Last Saturday, former Kansas State Rep. Ron Worley emailed me to express his disappointment in that days print edition. He had wanted to see how Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran had voted the previous day on continuing funding for the federal government.
By DEREK DONOVAN
The Kansas City Star
But there was nothing in print that day to note both senators had voted against it. In Missouri, Sen. Claire McCaskill was a yea, while Sen. Roy Blunt was a nay. True, it was another incremental step in the roiling gridlock that led to this weeks shutdown of the federal government, and its defeat in the Senate surprised no one. Still I understand Worleys point.
I would rather get the news and information I want from my morning paper but it appears more and more to be the case that The Star does not want to provide that news, he wrote. He knew how to find the roll call online, but wanted to see it in print.
Devotees of the hard copy have told me for years that they feel slighted in our increasingly online world.
I dont want to have to go to my computer to read more, said a caller recently. Its almost like (editors) want us to quit taking the paper. I need my cereal, my coffee and my Star.
Some requests for expanded print coverage arent feasible, such as the frequent call for the FYI section to print a daily listing of every show on TV.
That may have been possible a generation ago, when every household received the same dozen or so channels. Today, area households may get their TV from Comcast, Time Warner, Surewest, DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-Verse or Google Fiber. Each has a different numbering system and none offers exactly the same channels.
The challenges in the face of this ever-widening TV variety are obvious. No, print cant keep up in this arena.
The paper has obvious unique strengths, though. A Twitter user wrote yesterday: I still read my @KCStar newspaper because I know where it starts and ends. Web news has no end.
Thats an excellent point, and its one that I think the print medias critics often overlook. Its very easy to armchair quarterback decisions about why Story X didnt make the front page, but I attend two news meetings focused on the print edition every day. I can tell you that editors put a great deal of thought and discussion into what goes where and how its presented.
In general, Im not a fan of ombudsmen playing If I Ran the Newspaper. But the preponderance of reader feedback is crystallizing more clearly every day. I think its time for The Star to step back and reassess print with fresh eyes.
KansasCity.com is now 17 years old. The hundreds of thousands of people who choose to read The Star in its paper incarnation do so quite intentionally. They dont consider it an also-ran. Its their preference.
I dont know of any industry thats remade itself so completely as print publishing has over the past decade. Readers constantly offer suggestions of what the print edition should deliver in the Internet age.
They love sports standings. They want a national weather page that lets them compare Reno to Salt Lake City at a glance. They want to know when trash collection is on holiday schedule.
And for goodness sake, bring back the weekly How They Voted tally of the local congressional contingents votes. Readers miss it clearly.
Every day, the masthead reminds us that William Rockhill Nelson proclaimed The Kansas City Star a Paper for the People. He could never have foreseen the Internet curveball.
In a lot of ways, weve become many different people, each with niche interests. And your feedback helps editors steer the information youre looking for when you pick up the paper from your driveway or a newsstand.