Hearne: Will ESPN Help Drive Final Nail into Star Coffin?



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.

What’s next?

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.

randyYou guys should see what passes for news in Lawrence at The Journal World.

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.”

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10 Responses to Hearne: Will ESPN Help Drive Final Nail into Star Coffin?

  1. Rick Nichols says:

    ESPN really doesn’t generate a whole lot of original content, and right now this so-called “giant” is apparently backing away from a story dealing with the concussion issue in the NFL, so I have little or no respect for ESPN as a journalism entity to begin with. My “recipe” for a better Star is a reduced sports section, but one in which a lot more attention is devoted to the area colleges, especially the small colleges, and the area high schools. Moreover, The Star did not need a second sports columnist – bad move! And that “recipe” also includes either a smaller FYI section or at least one that is not 99% devoted to the worship of America’s pop culture. Where’s the news from suburbia (and I don’t mean once a week in 913)? Where’s the society section? Where’s the club news? Run more letters to the editor!!! Names, names, names – find ways to get more people “invested” in the paper by running stories that have a lot of names in them. And PR. I bet it’s been six months since I e-mailed somehow at The Star with a compliment or a complaint and actually received a response. Not good. VALUE your readers!!! I’m done “ranting” for now, but I’m sure I’ll think of something later.

  2. Orphan of the Road says:

    “News” is what fills the white space around the ads. Today that news is primarily grabbed off of a wire service at The Star.

    Seeing the same, exact story several times a week is a sign those in charge are coasting.

    Since The Star depends on the advertising dollars (and access) of the pro teams, they are bland and often turn a blind-eye to anything which whiffs of controversy or might displease their overlords.

    There was a time when Roy Roberts and The Star ruled the area. This led to the Supreme Court sanctioning them and the sanction was only lifted a few years ago.

    IF they are providing a service which people want, they can fail and another group can take up where they failed.

  3. bschloz says:

    Maybe Bezos will pick the Star up for a song. Turn printing plant into Book warehouse.
    I nominate Lefty, Kerouac and Chuck to fill the Chiefs void.

  4. Real American says:

    Putting yourself in the class of real writers is further indication of your self-delusion.

  5. Nick says:

    The Star’s eventual diminishment, with talent either leaving or shoved out the door, is nothing new.

    The real question is whether another entity steps into the Star’s eventual (virtual) demise and what that would look like.

    • admin says:

      You’re correct, Nick.

      But since it’s a historic, sea change shift in pop culture and the media, it’s hard not for me to want to cover it. And since after 16 years there I’ve got some pretty good sources and a wealth of personal information (and hopefully perspective), why not?

      I like to think that I’m able to see things from the inside out as well as the outside in. Trust me, you don’t get edited as closely as I did for 16 years and “intrude” on as many different “beats” as I did without having some insight.

      I think the Star – whoever owns it when it happens – will step into its own demise, as you put it, and learn to adapt to the way news is gathered and presented these days.

      All they have to do is thin out the aging Baby Boomer editors and reporters who are married to the Old Ways – the monopolistic news ways.

      Then pare down the overhead to manageable levels – they’ve gone from more than 2,000 employees 10 years ago to 700 plus or minus today. But they’re still not there. In a perfect world they’ll need to narrow that down by half or more and reporters won’t be able to lay back on their beats like they’ve grown accustomed to.

      Way less today than five years ago when I left even, but they’re still not there.

      I remember several years ago FYI got this ass-kicking young intern woman who spent like a summer running circles around the entire section before going back to school and on to her career. And I remember Bryan McTavish marveling at how prolific she was – and good – kind of like making everybody else in the department seem like they were working in slow motion.

      The laid back days of reporters at newspapers are fading fast. Really fast.

      • Nick says:

        You may well be right re the new generation of upcoming reporters, which would be great to see.

        Just not convinced McClatchy intends the Star to be more than USA Today Midwest.

  6. PB says:

    What are you talking about, The Star still has Jenee’.

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