New editorial writer brings hometown feel, fresh eyes to Star opinion page

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Incumbent Betsy Price led in the race for Fort Worth mayor by nearly 3,000 votes as of 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
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Incumbent Betsy Price led in the race for Fort Worth mayor by nearly 3,000 votes as of 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

After nearly four decades working in newspapers elsewhere in the country, a journalist is returning to his hometown to serve as an editorial writer for The Kansas City Star.

Michael Ryan has most recently been the opinion editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He previously was the editorial page editor of The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle and earlier in his career worked as the editorial page editor at the Topeka Capital-Journal, where he also worked as a reporter and columnist.

Originally from Prairie Village, he has not lived in the area since he left for college in Topeka in the late 1970s. He starts at The Star June 10.

“It’s a very emotional thing,” Ryan said. “Coming home to Kansas City, it’s a unique mix of hometown boy and newcomer, and so I have that history but I also come with a set of fresh eyes, having not lived here in a long time … it’s the best of both worlds, really.”

Colleen McCain Nelson, vice president and editorial page editor of The Star, said Ryan’s deep experience, Kansas City roots and unique perspective on politics and policy make him an excellent fit for the job.

“He is a compelling writer who will deliver thoughtful and insightful commentary,” Nelson said. “Michael is eager to engage with the community and is committed to helping The Star Editorial Board lead an issues-focused conversation that is both civil and constructive. I’m thrilled he’s returning to his hometown to join our team.”

Ryan, who described himself as “Kansas City born and bred, and barbecue fed,” said he is looking forward to getting to work at The Star.

“The opinion journalism game is one where you do a number of things,” he said. “You hopefully can help by pointing out problems and suggesting solutions. But also pointing to what’s great, and there’s a lot of that in Kansas City.

“I think an editorial page also affords a unique opportunity to exhibit leadership and hopefully make a difference. It’s also just fun.”

The goal of promoting civil and productive discussion is one that Ryan keeps in mind as he goes about his work. It’s an effort in which he and others “are running up against a lot of headwinds,” he said.

“Civility is just not either the trend or the fashion, but I think it’s essential to our form of government,” he said. “If we can’t talk to each other in a civil way, and disagree in a civil way, then we’ll never be able to solve our mutual problems.”

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