Starsearch: Houston, We’ve Got a (Dead Soldiers & Noblemen) Problem

 

Geez, I take off for a week to Houston and all heck breaks lose at KC’s newspaper of record…

But no big surprises really on the layoffs and cutbacks KC Confidential forecast in early April. With a one-two punch of shrinking circulation and sour economy, the Kansas City Star and other print publications (like the Pitch) are trapped in a long term, downward trend – not a passing recession- as its publisher likes to imply.

Let’s look at it for a minute, then move on to the fleecing of dead soldiers.

Going into the Dot Com Bust of 2002/2003 the Star had more than 2,000 employees and was plotting construction of a quarter billion print plant. A facility that was put up for sale within two years of its being built.

That’s how fast things have changed in the newspaper biz.

Eight years later there may be 500 or fewer full time people on the Star‘s payroll.

Back to the dead folks…

It’s been years since the newspaper turned its obits pages into a paid advertising section. No more dying for free. Hey, they can’t take it with ’em, right?

But where do you draw the line given reporting who died, when and how used to be considered straight news?

Not only did the obit for a 25 year-old gentleman named Patrick Michael Beasley employ boldface type for his name – as is the standard practice – it also announced in a boldface, all caps headline that Beasley was "A NOBLEMAN TO THE END."

Really – a man of noble birth or rank?

Is this be the beginning of a new obits ad trend? Slap whatever out there headline or slogan on your obit you want. King of the World? No problem. Things could get pretty interesting.

But wetting goofy is one thing, but double dipping on families of fallen soldiers seems tacky.

Yet that’s exactly what the Star ad "Monday, May 30 In Memoriam" is doing.

"Give a special salute to the deceased military heroes of your life," it reads. "These listings, with a photo, will appear as an addition of the obituary pages of the Kansas City Star. For details of how to pay tribute to your special veteran look in today’s classified.."

Emphasis on the pay tribute part.

So not only is the Star dinging the families of fallen soldiers in the obits section when they die, now it wants them to cough up again for an ad on Memorial Day.

Forget flowers at the gravesite, don’t be so cheap, buy another ad!

A somewhat subtler solicitation in Star Magazine puts the proposition this way: "On Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, The Star will recognize our military heroes."

Which sounds kinda touching until you get to the part where the newspaper wants to bag you for $25. Otherwise you can hang with the other unknown soldiers in Cemetary Land.

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3 Responses to Starsearch: Houston, We’ve Got a (Dead Soldiers & Noblemen) Problem

  1. Cliffy says:

    I saw in Parade a few weeks ago an obituary writer in Miami pulls down 80K a year. People are willing to pay that kind of jack for an obit and you think the Star should do it for free? Maybe you should try it. Just make sure you don’t bury the lede.

  2. bschloz says:

    Power Of The Press
    Still have to believe Star is a cash producer….we need Warren Buffet to buy buy buy.
    Still the only game in town…by a wide margin. Looks like MNI is about to collapse?
    Sure -IPAD is the shit—but me I like eating toast over the Sports Page and get quick view of the news.

  3. Hearne Christopher says:

    Thanks. I’ll be sure and note right up front that whoever it is was a nobleman, statesman, etc. That way, later, when I have a nobleman or statesman special section I can get them to buy another obit

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