Can a story be both interesting and repellent at the same time? Absolutely, according to readers who have contacted me about how The Kansas City Star has covered the news lately. Its understandable that some readers have felt the overload.
The usually negative hive mind of the Internet has been bashing print media as hopelessly backward for so long now that the snark has become passé. But readers often remind me that some information will forever be better in print.
Theres usually no gray area in questions about medical or scientific terminology. But when the topic turns to organ donation, there are subjective considerations.
If something is published on open social media, its reasonable to assume the author intends for others to view it, and I see no reason in general for journalists to look at it differently.
Its undeniable that journalists, like everyone in the media world, are first and foremost in the business of communication. Readers judge them sometimes harshly on the mechanics as well as the content of their words.
Im not predicting the demise of print any time soon, but its an undeniable truth that the business model that has sustained newspapers and magazines for generations has changed permanently.
Theres no question that many people objecting to the cartoon on the death of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle misunderstood Lee Judges point. But many understood and just plain disagreed. The big shame is that civility was the victim here.
Many opinion pieces in The Star are extremely pointed and provocative by design. But when a column may use facts that are inaccurate or interpreted questionably in the service of a thesis, it falls to me to check out readers concerns.
I can count on readers to surprise me with a wealth of knowledge and intense interest in a huge variety of topics, from energy policy to quilting. And when the news is overtaken by a hot-button issue such as gun control, I always know people will be scrutinizing The Kansas City Stars reporting carefully.
When public officials are acting in good faith, even when that means they take action that may be wildly unpopular on one side of the aisle, journalists should strive for balance by asking direct and probing questions while maintaining a professional relationship with the source.
Journalists should listen when their readers point out that things have gotten too heavy. The paper should of course always remain serious and address the issues of the day head on. But there should also be room for good news, which is also all around us.
The stories of Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belchers killing his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and his subsequent suicide have brought a lot of commentary from readers. And while I hear many differing opinions, a few common threads emerged.
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.
A story on the front page of The Kansas City Star last August carried the headline “The End of the Middle,” looking at what many experts believe is a period of extreme polarization in the country’s politics. As we wrap up the 2012 election season, I’ve found that reader feedback about how the paper has covered the races has reflected that division.
I knew Id ruffle some feathers with my last column about common mistakes some conservatives make when contacting reporters and columnists, but a couple of my harshest critics came from the left. This time out, I have some tips on communicating with the media that Id like to share with liberals.
On Oct. 4, in his analysis of the first presidential debate, Steve Kraske wrote that he thought it was a tossup, while the prevailing sentiment was that Mitt Romney had won. The harsh response from some readers is not representative of conservatives in general, but unfortunately, it also makes the most vivid impression.
I hear a lot of generalized anti-business sentiment from readers, and I understand concerns that commerce can take a backseat to peoples well being. On the other hand, news of a major world retailer such as Ikea coming to the area is about economics at least as much as shopping opportunities.
Its hammered into journalists that they must remain impartial, and that does often result in finding sources on multiple sides of an issue to bring balance to a story. There is no fairness issue in knocking down claims that President Barack Obama wasnt born in the United States.
Word choice can be extremely important to readers on the lookout for bias. In this election year, descriptions of politicians policy views and voting records have already brought a lot of comments to my lines. One of the more interesting topics has been the use of the word moderate.
Readers dont agree on much when it comes to matters political, artistic or humorous. But those who contact me about the use of language are nearly unanimous: Keep it proper and precise.
I keep a detailed log of the calls, emails and other messages I receive from readers throughout the week. Last week, it was easy for me to pick out the biggest single topic: Dud in water, the headline on Sam Mellingers July 29 column from the London 2012 Olympics, which ran in large type on the Sports Daily cover.
As the November elections draw closer, readers minds are turning to politics even more than usual. I havent been surprised that some common themes Ive heard in years past are starting to crop up more often in my inbox. This year, Ive already heard from multiple readers pointing to stories about the presidential campaigns talking points.
Many arrests never result in convictions, so journalists must always weigh questions of the severity of the accusation when deciding whether to report on them.
I understand the reasoning behind The Stars guidelines on the description of criminal suspects, but I also think readers who find them too restrictive have a point as well. Some descriptions can still be useful with fewer than six attributes.
Multiple callers asked why the news of three federal judges imposing new redistricting on Kansas was on Page A4 of The Star on Friday. After some checking with newsroom editors and the production department, I pieced together what had happened.
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.
The Kansas City Star first reported that Kansas City park board member Frances Semler is a member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps on June 12. Since then I’ve heard a consistent stream of reader comment about the controversy.