Talk about controversial couples…
Seems the newest Kansas City Star addition comes with a bit of journalistic baggage.
Editorial columnist Melinda Henneberger’s been all over the map since splashing down at 18th and Grand recently. She’s weighed in on everything from FBI honcho James Comey to Mother’s Day to fake news to stuff she likes about KC.
You know, the kind of stuff of vital interest to locals.
Not surprisingly, the things Henneberger likes about the Cowtown range from less traffic to freebie concert tix to Star sponsored shows and Midwestern greetings.
And while that’s all fine and good, it may also be of interest – to Star staffers anyway – that Henneberger did not come to 18th and Grand controversy free.
Far from it.
According to Politico Henneberger was ousted late last summer from her position as editor of Washington D.C. political watchdog Roll Call after less than a year on the job.
Henneberger tried to spin her sudden departure as a “disagreement with leadership over staff cuts.”
However according to Politico, Henneberger’s “tenure was fraught with staff departure and turnover.”
“There are a lot of problems at CQ Roll Call,” said another source with knowledge of Henneberger’s tenure,” Politico adds. “While many started before Melinda came on, her vision for Roll Call only exacerbated the issues. Traffic on the site fell significantly on her watch, which only led to an even greater emphasis on clicks and less emphasis on Roll Call’s traditional focus of Capitol Hill. In the end, the newsroom was left with a paper without a vision or mission.”
On top of which, “Another source familiar with her tenure said Henneberger was ‘disengaged’ and ‘constantly absent,’” Politico added.
Good thing Henneberger had pals in KC and was able to work a schmooze with new Star editorial head Colleen McCain Nelson.
Yet while friendship may have saved Henneberger’s journalistic bacon and helped her to land the gig here, it was apparently a contributor to her downfall in Washington, D.C.
“She did herself no favors by letting so many well-known names go and replacing them with her friends,” a Politico source adds. “But her worst failure — one that upper management shares responsibility for — was her lack of vision or a plan.”
Henneberger’s journey from the Washington Post to Politico to the lowly Cowtown apparently will bring another WaPo washout, husband/blogger Bill Turque.
Although Turque’s Linked In page still shows him as a D.C. reporter “covering government and politics in Montgomery County, Maryland” – and he has blog bylines as recently as May 8 – he’s no longer reachable at the WaPo, according to an operator at the newspaper.
Turque’s most memorable journalistic moment went down in 2010 via a Washington City Paper headline that read:
“Washington Post Editorial Board Livid Over Turque Blog Post”
“The Washington Post editorial board is pissed beyond words about Bill Turque’s Wednesday blog post regarding the board’s relationship with D.C. public schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. In the post, which the paper temporarily deleted from its site last night, Metro education reporter Turque blasted editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao for furnishing Rhee a ‘print version of the Larry King Show.”
When reached today for reaction on Turque’s strong words, Armao said, “I am not talking about it in any way, shape, or form,” noting that she’s not even gossiping with friends who’ve approached her on the matter. When asked why she’s going covert on this one, Armao said she was busy with a bunch of other things. I said, “Aw, come on,” and then pointed out that the journalistic thing to do is to open up.
Armao then apologized in advance for hanging up. Dial tone.”