Star Search: Oops! Star to Print Readers; 75% of Joplin ‘Virtually Gone’


Breaking news, it’s the Achilles Heel of print journalism…

Yesterday’s Joplin tornado dissaster was a news nightmare for Kansas City’s paper of record.

For all newspapers, really.

And not just because locals who still prefer to fish their news from their driveways each day were the last to know. Oh, that’s part of it.

But not only are newspaper readers the last informed, they’re often both the least and most ill-informed.

Take the Star’s money quote / headline from the story in today’s paper, "Joplin Shredded."

" ‘I would say 75 percent of the town is virtually gone,’ Kathy Dennis of the American Red Cross told CNN."

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, for starters the skelton newroom staff the Star fields on weekends was doing little more than watching TV and repackaging it for readers. How valuable is that to readers who shell out big bucks for subscriptions?

Worse yet, by cribbing its news from the minimal reporting CNN squeezed out last night between Mel Gibson and Geraldo specials, the newspaper hung itself out to dry in terms of accuracy.

This morning CNN is reporting that closer to 25 to 30 percent of Joplin – not 75 percent – got hammered.

That’s a belated news mistake that could have avoided. Because rocking with a front page headline from a Red Cross "worker" was risky at best. Kinda like asking a cop how many people there are at the Plaza Lighting Ceremony.

How would Dennis know, anyhow? Thrust into the early stages of the worst tornado dissaster in Joplin history in the dark of night with limited communication and utter chaos all around.

If anything’s clear in disaster reporting, it’s that the early returns are almost certain to be exaggerated and/or incorrect. So why build the main front page story around a quote from somebody you saw on TV?

By mid-morning the Star had rethought its bogus headline and changed it online to read, "At least 24 killed as tornado shreds Joplin." That’s not as sensational as the "75 percent of the town is virtually gone" headline atop today’s paper, but it’s a lot less embarrassing.

The Star, like most media, supplements its news coverage online and at the time of this writing the 75 percent figure has now been rounded down to the 30 figure.

However, the problem is that by far the newspaper’s primary income is derrived from print. Profits online pale by comparison.

The question being, how much longer will aging Baby Boomers settle for "yesterday’s news" when all they have to do is what the reporters at the Star did last night; turn on the TV.
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26 Responses to Star Search: Oops! Star to Print Readers; 75% of Joplin ‘Virtually Gone’

  1. DUMB says:

    This is laughably stupid dude, The Star can’t bend time and space to their wishes. Weak.

    It’s why they have a website.

  2. CMac says:

    This morning Bob Fescoe repeated the 75% wiped out phrase and then said that Joplin was “gone…just gone.” Nice work by our favorite radio asshat.

  3. Eric says:

    Agreed w/ Dumb
    Even repeated the 75% stat. You’re reaching.

  4. Kyle Rohde says:

    So Hearne, did Jim steal from you or vice versa?
    Hearne – good points in here, but you and Jim Fitzpatrick both hammered the Star on the same point today. So which one of you had it first and which one copied the other? 🙂

  5. Gerald Bostock says:

    dumb, weak and reaching–it’s unanimous
    Yes and sometimes the morning paper comes without the final baseball scores from the West Coast. This has been happening for 50 years or more. Every one understands that there is a lag time between the paper’s deadline and its arrival in the driveway. Stop being so willfully obtuse.

  6. DUMB says:

    Suggest you look at tomorrow’s paper.

    As for Fitzpatrick, things have changed so much at The Star since he was asked to retire, his experiences don’t really calibrate with how things are done now.

    He probably ought to quit offering his irrelevant opinions.

  7. The Independent Rage says:

    75% gone
    I noticed that Drudge still has the 75% figure up this afternoon, and so the Star isn’t the only one asleep at the wheel.

  8. Hearne Christopher says:

    Then perhaps you can explain why the vast majority of their readers buy the physical newspaper? And the majority of their revenue and advertising is in the print edition.

    Remember? The one with the day old news with all the mistakes.

  9. Jim Fitzpatrick says:

    My Dear Dumb…
    How wrong thou art…My retirement was strictly my own call. The send-off was hats and hooters, sheet cake and pizza in the Independence bureau, my last station. A grand occasion it was!

  10. Hearne Christopher says:

    Reaching, huh? Your point being that watches the same television shows the Star does? There’s a difference between repeating something fleetingly, on air as the news is breaking. Rather than publishing it as breaking, headline news in the next day’s newspaper.

  11. Hearne Christopher says:

    Good question. I haven’t been to jimmycsays yet, but my hunch is he haden’t read mine first either.

    I do have a confession. As I was writing it, it did cross my mind that this is the type of story Fitz likes to cover.

  12. Hearne Christopher says:

    I heard CNN wanted to cover it like the Royal wedding but didn’t want to get scooped by the Star.

  13. Hearne Christopher says:

    Just read Fitz’s column. Looks like we both thought thge 75 percent number and how they got it and played it bogus. But I looked at it more as the failure of a daily newspaper and jim sized the coverage up looking at the local television news coverage.

  14. bschloz says:

    Very sad day today….My thoughts and prayers go out to the great people of Joplin.

  15. live the dream, jimmy says:

    you’re not going to be able to convince anyone else of that, but you can certainly keep trying.

    bob butler got a cake too.

  16. Super Dave says:

    Really sad to me the way all the media whores in Kansas City was racing each other down 71 Hwy to Joplin last night to show those of us who cared no doubt what we had already seen on The Weather Channel for about 4 hours. Least The Star stayed home it might appear. If a tornado ever does hit this town I hope it is one of those multi vortex type twisters that takes out channels 4, 41, 5, 9 and The Star so they all for once won

  17. Hearne Christopher says:

    Misery does love company

  18. Hearne Christopher says:

    Thin skin, huh?

  19. Super Dave says:

    Gee WTF
    Oh not a huge difference you say?

    Well ok I will send you 75% of a huge pile of shit instead of 30% and see then if you see the huge difference.

  20. Don Hormone says:

    weather wank
    ABC Nightline was reporting as of last night that 75% of the city was affected, not the same as “gone”, but still… you oughta let the reporters report, and stick to gossiping about where Gary Lezak was spotted having lunch. that’s how you used to make the big bucks ain’t it?

  21. DUMB says:

    And I suppose you’re gonna shit on today’s paper, too?

    It’s really an impressive effort.

  22. Hearne Christopher says:

    Actually, think it was cupcakes

  23. Hearne Christopher says:

    Fitz wasn’t asked to retire, he dove off the plank. That way he could plow his disposable income into the mayor’s race.

  24. Hearne Christopher says:

    I give, I give. I’m on your side

  25. Hearne Christopher says:

    In a word, no

  26. Hearne Christopher says:

    I agree. I think the Star threw everything they had at the Joplin followup and came up with some stories and angles some of the national media has missed.

    Which doesn’t change the fact that they whiffed badly on the initial coverage.

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