Cant you talk about anything but politics all the time? asked a voice on my phone lines shortly after the election. Fair enough. Lets look at some reader criticisms and questions that fall outside the realm of government, then.
By DEREK DONOVAN
The Kansas City Star
Readers have been buzzing about The Kansas City Stars coverage of the intrigue surrounding the death of Bethany Deaton, the 27-year-old member of the International House of Prayer, a religious group with a number of buildings in south Kansas City. Micah Moore, 23, has been charged in the homicide, and Moore told authorities he acted under orders of Deatons husband, Tyler Deaton.
One detail in the coverage has bothered some people, as emailer Charlotte Hartung pointed out to me last week:
Please, please stop referring to the International House of Prayer as IHOP. International House of Pancakes is a company of long standing with a public persona that in no way equals the status of the International House of Prayer. I find your usage of IHOP in conjunction with the International House of Prayer to be offensive. IHOP means pancakes, pure and simple.
I think her point speaks for itself. Theres no question that the International House of Pancakes use of the abbreviation both predates and is far better known than the religious groups.
The solutions? The Star could simply spell out International House of Prayer instead of abbreviating it. Or it could also use the abbreviation most common on the groups own website: IHOP-KC. I think either would be a good policy change to avoid confusion in news coverage.
No spoilers, please
Ive heard occasionally through the years from readers who have felt some reviews and news stories about movies and plays divulged too much of the plot. I understand why thats a concern, especially with mysteries and thrillers where unexpected twists and turns are the point.
Keeping secrecy in mind can become even more of a problem with ongoing TV series. Emailer Kent pointed out a quibble he had with recent coverage he saw in The Kansas City Stars FYI section about of AMCs popular zombie series The Walking Dead. He wrote:
I do enjoy the Week in Review that appears on the top of the FYI section once a week (the Huzzah, Hmm , and Horrors meter). However, I wanted to express my frustration about reading the coverage about The Walking Dead. I am a fan of the show.
However, I am a season behind (I just finished Season 2). Although The Star didnt completely say that T-Dog was killed off, it seemed to imply such a thing. Although Nooo! Not T-Dog! could mean that he simply went off on a rant, or beat somebody up, it sure sounds like the zombies got him.
I dont watch a whole lot of television, and I try to look away if I might see an advertisement for The Walking Dead. The little blurb in The Star was a little hard to miss. Anyway, I would just ask to be a little more cautious about giving spoilers away for those of us who might not be completely up-to-date on our TV programs. Or at least warn us spoilers ahead.
Although hard news fans may dismiss this type of topic, I dont think its too trivial to discuss. Readers have a variety of reasons for turning to a general-interest publication such as The Star, and theres nothing wrong with writing about popular escapist entertainment.
An ongoing serial such as The Walking Dead presents a special dilemma for editors. One of the hallmarks of this show is that its main characters do sometimes die.
Theres a fine line to walk in staying current with coverage of the show, which has by now lost a significant number of its original cast to the zombie wasteland. Im not sure theres one good answer here.
Derek Donovan, The Star's public editor, will return Dec. 3.