Tony: The Adventures Of Former Star Biz Editor Chris Lester Prove Life After Journalism Only Gets Rougher

Credit where it’s due: Chris Lester was ahead of the game when it came to abandoning ship at Kansas City’s paper-of-record.

His departure two years ago was celebrated with wonder and maybe a bit of envy by his colleagues. The announcement that he was moving to the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce as Senior Vice President For Business Growth was a bit of confirmation that The Kansas City Star was still a stalwart among the movers and shakers of this town.

Then, without any fanfare, Former Star Biz Editor Chris Lester was quietly “blown out” of his comfy new Chamber job last month.

Amid so many newspaper layoffs, Lester’s story is especially intriguing because it both acknowledges the decline of the industry and denotes the hardships that await former practitioners of this soon to be forgotten journalistic art.

Let’s start with Lester’s qualifications.

As business editor at The Star we hear that there was a great deal of internal debate regarding Lester’s ability to help develop any real business in Kansas City. Journalists like to think that because of the varied subject matter of the stories they cover they somehow have extensive knowledge of a great variety of disciplines. In reality, a former journalist like Lester was more qualified to take notes or a long afternoon lunch than actually work toward local business development.

Obviously, writing about business and working with businesses are two different things and the schmooze put on by great public relations people lets more naive newsies believe they really have a say in the stories they’re covering.

More often than not, stroking the egos of journalists is simply a byproduct of good spin.

The fact is that the Lester hire served a public relations purpose, but just like so many other newspaper hires in the “real” business world it was quickly over once the arrangement was no longer expedient.

Undoubtedly, the powers that be at The Chamber have now moved on to courting some other bright local biz writer. Heck, Greg Graves even smiled at me and made me all giddy at a recent victory party for the E-Tax.

Nowadays the leverage held by mainstream media is no longer so powerful. In fact, the best description that I’ve heard is that getting good press is kind of like prostitution – only the losers have to pay for it.

So where does all of this leave the many other newspaper journalists hoping for life after employment at The Kansas City Star? Let’s review: Dan Margolies journeyed to Reuters in Washington, D.C., family in tow, but then quickly departed. The rumor was that the work load required was simply far greater than what former The Star reporter expected. Our beloved DeAnn Smith tried to work behind the camera at two TV local news stations but that didn’t really work out. But she’s a go-getter, so expect to see her name again. During the political season she was an active campaign volunteer for Councilman Ed Ford.

And now that Lester’s out at The Chamber the word is that he was a candidate for the Communications Director Job with New Kansas Mayor Sly James. That didn’t work out either. Mayor ames chose Danny Rotert – a more seasoned political operative, despite a great many people making some serious recommendations for the former Star newspaper man.

What we can gather from all of this is that there are still are job opportunities for newspaper reporters leaving Kansas City’s biggest daily paper. However, the market is brutal, unstable and full of surprises. In short, it’s nothing at all like the comfortable life working for the former Kansas City paper-of-record during better times and before its current demise.

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13 Responses to Tony: The Adventures Of Former Star Biz Editor Chris Lester Prove Life After Journalism Only Gets Rougher

  1. NOT EVEN CLOSE says:

    Everybody celebrated Lester’s departure at The Star for a different reason. He was an asshole. So it’s not all that intriguing. If you’re an arrogant prick working at McDonald’s, if you switch to Burger King, you’re going to be one there, too.

  2. smartman says:

    Star is Launching Pad For Failure
    Woweewow! What a hard hitting piece for your After The Lovin’ return to KCC!

    Are you not feeling well culo? You should be shootin’ your hot sauce all over your keyboard on this. Another white guy gettin’ his dose of reality.

    No small coincidence that with the exception of Jo “Harlequin” Posnanski none of the folks who have left or got whacked at the Star have really gone on to bigger and better things. Perhaps that herd of journalistic mediocrity had something to do with the decline in revenues and readership and it’s not all the economy.
    You’re a classic example culo. With all the press and adulation you get nobody is lining up to geev yew a yob. It’s not enough to contribute to the dialog if you can’t contribute to the bottom line.

    Are you stickin’ it to Darla Jaye? Body Mass Index challenged people porn is a huge growth segment. With your wild web skills you could self distribute and knock down an easy 200K over the next year.

  3. chuck says:

    Tony does love to see the white boys in pain.
    Tony wants the mayor to change the name of the city to Louis Farrakhan Land.

  4. Julius Karash says:

    I’ve never known anybody who cared more about growing the Kansas City economy to create more jobs for folks than Chris Lester.

    Julius Karash, executive editor of KC Business & Commercial Journal and former business reporter for the Kansas City Star

  5. Steve Everly says:

    The anonymous poster’s trash talking of Chris Lester was out of bounds. He was the best editor I ever had and I know other reporters who think the same.

    Steve Everly

  6. Tracy Thomas says:

    Welcome back, tony, now please post your awesome robot video
    Saw your 6 minute robot video about the Star on Tonyskansascity, how about posting it here as well? How hard was it to make?

  7. harley says:

    thought he was great…he thought we was beyond firing…well he got his asz fired and kicked out the
    door. Stints at the sun and this keystone cop webstie show he’s not got a folllowing anymore.
    The few people who post on here and the few numbers of actual readers makes this site
    a bottom feeder. It’s just mishmash of writers…wanna be’s…and old guys who want to be
    liked….no wya it happens.
    When hearne left the star…noone cried (except hearne)…its been gone and noone clamors for
    it or asked about it….like yesterdays paper hearne is yesterday news.

  8. Gerald Bostock says:

    Can’t we all get along?
    You know, everybody here may be right. Someone can be a good editor, and still be an arrogant asshole. But it’s a highwire act, and if you fall off, not too many people are going to help you up.

  9. RickM says:

    Posnanski’s not the only one
    I realize that no one will read this comment as it’s coming too late, but had to point out that Arthur Brisbane – who, after all, started out as a reporter and columnist before ascending to loftier positions at the Star – has come out pretty well for himself. How many people get paid to second-guess the f’kin New York Times on a weekly basis?

  10. Hearne Christopher says:

    Nice spin, Wild Man

  11. Hearne says:

    Always got along well with Chris but…
    Like some of you I was surprised to read that comment. So I made a few calls to people outside of the biz section at the Star and…again…was surprised. There was that school of thought floating around. And not from the kind of people who run around dissing others. So I don’t know.

    I like seeing some of the Star reporters weighing in by name on Chris’s behalf. That said, people often get along well with the people they need or have to and show a different side to others that they do not have to.

  12. Steve Everly says:

    I should probably shut up and after this I will. But I feel strongly that Lester’s reputation and record should not be besmirched. He left the Star after the business section won a national award as one of the best in the country. Were there some that didn’t care for him? Probably but who is universally liked within a large organization. What I do know is there was a daily flow to his desk of reporters from various sections of the paper who wanted his advice on stories. Lester liked nothing better as an editor than a good story and he encouraged them. That’s a good thing and a rarer trait in that occupation than you would think.

  13. Joyce Smith says:

    Lester – nice guy, great editor
    I sat by Chris for many years when he was a reporter. He was then my editor for nearly 11 years. Chris was always personable and professional, an excellent journalist and editor who brought out the best in his staff. He couldn

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