Readers alert me to all manner of omissions in The Kansas City Star’s news coverage, sometimes pointing out instances where a dropped detail amounts to an error.
However, what people sometimes identify as oversight may in fact be related, but ultimately ancillary to the news story in question.
Those “extra” suggestions are often excellent ideas for further coverage. One example, from an emailer in reference to a story of mine in the Nov. 1 Business section, alerting Star readers to a nationwide scam involving phony invoices mailed to unsuspecting periodical subscribers:
“On that note, you might want to check into the ‘notch baby’ scam,” suggested my correspondent. “My 95-year-old mother is convinced that she is not getting the amount of Social Security she is entitled to. Naturally, there is a group or groups of scammers who are all too happy to accept money for endeavoring to get this money for the ‘notch babies.’”
The “notch babies” are U.S. citizens born between 1917 and 1921 who were affected by a Social Security miscalculation of inflation in the 1970s. The situation involving their benefits has long been resolved — but this reader is correct that there are still people actively trying to trick senior citizens out of their money with a variety of false and confusing claims.
The Star has actually written about these “notch baby” scams several times through the years, though my check of the archives tells me it was all the way back in 2001 that they were last addressed head-on. Enough time has passed that bringing it back up in 2014 is certainly a good use of precious print real estate.
But what about reader suggestions for more coverage of something that has been the subject of a great deal of ongoing coverage, sometimes over the course of many years?
I heard from multiple readers after the Nov. 4 front-page story about the dispute over dueling proposals for the redevelopment of Kemper Arena. The story was about a specific topic: a letter a lawyer for the American Royal sent to Foutch Brothers, warning them to “cease and desist” from efforts to have the West Bottoms landmark declared a historic structure to move ahead with plans to turn it into a youth sports complex.
“What the article should have told about is how we ever even got to this place,” said a caller that morning. “It should explain all the dropped balls and promises the city has given people over the years.”
Another reader thought the story should have delved into Kansas City’s lack of an NBA team, which he thought was the main reason for the Kemper’s falling out of favor.
There is nothing wrong with either of these story ideas — yet they aren’t new to the pages of The Star. In fact, I would say Kemper Arena has been covered at least as much as any other major local structure.
But much of that coverage has been incremental as news has developed day by day. Readers often remind me that not everyone sees every day’s news.
There are many faithful readers who would appreciate a major update on this subject, like lots of others. Journalists need to repeat themselves sometimes.