However when it comes to Kansas City Star sports reporter Adam Teicher bailing just as the all-important Kansas City Chiefs football season is about to begin, well, that’s no laughing matter.
Not only was Teicher the beat reporter for the Chiefs – the single most significant news eyeball attracter at the paper – his departure comes on the heels of a string of startling exits. Ranging from newly-minted sports columnist Kent Babb, newly-minted features section head Laurie Mansfield and longtime Star political main man Steve Kraske.
Clearly the handwriting is on the wall at 18th and Grand:
Get out if you can before somebody gets you out.
These are sobering times for print journalism with alt weeklies like the Pitch hanging by a thread and daily newspapers getting smaller and smaller while pondering continued cutbacks in both personnel and the number of days they will continue to put out print editions.
Combine that with the fact that the money just isn’t there online – not in the copious amounts print continues to afford – and who wouldn’t have their eye on the exit door?
Worse yet, Teicher will now cover the Chiefs for ESPN.
The significance being that local sports team coverage has long been the province and strong suit of local daily newspapers. That the mighty ESPN could just march in and waltz off with one of the Star’s biggest sports guns and call him their own is huge.
Which left the Star in the position of having to quilt together what’s left of veteran sports scribe Randy Covitz, its not-fully-established as name-brand columnists and whomever else they can come up with to toss into the mix.
Trust me, this does not bode well for the future at 18th & Grand.
The New York Times or USA Today swooping in and snatching Kevin Collison, Joyce Smith and – who else is even left to take? – former KCTV news anchor Dave Helling? Veteran arts and entertainment scribe Steve Paul?
At some point the newspaper needs to circle its wagons around what little name talent remains. That and/or get down in a three point stance and start turning out a new generation of Jason Whitlock’s, Joe Posnanski’s, Dan Margolies, Hearne Christopher’s and Art Brisbane’s.
Sam Mellinger is a good start, but after that the cupboard looks a little bare.
And who’s to say Mellinger won’t be the next to go? If he’s smart – and he gets the chance (and he probably will) – he’ll be on the next train out.
Then what’s left?
A competent staff of reporters and newsies capable of keeping locals informed, yet largely devoid of color and personality. The bone dry news basics will continue to sell but the days of wine and roses will be in the distant rearview mirror…if they aren’t already.
It’s sad, but it’s looking more and more like the future for Kansas City unless somebody wakes up and gets a grip at 18th and Grand.
As for losing Teicher…
“How hard could covering the Chiefs really be?” muses one Star staffer. “Everybody pretty much takes what they’re given – “blowing the Chiefs” as you so accurately put it – because the press is pretty tightly controlled around the NFL in my humble opinion. So much of sports reporting on TV is just sheer speculation anymore, so that’ll be different. But the Star still has Randy Covitz and no doubt a few young reporters chomping at the bit to help out on Sundays.
“They don’t rush out and hire anybody anymore either these days – is there a new features editor two months later? No. They will probably take one of the college reporters, put him on Chiefs, and go hire someone cheap…someday.”