Hearne: It’s Time for KC Star Editors to Get a Clue

maxresdefault-1After a one year hiatus I’ve started taking the Kansas City Star again…


Conspiracy theories aside, my dropping of the newspaper went down quite by accident. Something about getting divorced, moving, misplacing a credit card and beginning a new career.

I know, excuses, excuses. 

However as the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months I came to learn what tens of thousands of now former Star readers already knew. And that’s that life goes on absent the mostly tired, formulaic reporting the goes down at 18th and Grand.

That said, I’m back.

The newspaper underwent rather underwhelming major design changes while I was away and vowed to ramp up its reporting despite going from a staff of more than 2,000 a dozen years back to maybe 400 plus or minus, if that.

The good news; most of the Baby Boomer hangers-on reporters and editors have either fled the scene or taken a bullet. And in this past year the Star has actually made some long overdue, younger reporter hires such as Pitch superstar Steve Vockrodt.

So while certainly those are major improvements the newspaper’s primary problems remain; aging editors and execs who stick with a dated, formulaic approach to news reporting while refusing to read even the most basic tea leaves.

Case in point:

Who among you still thinks national and world news is the best communicated by jamming half day to day old information into print and flinging it haphazardly onto people’s driveways?

Allow me to suggest an answer; Oldsters who’ve followed former Royals star George Brett from his days hawking hemorrhoid cream 35 years ago to his current gig shilling for hearing aids.

For decades daily newspapers survived the competitive immediacy of radio and television by offering greater depth in both local and national news coverage. That was fortified by what amounted to  effective local news monopolies – monopolies that despite competition from the Internet they still enjoy.

However instead of circling the wagons around those, their greatest strengths, local news – the Star continues to pretend its aging readership is dependent upon stale, syndicated national and world new stories cribbed from competing media like the Washington Post and New York Times.

Mother-Teresa-and-the-Express-NovenaSeriously, what in the world is the Kansas City Star doing featuring next day, front page stories about an Italian earthquake? Or former congressman Anthony Weiner’s wife finally dumping him in the wake his sending pics of his “bulging underpants” to a woman on the west coast. Or hints that the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve may be poised to raise interest rates. Or  Mother Teresa being named saint?

The relatively tiny Lawrence Journal World manages to put out a daily newspaper in a town a fraction the size of KC by focusing on local news gathering accented with a small, high quality news insert provided by USA Today.

But rather than put on the pretense that it’s mostly breaking the news, USA Today wisely takes a more round about, in depth approach that transcends the headlines of the day.

Whereas by comparison, the Star presents it’s mostly day old national and international news as if it’s breaking news (which obviously it is not). Unless of course, it’s acknowledging that its aging readership is so out of it, that they’re still mostly learning what’s going on a day or more after everybody else.

Which is kinda lame, weird…

And please don’t try and argue that the Star’s print edition is irrelevant given the immediacy of its online news offerings. Because far and away what’s left of the financial underpinnings of the newspaper – indeed it’s very survival – is based print edition ad sales and subscriptions. If it had to depend solely on online revenue, they’d be lucky to still be in business, let alone suit up a staff of 200

manning_obit_KCStar03Without print revenue there is no Kansas City Star.

Truth be known, take away the obituary pages, comics, horoscopes and crossword puzzle section  – you know, and the national and international news -and the Star would probably curl up and die, both in print and online.

Sad, huh?

However, the newspaper soldiers on, mostly because nobody else locally is originating any truly diverse, meaningful local news coverage. Not the Pitch, not the Prairie Village Post, not Johnny Dare and certainly not KC Confidential. We all have our strengths, but they pale in comparison, even to the massively diminished resources of the Star.

The $64 billion question: 

Can the aging oldsters in charge – at 18th and Grand and in Sacramento – loosen their vice like grip on the past long enough to give the next generation of journalists the opportunity right the course of local news? To engage and bring younger readers into the fold, to whom full page ads featuring former Royals star George Brett hawking hearing aids will fall on deaf ears.

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12 Responses to Hearne: It’s Time for KC Star Editors to Get a Clue

  1. Harley says:

    Hearne…we get it.
    Just like every other daily the star is struggling. But saw ad for digital sales reps.
    You might consider it. Pays 100K.

    was rolling thru stations last night (after weekend in Chicago…)
    and watched comedy centrals roast of rob lowe. Was it funny…funniest roast
    I’ve seen in a long time.
    Your girl nikki glazer was on there. She looked hooooooot. And she was one of the
    best roasters on the show!!!! Saw her at your place when no one knew this
    lady…but she’s hilarious an on a roll. You can take full credit for this woman
    in comedy. Also on was ANN COULTER…..she just sat there. She got the worst
    comments of anyone ever on these roasts. Every person including jeff ross hated
    this woman. Jewel was on there…she tore ms. coulter a new a$$!!!!!! The jokes
    directed toward ANN Coulter were hilarious and pointed out exactly what she
    is…a hateful/despicable/lying/conniving/low life of scum of a human being.
    She just sat there and was booed constantly. Then she got up and said she
    never cuts down people with jokes. HUH? This hag has made money by ripping
    other people all her life…..and yes she’s probably rich…..but a disgusting excuse
    for a human being….YOU SHOULD WATCH IT…..it was hilarious.

    • admin says:

      Look at today’s front page: the main story is, “Final sprint takes off with a focus on Ohio,” alongside photos of Donald trump and Hillary campaigning…

      Anybody who cares about that story and headline got this past weekend. That’s not what area readers want or need to read about in their local daily…not unless they’re shut ins, don’t own a radio and their televisions are tethered to 20 year – old rabbit ears.

      It’s basically news filler. Something to give the impression of value added at little to no cost to the newspaper. Television aside, that’s the way my father got most of his news. He’d get up early in the morning, hit the driveway, pour over the Kansas City Times and be out of the house and on the way to work by 7 a.m.

      Unfortunately for the Star, my father and tens of thousands like him are long gone. And frankly, by the time he passed away in 1998 even he was long past waiting for the morning newspaper to find out what happened around the globe.

      So why the pretense?

      • Harley says:

        You may have turned the channel…but anncoulter is nothing but a
        what each roaster said she was.
        Brilliant tv!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Harley says:

        Hearne…listen to Harley because Harley said this 1000 times.
        From san diego to Miami….daily newspapers are taking a
        beating with their print editions. No doubt about it.
        Biut so are national radio/sports stations/and allthe other
        media taking a huge hit as the net give information in nanoseconds and mintues!
        So are you. If you don’t get more relevant…and its looking
        like you are with old owrn out stories…you to will fade away.
        Luckily daddy left you plenty of money to screw with.
        So they’ve moved to digital and it will last until 300 million
        people get ad blocker and digital fades. Was at conference
        of INTERACTIVE ADVERTISING BUREAU recently and they
        are scared to death about ad blocker killing the internet
        ad industry.
        What’s left? YOu tell me.
        You claim to be the expert…but Harley just invested in new
        technology that will transform the entire internet again!!!!!
        Stop the daily paper bulls*t…we know the story.
        Telll us how the most important media over the last 50 years
        can survive. If you know. I don’t think you know.

  2. Eli says:

    David Spade was disgusting. I know, I know, that’s what’s expected on those things. Don’t know what everyone else said (hopefully Peyton didn’t indulge); I turned the channel.

    • Harley says:

      No…peyton was on his best game. Not as strong as the others…but there;s
      was a deep hatred on stage and in the audience for the hate/vile language/
      lies/self promotion by ann coulter to promote her phony book/ insults/
      the filthy crap coming from ann coulter. They said everything from
      “ann is a scarecrow”….to ann has a horrible p*****….but intruth this is
      no worse than the crap ann coulter has spread on fox news for the last
      10 years.
      It was great to see anntake it up the a$$ with comments equal to the
      bullsh*t she’s put out over the last decade.
      May she rot in hell. and the audience booed her…harassed her…she is
      a dinosaur in todays political world.
      May she get equal treatment after the fox rapists harassed and probably
      ripped her a new a*******!.
      And after jan 8….she’s history on fox news because we know how
      she got those appearances.

  3. the dude says:

    As long as Hoopz keeps pushing Pulitzer material I shall borrow or steal a copy whenever I can.

  4. Laura B. says:

    I’m always amazed that people believe the idea that if something changes, it will be more successful than the past. Elect better politicians, design better products and the world will be a better place. What happens? The world doesn’t change much. Most of the time, one gets something akin to the Vegomatic.

    Want more eyeballs? Write clickbait material. Want more credibility? Be fair and balanced. Everyone has an idea how institutions can improve and, indeed, how they themselves, as people, can make more money, be kinder, gentler people … or be better in some fashion. And that’s what we strive to do … be better at something.

    I’ve long since abandoned the idea that a pretty building makes a great organization, whether it’s the Kauffman Center or the Star’s facility. It’s the people inside those buildings who make a difference … and I suppose to be specific … it’s the ideas that those people inside those buildings have that makes the difference. And rarely does a good idea or a good person come along.

    I like phrase that the music conductor, Sir Georg Solti, coined: “I never worry about the future of music because someone like Bach will come along in the future and change music in ways we’ve never dreamed of.”

    Until then, mere mortals occupy these pretty buildings and struggle with the expectations of a demanding public.

    As with music, journalism, government … you pick the field of endeavor … great ideas and great people are few. And, while we’re waiting for the next genius to appear, ordinary people like me continue to careen through life, going one way then another, thinking that we know what we’re doing. We don’t and neither does the Star. That’s not a bad thing … that’s just the reality of it.

  5. CFPCowboy says:


  6. They make Braunschweiger outta Brownback, now they cook Hop Sing all over Homes Associations, and it’s your so-called contention that the Star ain’t cuttin’ edge no more? Yale Abbadabbadoo & Bob Ross Judge are down to the nearest Starbucks laughin’ at yer ass, Hearne!

  7. CG says:

    Hearne you make good points as usual.

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