Another day, another handful of watered down news items….
Make no mistake, the Star dishes out more than its fair share of quality local news. When it wants to. Too often though it’s easier for all concerned – editors and reporters – to kinda let stuff slide and stay on the sunny-side-up plan.
Too often there’s little incentive to probe deeper – in part because of limited competition – and partly because keeping sources happy means you’ll likely be first in line when the next "scoop" surfaces.
I can think of dozens of examples, but let’s take a look at just one before moving on to today’s.
Remember when Joyce Smith in business gave a front page blowjob to former donut king Ray LaMar?
Smith reported LaMar was hanging up his donut holes owing to old age. However, a brief check with the health department revealed LaMar’s had been shut down by the health department after years of some of the nastiest violations imaginable. Reports littered with examples so grotesque my editor in FYI would not allow them into the column lest they cause discomfort at some imaginary "breakfast table."
Yes, ladies and gentlemen the Breakfast Club myth is still alive and well at 18th and Grand.
Now on to today.
Remember last November when the Star‘s Tony Rizzo "reported" the following about the death of disgraced civic leader Karen Pletz?
"There were no signs of foul play, said Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Travis Mandell," Rizzo wrote. "Detectives are waiting for the Broward County medical examiner to determine the cause of death and do not expect a ruling until next week."
Hold it right there.
Had Rizzo bothered to check – as I did – he would have learned from Broward County chief medical examiner Darin Trelka that the results for Pletz’s autopsy would not be available for two to three months, not the following week.
Now let’s see how the Star reported the three month old front page story today. Surprise! In a tiny, single column headlined, "Coroner rules Pletz death to be suicide."
"The death of former medical school president and civic leader Karen Pletz has been ruled a suicide, a Florida county medical examiner said Friday," the Star writes, crediting Trelka.
Two and one half months later, just like Trelka told me the day Rizzo reported incorrectly the results would be out in a week.
As for what happened to Pletz, KC Confidential readers learned on December 16th last year that Florida police had told Kansas City police it was a suicide.
That’s one reason there was no rush to get the medical results back, which KC police say generally takes about 30 days, I wrote at the time.
Oh and one more thing, "Mandell doesn’t know where the Star got the idea that the medical examiner’s results would be in so quickly because it usually takes from several weeks "up to six months," I reported.
Still no correction or admission of an error by the Star.
Just as there was no correction on a recent, major news story about a huge redevelopment project by the Woodside Health & Tennis Club. A story in which the club was incorrectly called the Woodside Racquet Club in the Star‘s business section.
That error was pointed out to me by a club marketing official.
In fact, a number of people have noticed that, despite its dramatically paired down ranks, far fewer corrections seem to be making their way into the Star via part time readers rep / gatekeeper Derek Donovan.
A total of only 235 last year at the Star compared to the dead serious New York Times which former Star publisher Art Brisbane reported had 3,500 corrections last year. What are the odds of that being an honest number?
"Oh, Derek is not a readers rep at all," quips one senior Star staffer. "He doesn’t represent the readers at all. If you’re an average reader and you didn’t agree with the article – say it’s a biased article even though it’s a news story that’s not supposed to be biased – Derek wouldn’t give the caller the time of day. That’s just the way (he) is. And he has caused more cancelled subscriptions because he hangs up on people – he has no patience."
Let’s see if D Dog corrects either of the above or merely hangs up on KC Confdential like he effectively did to retired Star reporter Jim Fitzpatrick a couple years back.