When news looks like promotion

Of course there are plenty of stories that qualify as news that nobody would want to keep in the dark, but it’s also true that many people want reporters and photographers to tell their stories in the interest of self promotion.

Is it always worth a correction?

The Star’s corrections policy is clear: Right wrongs. But are some of them silly? Whether to run a correction or not usually comes down to one bottom-line question: Did the mistake fundamentally impede or change the reader’s comprehension of what was published?

When two versions of a quotation don’t quite agree

Sometimes when two journalists take dictation, there are two slightly different versions of what was said. Readers notice these details, and they can sometimes matter. Multiple readers contacted me on March 5 to point out a minor discrepancy between two different versions of the same quote in that day’s Sports Daily.

Politics: To wonk or not to wonk?

Journalists should weigh an idea’s political viability and import before giving it big play, regardless of whether the notion has gained traction in the popular imagination. It’s a big and tricky job, and readers always tell me when they think something has gone off the tracks.

Cover science responsibly and expose pseudoscience

Journalists should document the real-life consequences when science is misapplied — or not applied at all. Matters of serious public policy hinge on science. It’s the lynchpin of medicine, agriculture, transportation, energy and other industries that drive the world economy. It deserves vigilant news coverage.

B-ad hy-phenat-ion i-s annoyi-ng

Derek Donovan writes: There is one thing that many people who have contacted me in recent months can agree about: The Star’s typesetting system isn’t always very smart when it comes to hyphenating words that are too long to fit on a single line

Rendering of proposed KCI is not a done deal

A caller last week was confused by something he was looking at on KansasCity.com, accompanying a story about a group looking to force a public vote over whether to construct a new single-terminal Kansas City International Airport. I understand my caller’s confusion — but he was really putting the cart before the horse.

Choosing which reader feedback to publish requires judgment

One of my key roles as public editor is to be the readers’ voice inside The Star. That feedback is often a useful gauge. But it’s also my job to give a public airing to what I hear from the readership, and that requires me to weigh several factors. In other words, it takes editing.

Arts critics and their readers don’t always agree

Readers don’t always have the same opinions as critics. and there’s nothing wrong with healthy disagreement. Part of the reason that a bad review of something we’ve enjoyed stings is that the critic’s negative take feels like personal criticism. That’s an impulse we should all resist.

Protect children in the news

Journalists have a particular responsibility to be careful when reporting about children. Even seemingly innocuous details may cause concern to parents, teachers and others charged with kids’ well-being.

Chiefs fans’ ‘Indian’ dress is problematic

Readers were chagrined to see three photos in the paper from a Chiefs game showing fans wearing approximations of traditional American Indian headdresses and face paint. I find readers’ objections to these types of images reasonable. The Star should avoid publishing these types of photos casually.

A new approach to online comments

The No. 1 complaint for years about KansasCity.com has been the anonymous comments. Today, anonymous comments are no more. KansasCity.com has switched to a new system that uses Facebook accounts. I know readers will appreciate the extra layer of accountability. It’s a step long overdue.

Dealing with ‘People First Language’

People First Language urges us to say “child with autism” instead of “autistic child,” or “deaf people” instead of “the deaf.” The problem, though, is that not everyone who may fall into any one group will ever agree on these matters.

To expose or to ignore bigotry?

Recent stories about ugly, racially-tinged social media uproars have gotten people talking. But some people also say the media should play an active role — by ignoring the topic.

Grim news: How much is too much?

Can a story be both interesting and repellent at the same time? Absolutely, according to readers who have contacted me about how The Kansas City Star has covered the news lately. It’s understandable that some readers have felt the overload.

Print can still trump the smartphone

The usually negative hive mind of the Internet has been bashing print media as hopelessly backward for so long now that the snark has become passé. But readers often remind me that some information will forever be better in print.