Hearne: The Long Predicted, Pending Death of Alternative Journalism in KC As We Know It

Death spiral, anyone?

Enough with the sentimental beating about the bush and kissing up to what little  remains of KC’s so-called alternative newsweekly The Pitch.

And as for beleaguered Pitch publisher Scott Wilson’s tap dance Monday on KCUR-FM – stating the pub’s move from weekly to monthly will finally allow it to get back into long form journalism – who does Wilson think he’s kidding?

First of all, the appetite for done-on-the-cheap, drawn out diatribes and investigations is about the last thing Kansas City wants. If the Pitch were choking out 100-plus page issues every week like a handful of years back there’d be no need for drastic cutbacks to get longer stories in.

And seriously, going to a coated stock magazine format does little to alter the fact that the move isn’t much more than an effort to cheat death…for however long.

The $64 million question:

Will the Pitch will finally pull the plug on its tacky, advertiser-unfriendly sex ads?

Worse yet, what will become of one the Pitch’s greatest strengths, its weekly entertainment coverage?

Make no mistake, this move smacks of desperation and unless a savior appears out of thin air – perhaps the Kansas City Star – by all appearances this is the beginning of the end.

Not that this comes as much of a surprise to KC Confidential readers.

Charles Ferruzza:
Remember him?

Remember two years back when the Pitch relocated across the street into a far smaller space, then failed to qualify for credit to cover its moving bill and had to get an emergency, last minute rescue from its out of town owners to complete the move?

Shortly after that its publisher took a bullet, its few remaining full time writers started shopping their resumes and its most distinguished remaining columnist Charles Ferruzza got laid off.

And trust me, running a glossy magazine – albeit an edgy one – is no picnic.

Can or will the Pitch survive and if so for how long?

They’ve defied death for this long, so anything’s possible.

That said, I wouldn’t suggest holding one’s breath or betting any large sums on its future.

One telltale sign of how bad this have gotten: The Pitch’s yet to even address its own demise;

Another view from more-or-less the inside out and outside back in:

“I would only say, entre nous, that it’s the end of a wonderful era of larger-than-life daredevil publishers and editors who gave a damn about stirring things up and rocking the status quo. If there was ever a time we NEEDED an old-fashioned alt weekly, it’s now.”

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14 Responses to Hearne: The Long Predicted, Pending Death of Alternative Journalism in KC As We Know It

  1. Lydia says:

    I think it is fairly obvious that people don’t want to read what The Pitch is publishing. So of course it is circling the drain. The mere suggestion that the KC Star would bail it out is ridiculous, because the Star is suffering from the same disease.

    • admin says:

      Very true, Lydia…

      And yet while circling that same drain a few years back, the Star launched INK to basically take what was left of the Pitch’s meager readership and revenue streams,

      If nothing else, The Pitch has established a name and that’s worth at least something. But to whom?

      Maybe – just maybe – the Star’s out of touch management and grand Communications.

      Because you see, the newspaper obviously doesn’t get it yet either.

      So we’ll see.

    • Actually admin and Lydia the Star is doing rather well. Innovation and technology and cars.com are allowing them to be profitable. You two have reached the wrong conclusions based on what little you know.

  2. Libertarian says:

    Ferruzza and Angela Lutz were the only ones I read until Vockrodt came on board.

    Not much worth its salt in there anymore.

    • admin says:

      There were a couple other writers still…

      At this stage of the game what Scott is telling us is that with practically no bullets in The Pitch’s gun and his next-to-nothing in terms of experience, they’re going to chart an entirely new pathway.

      Not gonna happen, dare I say.

  3. One Guy says:

    It seems traditional paper media can’t easily morph into a website. Maybe the missions are just too different. You see more success from journalism that was born on the web. There’s plenty of thriving web news sources.

    • admin says:

      Interesting thought, One Guy…

      Ultimately – and I could be wrong – I think mainstream news organizations like the Star will get it right. It hasn’t been easy, nor pretty, and based on how clued out current management and longtime news staffers are, don’t count on anything happening anytime soon.

      But ultimately attrition will force their hands and new blood will replace the current regime that clings to the past.

      Count on far leaner staffing though – particularly in the print media.

      And don’t forget about former Star editor and publisher Art brisbane’s vision of maybe three days a week of 20,000 or so daily print pubs and a big Sunday – along with the web, of course.

  4. CG says:

    We have been with the Pitch, Stanfords, for decades. We always won best comedy club in KC, nice, however its been clear lately they don’t cover much on comedy stars, its mostly music. I also feel its been a midtown paper not so much out south or anywhere else.

    I think some solid exciting cover stories on KC people would help. I mean names we know, like Eric Hosmer, Chiefs etc…more across the board interest. Its a tough battle with all the young crowd just not reading anything but whats on line or their snap chat.

  5. paulwilsonkc says:

    Within 6 months, the Pitch will be pitched.

    • admin says:

      Sad prediction, Paul…

      I still think that The Star or somebody might take over payments and do something to keep the name alive on the cheap but we live in a different world today and even The Pitch – for all its bluster – is sadly out of touch with the Kansas City and Lawrence of today.

      • John S. says:

        Out of touch with the Kansas City and Lawrence of today? To be in touch with Kansas City and Lawrence, would require a lack of integrity, a lack of principle, no character, and a great deal of shallowness!

  6. Harry Balczak says:

    This is what happens when you require registration for comments!

  7. Laura B. says:

    The Pitch would be better off ending its print publication and concentrating its efforts online. There’s a certain amount of skill necessary to reach readers online, but it’s cheaper to invest resources there.

    • admin says:

      Trouble its Laura, there’s virtually zero money available to the Pitch online – especially at this point in time where their resources have withered away to next to nothing.

      The Star makes millions online but that barely makes up a very small percentage of the revenues it needs to exist in what’s left of a staff of nearly 2,100 that has been cut to the bone to probably under 400.

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