Hearne: Missing Local Newspaper TV Writer the Subject of Speculation

These kinds of stories are never easy to tell…

However as working members of the local media there’s little doubt that people such as Kansas City Star television and radio critic Aaron Barnhart live in glass houses. Remember KSHB weather wonk Gary Lezak‘s bout with the Big C several years back?

So it is that Barnhart’s unexplained absence since late last year has been the cause of much wonder and speculation by both readers and co-workers.

With the speculation centering unfortunately on Barnhart’s past history with cancer.

"It’s unfortunate, but apparently it’s his wish that nobody knows about it," says one Star staffer. "So unfortunately, maybe we’ll remain in the dark until we read his obituary or something, but I was told those were his wishes to HR."

Attempts to contact Barnhart via messages to his mostly dormant Facebook page went unanswered.

"I feel sorry for Aaron," says another former colleague. "I mean, if you’re not working, that’s not a good sign. I hope he’s okay."

For now the newspaper is still listing Barnhart as its telelvision writer on its website. However copy editor Sara Smith appears to be the one filling in for Barnhart on locally-written television stories with the heavier lifting falling to syndicated writers outside the newspaper.

That said, the Star‘s "Television" page still features extensive information about Barnhart, inviting readers to "get updates from Aaron" and claiming that "more than 7,000 readers are following Aaron right now."

However Barnhart’s Facebook and Twitter pages have been silent since January, and outside of a Don Harman suicide story December 1st, a minor news item the next day and a television year in review Christmas Day story Barnhart has been MIA at 18th and Grand.

It gets murkier.

"Why did tvbarn.com go away? no weekly newsletter either," reads one unanswered Facebook query to Barnhart in late June.

"Just a note from an old friend wishing you good health and my warmest regards, and hoping you’ll be up and about and writing soon," reads another posted in April.

Barnhart’s wife did post a pic of the couple recently with no explanation, including when it may have been taken.

"Nice to see you back," one commenter wrote. "Great picture," added another.

Seven months absence is a long time though and the Star is not known for dishing out paychecks for prolonged periods of ill health.

So people are wondering what’s going on and hoping for good news but, "Probably he’s pretty sick," adds another staffer.

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8 Responses to Hearne: Missing Local Newspaper TV Writer the Subject of Speculation

  1. Gavin says:

    So…?
    Barnhart is likely sick, unless he isn’t and we don’t know except for speculation because his employer won’t tell us although someone with his employer is more than happy to leak about it, but not attach their name. There is a recently-posted photograph, but, without any evidence, you speculate that the picture must be old.

    I’m sorry, but can you tell me ANYTHING in this post that is factual other than the facts that 1) we don’t know ANYTHING; and 2) Barnhart doesn’t WANT us to know anything?

  2. Hearne says:

    Happy to oblige…
    I’ll meet your two above and raise you a bunch.

    3) that Aaron’s been gone seven months and is still gone 4) that mum is the word from Star management 5) that Aaron has a history of cancer and that is what friends and staffers fear most 6) that he’s still on the Star masthead but a copy editor is filling in for him and 7) that a friend messaged him to get well, indicating he is not well and 8) that he is neither posting or answering requests for comment.

    I could go on but you get the idea.

    I’m not done though.

    I’ll remind you that when Gary Lezak was very sick and off battling cancer in 1999 it was Barnhart who contacted him and put him on record about all that he was going thru. Lezak returned Aaron’s calls.

    Reporting on high profile people and their problems is something journalists do and something Aaron has done.

    How is this any different?

  3. Super Dave says:

    “Reporting on high profile people and their problems is something journalists do and something Aaron has done”.

    How is this any different?

    The answer to that is easy Hearne and you know the answer as well but being a jounalist hate to admit it. You as well as your fellow journalist’s thrill at the chance to drag other peoples personal lives all over the pages, television screens, and internet media sources every chance you get. And if someone wants a little privacy you all get your panties in a twist. Perfect point on this is none other than Anne Peterson. When her son was killed in a car wreck the lid was clamped down on the story tighter than than Glazers rug on his head. She wanted her privacy she claimed. We excuse the fuck out of me. Funny you spend your whole working life exposing peoples pain and suffering but when it happens to you it’s, “Oh go away leave me alone”

    You journalist’s have no morals till it’s you or your family who have the issue then all of a sudden you decide other journalist’s are vultures and need to leave you alone.

    To me you need to suffer in return just as you have made others do.

  4. Hearne says:

    I guess that’s why…
    A couple years ago when I got a DUI I broke the story here on KC Confidential

  5. chuck says:

    @superdave
    I don’t know buddy. Mr. Barnhart is a public figure, and the story Hearne penned, relates not only to a public figure, but in what I think is a nod to expected criticism from many quarters, is prefaced by the reference to Gary Lezak.

    This from the society of Professional Journalists;

    “”Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.”

    Followed by-

    “- Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
    – Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
    – Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.”

    I realize that the last sentence with regard to lurid curiosity leaves not only Hearne, but every news publication in the United States vulnerable to criticism. “Lurid curiosity” is subjectivley determined, hence Superdave’s criticisms.

    There are a couple of interesting aspects of the “Journalists Code”. The code reads like many mission statements from colleges, companies, profit and not for profit organizations, full of altruistic sentiment, that when bent to the variables and vicissitudes of every day life are usually forgotten in the quest for money or power. There are few if any “journalistic organizations”, that being local and national media, who will pass on an interesting story that might aquire more readers and the concomitant advertisers.

    The crux of the matter might be that as the journalists see it, different levels of sensitivity are warranted depending upon whether a potential commentary concerns people who are private citizens and wish to remain so, or is about people who “seek power, influence, or attention.

    The “seek power, influence, or attention” aspect of Mr. Barnhart’s job, leaves him with exposure in his personal life.

    He is and was a public figure that had a regular column in a major American newspaper.

    In my opinion Hearne’s commentary was in no way “Lurid” and was as respectful as could be expected.

    Mr. Barnhart looks like a nice guy and I read nothing in this piece that would disavow me of the notion. I am sure after reading this article, that we all hope for his speedy recovery and his subsequent return to the Star.

  6. frank says:

    Two things
    1-I think we should take into consideration Hearne’s past with Aaron which isn’t positive.
    2-Get well Hearne

  7. Hearne says:

    Plus one more…
    I always got along well with Aaron, genius. Never had any run-ins.

    Thanks for thinking of me

  8. Frank says:

    well now you are LYING
    Hearne, I’ve read this dirt site of yours from day one. You don’t think I recall Aaron writing you here and busting you out. One of a few of your slams on him was you couldn’t understand why he maintained his job while you and many other worthy people were sent packing. Aaron then posted on this site and slammed you and your work ethic. So are you lying when you talk about how well you got along or is your brain just been so soaked in booze you don’t recall? Maybe you should write a book like Glazer telling about your fantastic memories of life at the Star it would be the second piece of fiction done by a KCC writer.

    Obviously my memory serves me better….so I understand why you call me genius. Maybe all that Glazer editing has impacted your thinking.

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