Hearne: Sunday Star Fails to Shine as Gregorian Chants

Vahe gregorianThere’s a reason the Kansas City Star promotes its Sunday edition as a coupon cornucopia…

Starting with the fact that it’s a no brainer. Smart businesses market to their strengths and clearly the Star views the vast tonnage of grocery coupons and ad inserts as it’s strong suit. And I’m sure for many people that’s true, but for many others like me, eh.

Paging through today’s Star, it struck me, not for the first time but it hit home, there really isn’t very much news or compelling content in the Sunday paper. Despite that it’s the newspaper’s main profit center.

It’s mostly filler really.

The Sunday’s Star is largely a collection of contrived features, designed to make up for the fact that the news section fields but a skeleton staff on weekends. Say what you will about my opinion of the Sunday Star, but there’s no arguing the point that 18th and Grand is largely a rudderless ghost ship on college football Saturdays and the Lord’s Day.

Even in the – let’s call them the “money years” – the Star only brought in an editor or two and a meager handful of reporters drafted from various news and features sections to spearhead its relatively mundane weekend offerings, like covering Rockfest and drive by shootings in Westport.

On Sunday, today, it hit home.

new-york-times-headquartersThe Sunday Star is no New York Times.

Despite that that’s exactly what the Star is trying to be for – wait for it – Paris on the Plains.

Look at today’s front page with three entirely forgettable stories.

One about KC “dreading” another flood on Southwest Boulevard, since it’s been 20 years after the last one. Thanks for reminding us, we’ll fire up the worry machine starting today now that we’ve read that headline.

Lauren Ward

Lauren Ward

There’s a story about the Tony Awards in New York that advises us that the theater awards really matter because a Hickman Mills grad and the KC Rep could win something that nobody outside of the thimble full of serious area theater buffs will care much about one way or the other.

Are we to believe a metroplex of two million people are on the edge of their seats awaiting tonight’s outcome?

Lastly comes a massive a heart string tugger and way-too-long feature about a 10 year-old girl that was rescued from a locked closet. It’s yesterday’s news to the 10th power fitted out in soap opera duds. Predictably, it barely made the top 10 most read list on the Star‘s website by shortly after noon.

Dragon Boats by Eric Bowers

Dragon Boats by Eric Bowers

Inside we’re treated to AP item after AP item, a supersized story about the – yawndragon boats on the sewer known as Brush Creek, a Gusewelle snoozer for the blue hair crowd, a filler about a skateboard dude back in town this weekend and an abbreviated and arbitrary win/loss tally for the Kansas Legistlature in 2013


i-see-dead-peopleWhich reminds me, on Sunday I see dead people.

Lots and lots of ’em as a matter of fact.

Four full pages of obituaries and another almost page of celebrity and military deaths. Does the Star really think this is the most compelling news out there? It must. Nothing else comes even close in terms of the space allocated to it. Then again, the four pages of obits is just another form of advertising. At least they don’t bang the families in the “military deaths” listings for ad fees like they do on Memorial Day.

There are also ad sections for real estate and what’s left of the so-called classified section, there a House & Home section that I’ve yet to find a woman who regulary reads it, outside of those I worked with at the Star.

The Arts & Entertainment section is OK, but nothing to write home about. As is the highly profitable Star Magazine.

That brings us to Sports Daily

Where we learn fothright that after four straight wins, the Royals “still have a prayer.” Good to know. And that some local high school “scholar athletes” get to do a bit of globe trotting this summer before heading off to college.

Oh yeah…

Weighing in with a photo that looks like a Photoshop blend of John McCain and Joe McGuff, comes the new sports scribe from St. Louis who goes by – betcha can’t pronounce it correctly the first time – Vahe Gregorian.

Sunday was Vahe’s day to shine. He’s obviously no spring chicken and he’s been living large as an MU football and basketball beat writer so his learning curve should be minimal. Right?

Maybe not.

It’s one thing to serve as a reporter, quite another to make the grade as a columnist. Just ask the Star‘s Mike Hendricks.

quantrellraid4leInstead, Vahe mailed one in – a lengthy Gregorian Chant if you will – about how much Kansas City misses the storied KU-MU rivalry aka the Border War.

Come on Vahe, you can do better than merely marvel at how passionate the KU-MU rivalry was as if you didn’t truly understand it until you suit-cased in a few weeks back. Your dad was a history buff, you must have heard about Quantrill’s Raid somewhere along the line before you got here. And you’re a sports dude and were the MU beat writer for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and you’re just now getting your head around bitter sports rivalries?

There’s only like a million of them. Granted KU-MU is a big deal to a lot of fans in these parts, but there’s nothing unique about it.

Unless you count the Civil War / slavery angle, which can make good copy for out-of-towners, but nobody’s sitting around here 200 years later re-fighting those battles. Aside from actors and Civil War buffs.

And stop letting big shots like KU coach Bill Self off the hook so easily.

KC doesn’t need another Jason Whitlock, but grow a pair.

After Bill Self waxes nonchalant about why KU refuses to play MU, don’t write that he says it “without a hint of rancor.” People don’t have to be red faced and foaming at the chin to exhibit rancor. Remember, actions speak louder than words?

We all read the nasty stuff KU said from the chancellor on down after MU bailed. KU was and remains majorly pissed.

Kinda like you’d probably be if your wife had an affair with – say – Star editor Mike Fannin. My guess is you’d march your butt back to St. Louis post haste.

Everybody here that cares already knew that MU wanted to have its cake and eat it too. The money and prestige of playing in the SEC along with the money and prestige of playing KU in basketball and winning every now and again. Oh and slaughtering them in football – that’s always a fun paycheck.

But it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon and that’s pretty much a given. So most of us have moved on and your training wheels column in the Star isn’t going to change any of that.



By the way, just because Joe Posnanski wrote too long doesn’t mean everybody can or has to. Consider that friendly advice.

Welcome to the Cowtown – it’s really a very friendly place – enjoy!


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14 Responses to Hearne: Sunday Star Fails to Shine as Gregorian Chants

  1. Orphan of the Road says:

    The Star used to have muscle and influence. Today it is primarily a toady for development and cockamamie projects.

    In college I’d hit the library every day to read The Times and The Star. In Philadelphia I got to enjoy a few years of competing dailies. Three if you counted The Philadelphia Daily News (owned by Knight-Ridder like The Inquirer).

    But reading the same exact story, two and sometimes three times in a week and seeing how the once all-powerful Star (http://openjurist.org/240/f2d/643/kansas-city-star-company-v-united-states-a-sees) become nothing but a mouthpiece for developers and every cockamamie project that came down the pike, I stopped subscribing.

    I’ll read it online (paywall, LOL) but when they can’t realize Benton Blvd and 30th St can never intersect or that 28th & Benton isn’t the Northeast, it is time for death-with-little-dignity.

    The MU/KU rivalry-must-resume scat by this new columnist makes Jeene’s columns look like Pulitzers.

  2. smartman says:

    Methinks Vah-HEE was brought in to help Sam sharpen his pencil, which is kinda like asking Glazer to help harley sharpen his crayon. Such is life.

    The Tsar has been sufficiently flacid for quite some time, perhaps to the point of atrophy settling in, suffering from ED, which is dual purpose for Executive Decisions and Editorial Direction.

    You might be interested in an unscientific survey I took last evening at various drinking establishments on the Plaza, in Brookside and Waldo.

    Of 30 people surveyed none could name the publisher of the Tsar. 12 correctly named you as the “publisher” of KCC and only 2 could name the publisher of TKC, and that’s giving credit to one respondent who said some guy that live’s in his mom’s basement.

  3. the dude says:

    We get it, The Star is not the hard hitting paper it once was when Hemmingway was a cub reporter. Everyone knows it is mostly ads filled with AP stories, we get it.
    You are dulling that axe with all that grinding.

    • Mysterious J says:

      But don’t you know how much BETTER The Star would be if it still had a Hearne column full of Jardines updates and promotion for Glazer?!?!

      It is, of course, a fact that The Star on Sunday is even worse than usual. Guess what? Almost every single Sunday paper in the country is in the same boat. I made it through the Chicago Tribune today in about 30 minutes.

    • admin says:

      Sorry Dude, just sharing a few thoughts

  4. Interesting Fact says:

    No really Hearne is right, once I cleared all the crap ads from todays paper there was the same as nothing left. I mean the evening Star use to be bigger than what I was left holding this morning minus ads any night of the week not all that many years ago.

    • the dude says:

      And this is something new of late?
      Been that way for some time now.

      • admin says:

        It’s an evolution.

        For example, they debuted the heralded new sports columnist, who’s actually a former MU beat reporter from St. Louis engaged in on-the-job-training.

        Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, he’ll get better. He may even be excellent. But let’s just say it was a somewhat inauspicious beginning.

        • Orphan of the Road says:

          Hurt my ankle above, jumping to conclusions.

          Hadn’t considered it was his first column ever.

          When Al Morganti was hired to write about hockey for The Philadelphia Inquirer, his first one was truly outstanding.

          But fellow columnist Angelo Cataldi told him while it was a great article, it was Saturday’s paper and no one reads Saturday’s sports for columnists.

  5. cu_member says:

    The website is going down the same path of the dead tree version. After that, their twitter feed to drawing people to their site with stories on Michael Douglas, Justin Bieber, and Obama playing golf.

    This new columnist didn’t score any points with an outdated and dead story. Although he puts more quotes in a column and Sam ever has. Overall a C- for first effort.

    • admin says:

      You hit the nail on the head about putting more quotes in the column…

      Gregorian is a reporter, not a columnist. I mean, based on his body of work. He’ll have to grow into the column writing schtick and he will.

      But reporters tend to work harder than columnists because they are supposed to have sources to back up whatever points they may be trying to make. And that’s exactly what Gregorian did yesterday.

      Since much of my column in the Star was breaking news – sometimes large scale, sometimes silly or fun, short items, I usually brought in sources via quotes from people agreeing or disagreeing with whatever the topic was.

      Columnists are not required to do that generally. They are allowed to spout off with just their opinions, although bringing sources to the table strengthens their writing as well.

      So thumbs up to the G Man for that. Keep up the good work!

  6. NewspaperDelivery says:

    KC Star is in trouble. They are even having a hard time finding people to delivery the paper routes. They are about 20 routes (last week I was told 22.) They even had a carriers girlfriend pull a gun on another carrier last week at the Lenexa warehouse. Police were called. The paper is getting smaller all the time. Monday and Tuesday paper is lighter than a roll of toilt paper. Combined.

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