I always hear a lot of good comments from readers, but the feedback has been unusually interesting recently. Lets look at a few items that Ive found worthy of note.
By DEREK DONOVAN
The Kansas City Star
• I got a phone call last week from a Northland business owner who had been getting calls from friends alerting him to an unfortunate coincidence. They had seen a news report on a local TV station about a Johnson County man who was arrested on child pornography charges. The name of the man charged was the same as my callers, right down to the middle initial.
He asked me whether The Kansas City Star had run a story about the charges. If so, would it be possible to add a line noting that the suspect is not the same person as the business owner?
The Star hadnt reported on the arrest, which was for a crime that is unfortunately not exceptionally unusual.
I checked a reliable database of public records and discovered there are listings for at least five people in the Kansas City area with the same first and last names as the man charged. None of them have addresses in the same city as the suspect.
Believe me Im very sympathetic to my callers concern, which Im sure Id share if I were in his shoes. If the business owner were a prominent public figure, a news report should probably differentiate between the two. In an instance such as this, though, I would say that identifying a suspect by his age and city of residence would make it clear enough.
• The majority of reader concerns about fairness in news coverage involves politics no surprise there. Many avid followers of the news are also keenly interested in politics and want journalists to give the topic highest priority. But one recent emailer brought up a minority viewpoint that Ive heard others express in the past.
With about five months to go before the big election, Id appreciate a little less politics, he wrote.
The FYI is (should be) one respite from things political. I was disappointed to see Jeneé Osterheldts May 14 column on same sex marriage to be political. You can argue that it wasnt, but in the same week the president makes a statement on the same subject, its hard to separate the column from politics.
Even Stone Soup had the need to go political for several strips. I know several of the strips are frequently political, but you have those grouped together and I ignore them whether I might or might not agree. The comics are fun.
Political overload is real, especially to those who dont enjoy punditry. I understand wanting to segregate the subject to the news and opinion sections.
• Does the website not mimic the paper? asked a reader who was having trouble finding a story on KansasCity.com after hed read it in the print edition.
As a reader and subscriber thats what I would expect, he wrote. If it doesnt, why doesnt the website indicate that what you find there is just an approximation of what you find in the paper? And if thats the case, thats crazy.
Hes far from the first person to make that observation. Most items that appear in print do go to KansasCity.com, but the story this reader was searching for ran in the FYI section. There isnt a separate FYI section on the site, so I wasnt surprised he had trouble.
There are some similarities between the organization of KansasCity.com and the print edition, but editors made the conscious decision years ago not to make the website mimic the paper too closely. The thinking is that what works in one medium doesnt always translate to the other. I get that but I agree with readers whove told me the two need more parallelism.
Remember there is the E-Star at estar.kcstar.com and its an exact electronic facsimile of the print edition. Plus, its free for home subscribers. I often hear from people who think its the best of both worlds.
To reach Derek Donovan, send email to email@example.com or call weekday mornings at 816-234-4487.