Because a truly forward-thinking, progressive city needs a serious, take no prisoners news organization to help lead the way. To inform and inspire the citizenry. Which even given its many flaws, the Star does.
You think KC Confidential or Tony’s Kansas City can deliver those goods? Please.
Absent the above, you risk living in a town like Lawrence, Kansas.
Don’t get me wrong, Lawrence is a charming, little burg, bustling with college kids and profs, a sprinkling of aging hippies and beatniks, the odd local oddball and a hard working, hard partying core population.
It’s also a rudderless town of 95,000 and change, populated by people who remind me of the Eloi in the 1960’s sci fi movie The Time Machine.
For the uninitiated, the Eloi were a “childlike, frail group, living a banal life of ease on the surface of the earth” who were essentially harvested and eaten by the cruel, controlling, cave-dwelling Morlocks.
In Lawrence, a small handful of controlling, mansion-dwelling “Morlocks” control pretty much everything of importance here – within the bounds of the criminal law code. While the sleepy, small town Lawrence Journal World newspaper looks on, doing little more than annoying the Morlocks from time to time, and feeding the Eloi pablum-like front page stories with bold headlines like today’s, “Eating for $2. Free classes show how to make healthy and tasty meals on the cheap.”
Turn to page two of the Journal World and you get nearly a half page of obituaries (small time death is quite newsworthy here), a box with “marriages, divorces & bankruptcies,” a couple crossword puzzles, some story jumps from the front page and a funeral home ad.
This from an “award winning” newspaper, ladies and gentlemen.
I’d hate to see who they’re beating out for the awards.
Lawhorn covers the city hall and small business news beat and is kind of an aw shucks version of the Star’s Joyce Smith. He’s funny at first, but after more than a year of repetitive, self-depricating jokes with asides about tool shopping, beer drinking, bad golf shots and his wife putting up with him, it gets old.
A recently departed Journal World editor told me he was the one who put an end to the newspaper describing Lawhorn atop his columns as “enormously popular.” Uh, better to let the readers decide.
Take today’s column reporting about a gym expansion in West Lawrence:
“In my small basement gym, the only thing that is granite are my abs,” Lawhorn begins. “(Excuse me for a moment. My wife seems to be choking on her Cheerios.)”
The Journal World editorials can be decnt, except when publisher Dolph Simons Jr. hijacks them to put out a Fox News, right wing rant. Like today’s column criticizing Nevada Sen. Harry Reid – a Dem, of course – for criticizing Simon’s pals, the Koch Brothers of Wichita.
“The natural reaction from such charges would be to fight back, but such actions would merely elevate Reid in the eyes of those who share his opinion,” the editorial begins. “The best course of action for the Kochs or their representatives would be to merely ask the Nevada senator to identify and refute the so-called ‘lies,’ and if he is serious about the matter, he should back up his claims with specific information. Or, perhaps the best thing the Kochs can do is not respond.”
Why should they? Simons is doing it for them.
“Instances such as this should cause those interested or concerned to take a close look at the individual making the charges and judge the character, record and mission of that individual,” it continues. “The Kochs don’t need defending.”
Again, then why defend them?
Nobody in Lawrence really cares what Simons thinks about Harry Reid and the Kochs. If they did, they’d have gotten it out of their system three days earlier when Fox covered it.
The Journal World sports section suffers from small town thinking as well.
While it’s pretty much a given that they’re going to write ad nauseam about everything they can think of about KU basketball, it would be refreshing to mix in a bit of healthy criticism now and again with fewer circle jerks.
Take KU’s backing into the Big 12 title Saturday after losing to Oklahoma State…
Basketball Deity/Coach Bill Self was quoted afterwards as saying that because of the loss, there would be no celebrating clinching the championship.
“Rough timing, but that’s fine. It’s about winning titles, not celebrating them,” chimes in sports editor Tom Keegan.
“If KU were to break out the confetti cannons and stage a full-bore celebration Wednesday, it would signal a step away from authentic and onto a slippery slope toward Hollywood.”
Hollywood pales by comparison to the worship and adoration showered on Self and the basketball Jayhawks by the people of Lawrence.
As Lawrence-ite and KU fan Matt Donnelly has stated, I view the interaction between the vast majority of the people in Lawrence and KU basketball as a cult situation.
Which brings us back to the Eloi.
Lawrence is a town of people who’s clothing, cars, houses and businesses are festooned with the word “Kansas” and that cute little cartoon Jayhawk. And like in the “Time Machine” movie, it’s population that seems “satisfied with the pleasure of merely existing” – long as nobody messes with their precious Bill Self and his Jayhawks.