Editor Mike Fannin named president of The Kansas City Star

Mike Fannin
Mike Fannin

Mike Fannin, editor and vice president of The Kansas City Star, was named president of the news organization on Friday, as it begins its 140th year in Kansas City.

Fannin will lead The Star’s overall operations while continuing to oversee a newsroom that has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist the last two years.

“Mike Fannin is among the most talented editors in America today, and he leads one of the country’s greatest newsrooms,” said Craig Forman, president and CEO of McClatchy, which owns The Star. “I’m delighted that he’s now able to expand his influence both at The Star and also with the community that he loves.”

Fannin, 53, was named editor of The Star in 2008, having previously served as managing editor and sports editor. He joined The Star in 1997 after working as an assistant sports editor at The Dallas Morning News. Fannin, a Kentucky native who attended the University of Texas, started his journalism career at the San Antonio Light, which closed in 1993.

“It’s the honor of a lifetime to be able to lead a company that I’ve loved for more than two decades,” Fannin said. “Kansas City has a special relationship with The Star, and we will continue to serve our community and look for new ways to build on that relationship.”

As editor, Fannin oversaw numerous award-winning stories, including the 2017 investigative series, “Why So Secret, Kansas?” The series, which examined extreme secrecy in Kansas government, led to changes in state laws and was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the most prestigious honor in journalism.

The prize was awarded to the New Yorker and The New York Times for uncovering stories of sexual abuse and impropriety that helped prompt the #MeToo movement.

“I’m thrilled we have a great local leader like Mike to step in and take this expanded role,” said Gary Wortel, publisher of the Sacramento Bee and the head of West operations for McClatchy. “We’re lucky to have someone with his experience and journalism track record ready to lead The Star.”

In Fannin’s tenure, The Star has won many national, regional and local journalism awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Award, First Amendment prizes from Scripps Howard, Associated Press Managing Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists, as well as numerous honors from Investigative Reporters and Editors. The Star has also won multiple Gold Cups for best coverage in the state from the Missouri Press Association.

Stories published during that time frame have resulted in new laws or policies to fix loopholes exposed by The Star, ousted politicians for violating their pledge to serve the public’s interest and caught businesses taking shortcuts and putting customers in harm’s way.

An investigation of the meat industry found that mechanically tenderized beef exposed Americans to a higher risk of E. coli poisoning. Reporting on sexual harassment in Missouri’s Capitol led to the resignation of the House speaker. And an investigation following a death on the Verruckt water slide highlighted problems with design and safety features of the 17-story slide, which later closed.

Fannin also oversees five other newsrooms as a regional editor for McClatchy. Those titles include the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Wichita Eagle and Lexington Herald-Leader.

McClatchy, a Sacramento-based publicly traded local media company, owns iconic local brands across the United States, including the Miami Herald, the Charlotte Observer and the Sacramento Bee.

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Steve Vockrodt is an award-winning investigative journalist who has reported in Kansas City since 2005. Areas of reporting interest include business, politics, justice issues and breaking news investigations. Vockrodt grew up in Denver and studied journalism at the University of Kansas.