Cover science responsibly and expose pseudoscience

Journalists should document the real-life consequences when science is misapplied — or not applied at all. Matters of serious public policy hinge on science. It’s the lynchpin of medicine, agriculture, transportation, energy and other industries that drive the world economy. It deserves vigilant news coverage.

Substitute for cursing still indicates cursing

Does the use of random punctuation symbols for cursing really negate or obscure the bad words? Not to everyone. It’s understandable that an emailer today brought to my attention how unnecessary he finds it when The Star incorporates cursing into its content, especially in headlines.

When should a ‘news obituary’ be written?

A readers asks why the deaths of some members of the community merit a news story, while others don’t. The question of when to assign a reporter to write a news obituary is purely subjective, and a lot of factors are involved. There’s no specific one-size-fits-all policy.

Can heat really be shut off in the cold?

Readers were moved by the plight of a family in need mentioned in a story featured prominently today. But could their situation be real? The answer lies in the specifics of the Missouri Cold Weather Rule.

B-ad hy-phenat-ion i-s annoyi-ng

Derek Donovan writes: There is one thing that many people who have contacted me in recent months can agree about: The Star’s typesetting system isn’t always very smart when it comes to hyphenating words that are too long to fit on a single line

A plagiarized cartoon?

Two entries by KC editorial cartoonists, published days apart, were strikingly similar. Is this a case of plagiarism? I understand the reader’s suspicions, but using the Taj Mahal in reference to fancy buildings is one of the hoariest of cliches.

Context in ongoing news topics

How much context is enough in news coverage about topics that are written about time and again? One emailer identified a recent example that he thought was lacking in a front-page article on food stamps.

A snub to KKFI?

A recent story about a new radio partnership from KCPT drew praise — but also ruffled the feathers of one aficionado of local community radio station KKFI, who felt the story was missing a crucial mention.

Aborted landing at KCI not newsworthy?

One of the most-read stories Wednesday — about an aborted landing of a Southwest Airlines plane at Kansas City International Airport — was also one of the most criticized. Should it have been written at all?

When politicians write letters to the editor

Should The Star’s Opinion section allow politicians to write letters to the editor? And should they be labeled as such? The letters page is open to all who’d like to submit an entry for consideration, provided that they follow the submission guidelines.

Bad timing on comic strip repeat

A recent day of the comic “WuMo” was a silly joke. But recent news made the taste level questionable. Depicting three racing hot air balloons, it carried the caption, “An installment of the Fast & Furious movies that went straight to DVD.” But fans are still smarting from the untimely death of “Fast & Furious” series star Paul Walker.

One word in Maryville transcript makes a big difference

In astory that ran Oct. 18, a transcription from a recording Melinda Coleman of Maryville, Mo. had made while talking with Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert L. Rice changed a “me” to a “you.” In this case, that’s a difference worth noting in a correction.

Should ‘mom’ refer to abuser?

Headline writing is a tricky art. But readers still often question word choice there — with good reason. A few readers questioned the word choice of the lead headline on the Page A1 story about Jacole Prince’s guilty plea in the horrific starvation and abuse of her daughter known as “LP,” the headline read, “LP’s mom pleads guilty.”

‘Horse(bleep)’ headline gets ’em talking

A headline Sunday turned a lot of heads. Playing off the Colts’ mascot, it summed up what a lot of Kansas Citians were undoubtedly saying themselves: “Horse(bleep).” Most of the reaction has been positive, but not everyone felt that way.

Rendering of proposed KCI is not a done deal

A caller last week was confused by something he was looking at on KansasCity.com, accompanying a story about a group looking to force a public vote over whether to construct a new single-terminal Kansas City International Airport. I understand my caller’s confusion — but he was really putting the cart before the horse.

When dictionary and colloquial collide

The Star generally refers to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but there are some times when Midwestern habits disagree. A reader questioned the use of the word "ornery" in a report on a fire that claimed the lives of two toddlers in Pratt, Kan.

Choosing which reader feedback to publish requires judgment

One of my key roles as public editor is to be the readers’ voice inside The Star. That feedback is often a useful gauge. But it’s also my job to give a public airing to what I hear from the readership, and that requires me to weigh several factors. In other words, it takes editing.

When a business no longer exists, who claims its history?

A reader brings up an interesting point in how to trace a business’ timeline through mergers and acquisitions. Should journalists always trace the lineage of which parts of a company’s business came from entities it later absorbed? I think the bottom line is what makes things clear to the reader.

Spoiler alert!

Warning: Do not read this post if you haven’t watched the midseason finale of “The Walking Dead.” It’s already been spoiled in print in “The Week That Was” feature in Saturday’s FYI section, something that did not sit well with a reader.

Arts critics and their readers don’t always agree

Readers don’t always have the same opinions as critics. and there’s nothing wrong with healthy disagreement. Part of the reason that a bad review of something we’ve enjoyed stings is that the critic’s negative take feels like personal criticism. That’s an impulse we should all resist.