Public editor

‘Localizing’ wire stories shifts the focus

Updated: 2013-09-18T00:03:49Z

By Derek Donovan

The Kansas City Star

In recent days, one of the hottest topics on has been about Miss Kansas Theresa Vail, who was the first Miss America contestant to display tattoos during the pageant. The results of the contest got a brief mention in today’s “Around the World” briefs in print, but one reader pointed out a problem with its focus:

I’m writing about the short blurb about Miss America in today’s KC Star. We learned that Miss New York is the new Miss America in the first sentence. In 20 words, we learn virtually nothing about her at all, other than that she is of Indian heritage. The rest of the story devotes the majority of the space to Miss Kansas and her tattoos, with a small mention about Miss Missouri.

While I realize that Kansas and Missouri are your target market, neither of the women representing those states finished even in the top 5. Miss New York, the winner, deserved better treatment from your paper.

She is exactly right to note that The Star’s editors generally try to identify how nationally-oriented stories like this impact the Kansas City area. This reader’s criticism is fair, though I don’t know everyone would agree on it.

To reach Derek Donovan, call 816-234-4487 weekday mornings or send email to Follow him at

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