I spoke to multiple callers last Friday morning who asked why the news of three federal judges imposing new redistricting on the state of Kansas was on Page A4 of that days Kansas City Star.
By DEREK DONOVAN
The Kansas City Star
With all the space The Star has given this in the past, why in the world wouldnt this be on the front page today? asked my first caller of the day. I dont think its a problem that (Page A1) has this article about the NFL and head trauma. Thats fine, even if you might say it should be in the Sports section. But didnt the editors think this is the biggest news of the day? I did. Why would they bury it on Page A4 here underneath the photo of the tango dancers? I almost turned right past it.
I have to admit that I wasnt following him at first, because the copy of the paper Id picked up off my driveway that morning didnt have the news at all. In the position the reader described, I found a story about a Jackson County jurys award of $58,000 to the owner of a Greenwood animal sanctuary where three monkeys had been stolen in 2007.
I checked KansasCity.com, where there was a link to a wire story that had inserts from The Stars staff. And obviously, yes this was big news.
After some checking with newsroom editors and the production department, I pieced together what had happened.
The judges ruling wasnt issued until rather late Thursday evening, and the first wire story about it showed up around 11:30. By the time the newsroom got it ready to print, about 55 percent of the days papers were already off the presses and on their way to homes and paper racks.
Late-breaking stories such as this are a constant irritation to print readers, and I understand why, of course. The 24-hour news cycle has forever changed how print news sources treat information that comes in after deadlines. Simply reporting a late West Coast basketball score in a straight game report 30 hours later simply doesnt cut it any longer, when there are so many other ways for newshounds to find the basic facts. Today, newspapers need to add to the stories that readers are already familiar with after more than a days worth of coverage in broadcast and online news.
Tracking trial dates
Any update on the Rodney Anderson arson trial, which I think was supposed to begin June 4, 2012? asked an emailer last week.
He was keenly interested in prosecutors allegations that the prominent area restaurateur had a hand in planning the fire that destroyed the landmark Hereford House steakhouse at 2 E. 20th St. in 2008. I checked through The Stars archives, and the last mention of a date I found was from a June 11, 2011, story.
It said that an updated indictment against Anderson, Vincent Pisciotta and Mark A. Sorrentino meant that Andersons trial date, then set at June 27, would be rescheduled.
I asked the editor and reporter following the case, and they told me that the date has been rescheduled again for late October as of now, anyway.
Anderson has been charged in federal court, but the reality is that many trials dont take place on the dates theyre originally scheduled. In fact, its not at all uncommon for continuances and other delays to push them back multiple times.
Because so many dates are so transient, The Star doesnt note most of these schedule changes. And so I understand why that leads some readers to suspect the paper has purposely omitted coverage of a trial in order to deflect attention on a high-profile defendant.
Should the paper write a brief about every change in court dates? I think you could make that case.
And theres also an opportunity for journalism inherent in the subject: Why are there so many delays? And do they mean justice isnt served sometimes?
To reach Derek Donovan, send email to email@example.com or call weekday mornings at 816-234-4487.