Don’t forget the ‘where’

Readers often let me know when a story misses the who, what, when or where. Even though The Star focuses on local news, journalists should remember not everyone knows the area equally well.

News briefs too short?

Putting together packages of briefs from longer stories is actually harder than it may look. But I understand why one reader thought that a brief in the Oct. 1 Local section brought up further questions.

When computer code and page layout collide

It’s easy to make sure hyperlinks and other bits of computerese work online. But when they jump to print, it’s all too easy to confuse readers. The instructions in the paper to enter FYI's Scary Story Contest caused one entrant to make a double-take.

A criminal ‘how-to?’

A reader suggests The Star erred in publishing too many details about a scam hitting area businesses in which criminals covered businesses' satellite transmitters that send data to credit-card companies, allowing them to make purchases on stolen or maxed-out cards.

Only positive memories of Derrick Thomas?

How should journalists cover deceased figures when they have detractors? The premiere of a new documentary on Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas, and a story in The Star that interviewed several fans about their fond memories of Thomas, raises the issue again.

The shortcomings of printed TV listings

There are still lots of people out there who have no interest in 800 TV channels. And I truly sympathize with them. The world of TV has become irretrievably difficult for printed listings to keep up.

Is ‘Obamacare’ a dirty word?

“Obamacare” still somehow catches me up every time I read it — most likely because my brain still thinks back to when it was used purely as a pejorative. But since the administration has clearly taken the word back, should journalists feel free to use it? Tough call.

A new approach to online comments

The No. 1 complaint for years about has been the anonymous comments. Today, anonymous comments are no more. has switched to a new system that uses Facebook accounts. I know readers will appreciate the extra layer of accountability. It’s a step long overdue.

‘Localizing’ wire stories shifts the focus

A reader correctly notes that Star editors often emphasize the local angle in national stories, such as the coverage of the Miss America pageant that emphasized Miss Kansas and her tattoos. But the reader identifies a slight in the coverage that results.

‘Buzzed’ off?

What happened to the regular “Buzz” column skewering politicians? One reader misses it. Editors decided not to run it any longer, and I have to say I haven’t heard a great outcry about that choice.

When a name is also a curse word

What should a general-interest publication do when it wants to write about an event, band or other entity that uses language in its name that wouldn’t normally be published? Journalists shouldn’t avoid using words when they’re the crux of an issue, but you could argue calendar listings are casual and unnecessary places for language that may offend.

Coverage coming on Cleaver town hall meeting

Why is there nothing on or in the print edition today about Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s town hall meeting Thursday night? Steve Kraske attended the meeting and wrote about it in a column for Saturday.

Bishop Finn trombone story divides readers

“I just don’t know why The Star would run a story about this man,” one caller said of the story about Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph learning to play the trombone. But not all agree.

What makes photo ‘digitally altered?’

A caller notes a seemingly straightforward image was labeled as “digitally altered.” Why? Photoshop is a powerful tool that can be misused easily by unethical photojournalists. Yes, you could argue the label here was overkill. But I’m all for it.

Too fluffy or out of touch? Which is it?

So much criticism of the content on But what do readers really value? Are those screaming about the fluff actually clicking on the meat and potatoes news on the site? Is there a way for serious-minded journalism to triumph?

Jarring jargon?

When writing about niche topics, should journalists use lingo familiar to the worlds they’re writing about? Pointing to a story about a developer’s plan to build a new hotel in the Crossroads, an emailer noticed development reporter Kevin Collison refers to “two flags” in the project: a Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn.

Clarifying thoughts on word choice

Readers have criticized my column on ‘People First Language’ — but I’m not sure they followed the reasoning completely. You just can’t make overall statements about “rules” when it comes to something so inherently variable and subjective.

Dealing with ‘People First Language’

People First Language urges us to say “child with autism” instead of “autistic child,” or “deaf people” instead of “the deaf.” The problem, though, is that not everyone who may fall into any one group will ever agree on these matters.