Last one out turn off the lights?
No way…not after the Kansas City Star laid the pipe today to longtime lead editorial columnist Yael Abouhalkah. Think one less dead tired, relic of the past, making room for new, fresher perspectives.
“Good Monday morning. I am on to a new adventure after The Star decided to lay me off this morning after almost 37 years there, including 32 years on the Editorial Board,” wrote a glib Abouhalkah on Facebook. “Quick observations:
“1. Everything is OK! Great wife, two super kids, house paid for and even decent savings. And good severance pay (thanks, KC Star readers!) More time for gardening and running.
“2. Yes, will definitely miss writing about the local/state political worlds and miss the positive and negative reaction I got from readers.
“3. My wife already has plans for the future.
“4. Really appreciate all of the kind words – even from people who said they often disagree with me — that I’m hearing already.
“5. And FINALLY I get to say what I really think about Sam Brownback and Donald Trump.
Cheers to all.
Whereupon former Star editorial columnist Barb Shelly laid an overwrought, embittered schmooze on her freshly vanquished former stablemate.
“This morning the Kansas City Star laid off Yael T. Abouhalkah, one of the nation’s smartest and boldest editorial writers,” Shelly began. “This comes after Star management has stalled for six months on replacing myself or Steve Paul after we took buyout offers. Yale and Lewis Diuguid have been working around the clock trying to keep the pages together. I can only surmise that Yael’s continuing advocacy for better web placement and visibility for opinion was too much for Star publisher Tony Berg to handle. Or maybe the complaints about Yael’s relentless scrutiny of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback had their effect. Either way, this is a terrible day for the Kansas City Star and for local journalism. I don’t even want to think about what the upcoming major endorsement editorials are going to look like.”
Now a little inside baseball…
In his prime – during the late 1980s and early 1990s – Abouhalkah carried a pretty big stick.
After all, the Star was KC’s 800 pound news gorilla back then and Yael was the feisty, happy terrier tugging at the pant legs of City Hall’s good-old-boy elite.
Trouble is, like most of the journalists at 18th and Grand his opinions and pursuits were all too predictable. Just like his parting shot at the newspaper implying that only now will Yael be free to to rip Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump ad nauseam. Which, um, hold it, is pretty much what he, Mary Sanchez and the rest of the liberal, old guard have been doing nonstop since forever.
Now allow me to startle some readers by paying a sincere compliment to the now Yael-less Kansas City Star:
By virtue of the newspaper exorcising most of its Baby Boomer writers / reporters, it’s fast becoming a more relevant local news organization.
Yeah, the newspaper still wastes far to much time and space on rudimentary, day to day-and-a half old news, adding little content or substance for all but the most uninformed readers. If the newspaper needs to fill space, either ramp up the local content or find news angles that transcend the repetitious and mundane.
That said, a number of new bylines and approaches to reporting are making the Kansas City Star a far better news organization.
And the fact that – as Barb Shelly laments – Yael won’t be around to beat the same-old, same-old dead horses is actually quite a good thing.