Hearne: More is Less at 18th & Grand

Day old news, anyone?

It’s taken awhile, but I think I’ve finally figured out why daily newspapers like the Kansas City Star make readers pay for national and international news filler in an era where the exact same information – albeit on a more timely basis – is readily available online or cable news networks radio – you name it –  the day before.

Think of it as more is less.

It’d be one thing if somehow that day-old information was rejiggered and presented in a more thoughtful, insightful manner.

Mostly however it’s not.

Generally speaking it’s just the same news most everybody who cares digested the day or evening before, repackaged in printed form and unveiled as if it were breaking news / cutting edge information.

Case in point:

The above the fold headline in today’s Star reads:

“Trump chooses McMaster as national security advisor.”

The only thing missing are the tongue-in-cheek words, “this just in.”

Seriously, it’s so last Monday!

The rationale for running the day before’s Trump news can be explained in part  by today’s secondary front page story about the Kansas City Library and Kansas City Museum teaming to develop a children’s museum at the old Red Bridge Shopping Center in southeast Kansas City.

Here’s the deal…

It’s not that the Red Bridge story’s unworthy, but with the groundbreaking 18 months out, it hardly passes for cutting edge news. And sans the Trump tale, it would have had to have served as the lead news story of the day.

Get my point?

With well over 1,000 staff cuts the past 10 or so years, the Star is hard put to offer up compelling local and area news on a daily basis.

And therein lies the problem.

Instead the newspaper substitutes easy-to-get, cheap-to-buy national news filler to make up for what it no longer can provide. That being, cutting edge local information that readers are willing to shell out a couple hundred bucks a year to get their hands on.

Given that younger readers – we’re talking under the age of 50 or so – are already well acquainted with the Star’s day old info, what’s left is a core readership of oldsters wedded to their well worn ways of stumbling out to their driveways each morning to catch up to news most people have already long since digested.

Were the Star to rock exclusively with original local content provided by what few news staffers remain, readers would have probably be treated to stories like the one today about the teenage cousins who died in a grisly wreck outside Ward Parkway Shopping Center.

Come to think of it, why wasn’t that story on the front page?

It likely would have been in the Platte County Landmark or Lawrence Journal World, two area news organizations that recognize their place in their localities and don’t bore readers with stale national news.

Or plain Jane filler stories like the one about an ArtsKC awards event ( Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz) and a “brunch cafe” opening in the former Board of Trade building just off the Plaza.

The only other local news of any note were short stories about a former Wichita mayor kicking off his campaign for Kansas governor, a KC councilwoman “craving” an ice cream parlor along the streetcar line and a review of a folk singer who played a ballroom in Crown Center.

Put another way, the Star’s beleaguered news staff is mailing it in instead of delivering comprehensive coverage of local news, personalities and goings on.

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7 Responses to Hearne: More is Less at 18th & Grand

  1. Kelly O'Connor says:

    I get less news from the Star, I get old news, and in today’s mail I get my 4th rate hike in 16 months. My monthly subscription in January 2016 was $24. It now is going to be $47.50. A 100% increase. Is everyone else’s going up this much or are they just doing it to me?

    • admin says:

      I can only speak from my own experience, Kelly, but…

      I let my subscription lapse – kinda by accident – and then I got busy and let it ride for a few months.

      At which point you can just about pick your poison on the subscription rate.

      Right now I’m paying cash up front and less than two bills a year.

      Lemme check that in a few and come back, but that’s what I think I arranged a couple months ago for the second time.

  2. This is Fun says:

    Right on point. Great article! Why don’t you forward this stuff to McClatchy Investor Relations Director

    Stephanie Zarate
    Investor Relations Manager
    Phone: 916-321-1931
    E-mail: szarate@mcclatchy.com

    This is exactly why they were almost de-listed. And to the boards credit, if you read through there SEC filings circa 2015, they were talking about transitions. Transitions to video, smaller papers with less filler, more focused in-depth coverage of local issues. You have seen some of this at the Star. Shake-up of the Editorial Board, stories like the one about Firefighter deaths, and a mild shake-up to the site (not as well as they did with some of their other papers).

    The Star could actually be a good paper of record.

  3. Tom Bryant says:

    I’ve subscribed to a daily newspaper for most of my life (and I’m 75 years old).
    But no more.

    The falling Star has gotten smaller in page size, fewer pages and fewer stories to fill those pages – the type has gotten larger (guess it makes it easier for the old folks to read!!!!!) – and local coverage is enemic.

    Given the internet, cable news (and God help us) local broadcast sources,
    the Star has just become irrelevant.

  4. Bill bonks says:

    Actually there is a helluva lot of news in the star these days and jaded fucks like hearne wont admit it it. Check the coverage of the hate crime shooting in olathe. Nonone did it better. If anyone has a rebuttal based on facts, lets hear it.

    • admin says:

      Of course the Star covered the Olathe shooting best, Billy…


      How could they not? They covered the waterslide disaster best too. And the Ace Ventura death.

      Sheesh, how could they not? It’s called the home court advantage. Although in two – going on three – examples, they milked it beyond what was needed.

      The reason: Because they are so undermanned – and trapped in the daily newspaper past – that they require locals to pay up for day old national and international news which is basically filler because they can’t muster enough local stories.

      So for you, the 80 percent empty local news cup is 80 percent full. I get it. Twenty percent of a loaf is better than no loaf at all.

      Which is why I too am a paid subscriber to the Star.

      However we are part of a rapidly shrinking subscriber base and an uncertain future lies ahead for probably the majority of the newsies that remain.

      We shall see!

  5. For whatever faults the star may have in an age where all media is on life support their recent editorial concerning the shooting and murder of the three young men their editorial about trumps silence was right on target.
    He said nothing. About the shooting. About the victims. About the shooter who
    was screaming “get out of my country”. About the hero who intervened and saved
    possible further carnage in that bar. His “alternative fact” spokesman made a few comments but nothing anywhere near what was needed to calm the millions and millions of foreigners who live among us.
    Nothing. Silence. Crickets.
    But the blood of those 3 young men are on trump’s hands.
    His rhetoric and propaganda and hateful speech only further incensed that disgusting murderer who was so drunk and wired that he didn’t know the top from the bottom.
    Trump is to blame for this incident. And then he remained silent.
    As for the desecration of the Jewish cemeteries including one that contained the sacred grave sites of holocaust victims he again was silent. Crickets. Plus the overload
    of violent threats against Jewish centers across the nation.
    Trumps message of hate and vile anger against entire groups of american citizens has spread.
    But we will fight back. Because love trumps hate!

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