One of the comments on yesterday’s story about Plaza panhandler Jerry Mazer’s demise referred to my having blown him up…
That my writing about Mazer’s travails over the years elevated his profile and status in KC.
I won’t argue that, other than to note Mazer had already blown himself up.
By knocking Kansas City on its butt and getting a discriminatory, Plaza-backed, panhandler-ban booted off the books. Mazer was front page news before I laid a glove him.
Back to Mazer’s victory.
Washington Post reporter Tom Jackman – then at the Star – screwed up and misspelled Mazer’s first name in a major news story.
Jackman spelled it "Gerry" instead of Jerry, because he wasn’t able to track Mazer down for an interview. I knew the correct spelling, but because of Jackman’s uncorrected error, the copy desk at the Star wouldn’t allow me to spell it correctly in my column.
No matter how strongly I protested, the copy desk would not yield. They assumed Jackman was right, and insisted on spelling it incorrectly in the newspaper.
So at the complete last minute – right before the FYI section went to print – I tracked Jerry down in midtown, drove him to the Star and led him into the newsroom to Miriam Pepper’s desk. That while editors and reporters alike marveled in shock and awe at Jerry’s disheveled, less-than-clean celebrity.
There I had him correctly spell his name to Miriam and point out Jackman’s error.
The copy desk finally folded and Mazer’s first name went into my column correctly spelled.
The flip side of the story: Miriam never could make Jackman eat the correction. And it remains in the Star’s electronic library dead wrong to this day.