to save himself from personal embarrassment. How many reporters could get away with that? “Either do what I want, or I’ll write a nasty article about you.” Or how about a columnist? Hearne, what would have happened if you had used your column for personal gain?

    I reported the threat to Fannin and copied the email to Derek. Not only did he not deny it, he wrote back (copy to Fannin) that he was finishing up the blog entry, would allow me one response and then end it. He did indeed post the entry, attacking me by name. That was pulled and an “apology” was published (apologizing to his readers for involving them in an inside baseball dispute, not to me). That too was pulled.

    How can you be a reader’s rep when you’re one of the most abusive people at The Star? I’ve criticized reporters on specific articles before and never, never have I received anything like this. How can you be a reader’s rep and hold others to account for their ethical conduct when you’re one of the most unethical of the bunch? And how can you demand that others be accurate in their work when you’re making a career out of twisting what people say and lying through your teeth?

    I think he is a nice kid, a nice kid who doesn’t handle conflict very well. But that’s the essence of the reader’s rep position. You’re dealing with people who are upset with the paper and in order to change anything you have to confront them in a productive manner. He does neither well.

    Since then, you see very few comments under his blog, or his column because most folks have figures out that Derek is just SOS, different day (and, of course, he’s blocked others). The real issue is why Fannin allowed such blatant ethical misconduct from the guy who’s supposed to address it. Is Fannin sleeping with him too?

  9. Hot Rod says:

    STFU Harley
    Find me a smoking bar in KC and I’m there. Outlaw this, outlaw that. Really? Get a clue. A misquote and an assumption by a reporter is what prompted this incident as well as The Star’s bias to print the news as they think it should and not as it is. So Harley as you stomp on my Right of private personal choice, I’ll kick your freedom of speech to the curb. STFU Harley you loud mouth jackoff.

  10. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    Fuck smokers.
    and their stinking habit which makes it difficult to even stand near them in an elevator. I wish I had gas bad enough to stand next to these bastards and cut the grosses farts ever and make them smell my shit, just like I have to smell them.

  11. Hot Rod says:

    12:13 FUCK SMOKERS
    Say this slapnuts. When all of us smokers die off or quit, who is going to make up the tax revenue lost? You are jackoff thats who! Sure smoking is a bad habit as are many other Legal things. You are probably the asshole that yells at the poor homeless guy to take a shower even though the guy obviously has greater problems than your acute sense of smell. So to that I say FUCK YOU!

  12. Markus Aurelius says:

    Nice — Nigro only apologizes for calling someone a dick
    when the comment is made public. No apology for talking bad about the guy behind his back. Lovely.

    Frankly, I’m not sure why Nigro thinks he even deserves to have his side of this story told. There is almost ALWAYS a side to a story that does not get told. It happens all the time with media outlets and even moreso in the current age of polarized media outlets. All the more reason to not rely on the Star as your only source of news and information.

    Nigro is foolish to think that his principled position of objecting to banning smoking in casinos and objecting to a state-wide ban is going to garner him any practical results. Is he concerned about the civil liberty issue here (prohibiting the time, place and manner of legal conduct) or the business issue (negative impact on revenues)? If it’s the latter, then he SHOULD be pushing for a revision to KC’s ordinance so that it includes the casinos as well as a state-wide ban. If it’s the former, then talk about the civil liberties issue and drop the whining about bar owners being hurt in the pocketbook.

  13. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    LOL @Hotrod
    The sooner you smokers just get in the wooden box and nail it shut the better. And take the homeless with you. You’re all blights to society in general. I hope you enjoy your cancer, heart, and lung disease. All while befouling the air with your stench, you inconsiderate fucks. In fact, let me buy you a carton and lock you in an air tight room so you can smoke yourself right into a black pile of carbon. Enjoy your last gasping, gagging breath of oxygen, as your death rattle would make me laugh. Know what’s really funny? Watching all you jackoff smokers standing out in sub zero temperatures smoking away and shivering. Yeah, you’re all just brilliant and world can’t do without you. Just get it over with, and suck on the business end of a pistol. At least you won’t stink everyone out while killing yourself.

  14. Cliffy says:

    As a former smoker ….
    I try not to say the things the Guy Who Says What Others Think says but I definitely think them.

  15. Hot Rod says:

    FU Coward Who Can’t Use His Name
    Wow! Where do I start? Obviously speaking your piece in public must have been a tragic episode in your life. Hiding in anonymity is the way you choose to deal with it. By the way, my name is Rod and i am fairly well known in midtown. If you would like to have a personal discussion I am available any time you would want. I prefer a public place for all to see and hear how it goes down. It amazes me that I served in the 82nd Airborne to protect and defend your right to say what you want and be a f*&king coward. My rights must not be as important as yours. FU coward

  16. John Altevogt says:

    Derek is also highly unethical
    I agree with Hearne, I think when Derek started off as Reader’s Rep that he took the job seriously. I was very impressed with him and his willingness to admit bias. At the time I was sitting in for Kris Kobach on his show and invited Derek on. The problem is that The Star isn’t going to change. It is what it is and Derek Donovan isn’t going to change anything and so Derek basically created a classic Davies theory of revolutions model where high expectations dramatically outstripped performance.

    As Hearne points out, Derek does not do conflict well and around the end of 2008 going into 2009 Derek began to meltdown. Readers on his blog begin calling him out for some of his deceitful statements and the patterns of hypocrisy and deceit became very clear. Derek’s response was to continually delete comments on his blog and under one column he wrote he showed up in the middle of the night to insult the people commenting on his article. He was very abusive and condescending. His MO in communications with people was to take their comments out of context, make a straw man and then attack them.

    About this time my old friend Dwight Sutherland called in to actually defend a reporter who had been disciplined for playing in a band that turned out to be a political affair. Dwight brought up examples of other far more blatant examples of reporters and columnists engaging in conduct that could call their objectivity into question. Derek did his usual dance of twisting matters out of context and attacked Dwight. Since I was aware of some of the situations I wrote Derek trying to straighten things out. What I got was a hostile voice message on my phone which I posted online. I then got another phone call from Derek stating that if I didn’t take the voicemail down, he would attack me publicly in his blog. I declined and Derek launched into a foul mouthed rant and we got disconnected.

    Think of this. Derek was using his blog at The Star as a weapon to save himself from personal embarrassment. How many reporters could get away with that? “Either do what I want, or I’ll write a nasty article about you.” Or how about a columnist? Hearne, what would have happened if you had used your column for personal gain?

    I reported the threat to Fannin and copied the email to Derek. Not only did he not deny it, he wrote back (copy to Fannin) that he was finishing up the blog entry, would allow me one response and then end it. He did indeed post the entry, attacking me by name. That was pulled and an “apology” was published (apologizing to his readers for involving them in an inside baseball dispute, not to me). That too was pulled.

    How can you be a reader’s rep when you’re one of the most abusive people at The Star? I’ve criticized reporters on specific articles before and never, never have I received anything like this. How can you be a reader’s rep and hold others to account for their ethical conduct when you’re one of the most unethical of the bunch? And how can you demand that others be accurate in their work when you’re making a career out of twisting what people say and lying through your teeth?

    I think he is a nice kid, a nice kid who doesn’t handle conflict very well. But that’s the essence of the reader’s rep position. You’re dealing with people who are upset with the paper and in order to change anything you have to confront them in a productive manner. He does neither well.

    Since then, you see very few comments under his blog, or his column because most folks have figures out that Derek is just SOS, different day (and, of course, he’s blocked others). The real issue is why Fannin allowed such blatant ethical misconduct from the guy who’s supposed to address it. Is Fannin sleeping with him too?

  17. John Altevogt says:

    Duplicates
    I see the comments section still re-posts your last post when you refresh your browser.

  18. chuck says:

    Again- I am sorry for the break in form–
    But this guy is hilarious—and you don’t really have a foodie guy. With respect—-http://togoornottogo.com/

  19. Hearne Christopher says:

    Hey Markus,
    Like most people Nigro doesn’t mind calling a spade a spade – in this case that when he politely called to ask for a correction, Donovan treated him rudely. That’s the way he feels and what he thinks. His apology was based on not having intended for that to become public.

    Which is understandable, I think. I give Bill credit for NOT apologizing for saying/thinking that. He was trying to be polite (too late!) but not backing off of his words.

    Whether his side of the story deserved being told is one thing. But misrepresenting his organizations position and then refusing to correct an obvious mistake is a whole other matter.

    Now he’s left to explain over and again that what Hendricks wrote is not the position of the KC Business Rights group. Hendricks got to tell it wrong to thousands of readers. Bill is left to retell it correctly to one at a time.

  20. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    Relax and have another smoke “Rod”!
    Thanks for your service in the military. As if that makes any of your points more valid. Again, fuck smokers and their stink filled lifestyle. Go stand out in the freezing cold and look like a total yutz, while the rest of us laugh. I await your reply…it should go something like “GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACKKKKKK!!!!!!”

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