Hearne: Star Stumbles After Reader Rep Reignites Debate Over ‘Redskins’ Name

Don’t look now, but Star reader rep Derek Donovan‘s recently-sparked controversy over use of NFL team the Washington Redskins name in the newspaper has blown up in his face…

“A caller this morning expressed his incredulity that The Star doesn’t normally print the name of Washingon’s NFL team: the Redskins…” Donovan wrote in his September 24 column. “I see no compelling reason for any publisher to reprint an egregiously offensive term as a casual matter of course.”

Having worked at the Star in the 1990s when the Indian mascot controversies first exploded – even the Chiefs came under fire – I can recall the Redskins controversy coming to a head in November 1992.

The Chiefs were hosting Washington and several indian groups had convened in Kansas City ahead of the game to “dishonor” the game.

“It is hard to believe that near the end of the 20th century, one of America’s best-known sports franchises carries a nickname that has no other definition than as a racial slur,” wrote then Star sports columnist Jonathan Rand.

It wasn’t long after that before the Star instituted its “No Redskins” policy.

Donovan’s recent missive spread like wildfire. First to mediakc.com where KC guy Alex Parker wrote, “Donovan makes a solid point: when else would a newspaper publish a racial epithet? Most papers won’t publish the N-word.”

From there it spread to big league sports, NBC’s Channel 4 in Washington, D.C. and beyond.

But wait!

No sooner had Donovan unleashed his six graph primer on political correctness, than up popped the devil.

Two days later this headline appeared in the Star: “Redskins add RB Grant.”

Followed two days later by: “Redskins’ Williams, Garcon questionable”

And last Sunday: “Redskins’ Meriweather and Robinson hurt in pregame warmups.”

Okay look. The stories were syndicated and written by writers at The Sports Network who’s motto is “We don’t just meet your expectations. We exceed them.”

They undoubtedly exceeded Donovan’s.

Still Star editors runs countless syndicated stories each day, editing them freely. Why not these?

Might it not be a good idea for someone at 18th and Grand to pay attention to what its reader rep is saying? Or perhaps for the reader rep to check what’s on the Star website before taking such high ground?

Just saying….






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10 Responses to Hearne: Star Stumbles After Reader Rep Reignites Debate Over ‘Redskins’ Name

  1. Rick Nichols says:

    I wonder if JoBu’s hatchet is anything like the one visible in the former Chiefs logo from 1963. That must’ve hurt, Hearne. Ouch! Anyway, if The Star needs to do anything at all, it needs to be consistent, so for the word “Redskins” to creep into the sports columns here and there, regardless of the source, is really inexcusable. I saw it in the “Sunday Summaries” section a couple of weeks ago. Of course, I am opposed to the “ban” on “Redskins” by The Star on the basis that this is the team’s official name at this point in time and thus it should be appropriately used as needed in the sports section. Doing anything else is really doing readers a disservice. Yes, it is viewed by many to be a derogatory term, but keeping the term out of print in The Star is not going to rewrite 400 years of history on the North American continent. And if someone feels that strongly about the matter, take the issue up with Mr. Snyder if you can arrange to get an appointment with him. Or go see Mr. Goodell. Now if The Star wants to ban the word “Redskins” from the paper, it should also ban the term “Obamacare” because that’s certainly not the official name of the legislation passed earlier by Congress. Personally, I find that term offensive because it does nothing to advance the level of public discourse in this country and is only used in an attempt to stir things up, more often than not among members of the GOP base. And that ban would extend to letters to the editor.

  2. wrongo says:

    You’re talking about the website, not the print edition. Those stories never appeared in the print edition. The ban only applies to the print edition….it was put in place before there was any website.

    If you think they’re going to monitor everything that comes in on the website, which comes off the wires, or the sports network…no.

  3. admin says:

    The ban was put in place at the Kansas City Star. I was there. There was no stipulation that racism would be allowed on the website or other Star publications – just not the newsprint edition.

    Are you nuts? Or just guessing?

    The Kansas City Star’s future is its website. The money’s not there yet but that’s where the long term action is.

    And trust me, they don’t delineate between editorial sections. Like it’s OK to do something unethical in Preview but not Business.

    Speaking of only being online – which I mentioned btw – Donovan’s column only appeared online.

    Do you think he was trying to reach just the print readership?

    And yes, they monitor everything that they put in print or on the website. Closely. I can’t believe you think they would put something on the website without reading and editing it. They even police the comments section.

  4. Orphan of the Road says:

    The KC Star/Times have been such a bastion of free and open speech, champions of it. Right?


    “To use the freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment to destroy competition would defeat its own ends, for freedom to print news and express opinions as one chooses is not tantamount to having freedom to monopolize. To monopolize freedom is to destroy it.”

    Fair and Balanced since never?

    Redskins, Chiefs, Indians, Braves, all honoring a race which the government and big business sought to erase from the Earth.

    Or as Todd Aiken might say, legitimate rape.

  5. KCMonarch says:

    Hell hath no fury like Hearne Christopher scorned.

  6. the dude says:

    So since it is PC to call first nation people Redskins can I call people of African descent “darkies” or “blackskins”?

  7. Rick Nichols says:

    I have pointed out to Derek that both The Washington Post and The New York Times, at least online, have no problem with the use of the term “Redskins” by their sports writers. His response? “They’re wrong.” But what would they know, right?

  8. mike says:

    It’s the name of the team. If someone doesn’t like it, they need to take it up with the team. If a paper uses that name, they are only reporting, not giving an endorsement for using the name.

    • the dude says:

      A team name that we can all agree is a racist term. But money talks loudest here, right?

      • mike says:

        Yes, it’s a bad name but the newspaper didn’t give them that name. People should direct their anger at the ownership of the team, not waste it directing it at the press.

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