Public Editor

Sure, Star readers criticize and quibble — but they often have good things to say, too

One French professor said “oui oui!” to this headline’s proper French.
One French professor said “oui oui!” to this headline’s proper French.

I don’t want to look like a salesman for The Kansas City Star. But the truth is that I do get a lot more than just complaints from readers.

I seem to have heard more positives than usual about The Star’s coverage in recent weeks, so it’s worth sharing some of them.

The front page centerpiece on April 3 about Catholic nuns who work tirelessly to serve the needy along Troost Avenue generated multiple accolades from my callers and emailers.

“Thank you for the wonderful articles in this mornings paper about Fr. Flanagan and Sister Donna Ryan and the other nuns and all the good work they do,” wrote one typical emailer. “It’s a great joy for The Star to print something positive about the Catholic religion instead of them trying to find out something bad to report.”

Of course I realize that news coverage of the sex scandals roiling the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City–Saint Joseph in recent years has exerted a heavy toll on loyal Catholics. While I understand that some don’t enjoy seeing that news, I also think it’s vital for the news media to cover it.

And indeed, I’ve heard from a great number of Catholics themselves who have insisted that journalists hold the church’s leadership to high ethical standards during these trials and tribulations.

In less serious matters, one almost-constant source of reader approval is the often-punny headlines in Sports Daily.

“Sometimes I groan and moan and say how obvious they are, but then I realize they made me smile,” said one caller.

“I was thrilled to see the repeat sports headline, Déjà Blue — this time with all the right accent marks!” emailed another reader, about an April 4 Royals headline on the sports section cover.

She identified herself as a French teacher, and I remember when she contacted me about the same headline, this time on the front page of Oct. 13, 2015, when the team won 9-6 over the Houston Astros in American League Division Series Game 4. That one read “Dejá blue” — close, but not quite proper French.

The Star’s photography also generates a lot of reader kudos. I can’t count the number of people asking me to help them get prints, whether it’s a grandchild caught having fun at a carnival or action from an exciting game.

I have to let people down most of the time on the latter request. Journalists are strictly forbidden from selling photographic prints of images from professional or college sporting events. Period, end of sentence. The same goes for most professional entertainment events, such as theater and rock concerts.

I also hear almost every day from people who want prints of photographs that ran in The Star years ago. That’s another category of question that can be answered almost only with disappointment.

The Star is one of more than 20 regional media companies whose collections of old photographs are currently in limbo. These companies all entered into agreements to have an outside service scan their entire photographic archives, making them digitally searchable, instead of remaining in manila envelopes inside filing cabinets, as they’d been housed for decades.

To make a long, sad story short, things didn’t go according to plan. The archiving company has been sued by a number of its former partners, and the work has not been completed.

When the legal and technical issues are finally sorted out, the hope is to make those images readily available to the many people who want them. But there is no road map for when that might be possible as of now.