Thursday, July 02, 2009

Has Journalism Reached a Tipping Point?

Something really interesting and perhaps troubling happened last week. A local blog, Tony's Kansas City, made the Kansas City Star tumble into irrelevance regarding a major local story.

It all surrounded the turmoil involving the Citadel and spending city money on a project that has been festering for years. But the merits of that particular project matter less to me than the way it got handled.

In a nutshell, the KC Star was, once again, falling down on the job. While backroom manipulations were going on, the Star remained essentially silent while Tony roared to life. It was Tony, not the Star, that drew public attention to the story. It was Tony, not the Star, that got tongues wagging. I've been watching local politics for decades, and, for the first time I can recall, the backroom shenanigans of the insider aristocracy got stopped in its tracks without the Star's involvement.

Tony derailed a process that the Star was too lazy, incompetent or uncaring to write about.

Sadly, Star reporter Lynn Horsley is stamping her foot and claiming that she didn't drop the ball, rather than acknowledging that Tony did a better job than she did, and promising to be more responsive and courageous in her work.

Will this be the wave of the future? Will smart tipsters, who want to see their information have an impact, eschew the blase' and insider-cozy attitude demonstrated by the Star's fading political coverage?

I think it would be best for all concerned if the Star would show more of Tony's willingness to stick his nose into backroom business and gore a few sacred cows, so Tony could go back to being a joke blog.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Johnson County Star doesn't practice journalism. The Johnson Star primary function is to protect business and the elite of the region. Their other function is to try to determine the agenda for Kansas City.

7/02/2009 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Dan. IMHO bloggers provide important and valuable services to the community not only by breaking news but also by checking the credibility of larger media outlets.

Thanks for doing what you do.

7/02/2009 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why doesn't anyone look at the corrupt Jackson County Sherriff who made a 100k+ of debt disappear from his campaign finance reports?

7/02/2009 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, there is something up with Sharp.

7/02/2009 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

There is another more disturbing possibility; Zieman made the decision not to cover the story after quiet talks with the principals.

That is the sort of move I would not put past him. And, as he's laid off or fired all the reporters who might have gone around him, it worked.

This may sound far fetched but I think it likely - Zieman knows the axe is coming soon, more than likely before the end of Q4. After all, look what happened just today; McClatchy announced that Lynn Dickerson, Vice President of Operations, will leave the company July 17. Everyone who can is bailing before the inevitable Chapter 11. Zieman's hoping by scratching people's backs now he'll land on his feet with a local concern later, saving him and Rhonda an expensive move out of state.

7/02/2009 10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony does a great job of covering various Councilmembers.

7/02/2009 10:14 PM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

Kudos to TKC, the Blogger King. And a tip of the hat to Gone Mild for recognizing the same.

Stick to the hot table Dan and leave the Funkhouser's behind. You may be on to a new theme. Certainly you will lose nothing by discarding them from your life and your blog.

7/02/2009 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all know who Inafunk longs to blow. If Tony's a king, Inafunk is a queen. NTTAWWT.

7/02/2009 11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony doesn't have to be right. The Star does. That's the difference. Tony's often wrong. He just doesn't post corrections, because he gets to have it both ways. He gets to post whatever and if it's correct great he gets to say he had it first, and if not and anyone says shit it's a joke blog. And I'm not sure we should be allowing Tony to dictate which stories are the most important. I'm a little bothered that for all the great ways blogs can replace msm - the one's that have the sleaziest tactics, the one's who amplify everything wrong with the msm system - are the one's to be praised.

7/03/2009 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lynn is simpy not up to the journalistic task of really working a story and getting to the core of it. She likes to get soundbites and then write a story around them. Maybe the Star can't afford to Sunshine, which is why people leak info to TKC. TKC is always showing documents that could be sunshined, but you NEVER see such documentation in the Star. Clearly the combination of no money at the Star to sunshine, and Lynn's non-performance make for NO STORY.

7/03/2009 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the poster at 10:58 AM on the 3rd; Tony can post whatever he wants (and usually does...) and then blow it off as sarcasm / joking when it doesn't pan out. It's different with real journalists.

Ms. Horsley's point about covering a topic only when there's real information is valid. Prime Buzz does an OK job of updating the smaller pieces, IMO. You can't print a 100 word story of what-if's.

Also, I understand criticism when it's valid (and a little may be in this case) but realize The Star only has so many resources to go around (less and less each day). They do the best they can. I'm not saying they can't manipulate--they can and do--but I tend to think we're better off with them than with out them. Cut them some slack sometimes.

7/03/2009 10:09 PM  

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