I saw this morning's, today's Kansas City Star and just looking at the front page and then through it shows you, easily, quickly, precisely what's wrong with it.
If you have one, if you saw it, you know the biggest part of the entire page was one big picture. That's all.
Mind you, it was in color but that was it.
And that story?
It was a sports story.
Sports. On the front page.
You'd think that might be in---what?---the sports section? Maybe a small teaser about it on the front page and then the huge pic and story there?
Nah. It's the Kansas City Star.
Then, after that, what's up? What else is on the front page?
What caught my eye and what likely caught the average reader's eye was a rather large title to the left declaring "The Star gains a new leader." (For a moment, I thought it read "reader." We all know they're pretty desperate).
What got me and gets me about this is that their big news for the city is----ta daa!----all about them.
I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, does anyone besides the people at the newspaper and the person's family and friends truly care or bother themselves with who, exactly, is the publisher, new or otherwise, at the local newspaper? I know I don't. Well, not unless he or she could somehow save it all.
From there, the front page has yet another color picture, this one on the standoff by the domestic terrorists in Oregon and it takes up about 1/4 of the page. After that, is has a small teaser about North Korea's leader possibly setting off a nuclear warhead. Something trivial like that. You can open up the paper and check that out if you want.
So of all that, what DOESN'T the front page have?
It doesn't have any local stories on local topics that are important to Mr. and Mrs. Kansas City in the area. You know, you and me.
Nothing on City Hall. Nothing on Mayor James. Nothing on any of the city's larger issues and problems. Nothing.
Of course, that's what you get when you slash your budget and lay off so many of your local reporters and writers.
What's in most of the paper?
Articles on the nation and the world that come off reporting wires like the AP. Things you can get anywhere. Things that people do, in fact, get anywhere. Like the television and their computers.
If you don't have local stories with local problems and possible solutions and local people and stories with local color, why have a newspaper? Indeed, why GET the paper?
And that is what is wrong with any and every newspaper in this nation, if it's struggling. It adds to their problems of people turning away from these things anyway.
People are, as I said, already turning away from newspapers. Why really chase them away because you don't cover local stories and local people? You have to have good writing on interesting, even important, compelling stories that matter to the residents or there's really no reason for you to exist.
I said it here before, as the Star transitions from newsprint to the computer, as all media is, it would behoove the organization to get people with cameras out in the city---still and moving video---for local stories and local events. It would give people reason to go to their sites.
But if the printed paper cannot and does not give local writing and reporting, it only hastens the decline of the paper, it increases the numbers of people not taking or buying it and it only brings on the demise of the paper that much faster.
It seems obvious, to date, where the Kansas City Star is headed.
I don't hope or wish for it but it surely seems certain. This star is setting. And pretty quickly. Sadly.
Side note: What's both ironic and really pretty awful is that the cheap, sleazy, "yellow journalism" exhibited daily, nearly hourly over at "Tony's Kansas City" blog probably does a better job of covering local stories, especially at City Hall, and across town, than the Star. Even with his tabloid journalism techniques, his ALL CAPITAL LETTER headlines, his repeated use of the same, tired photos for story after story, his blatant sexism and his allowing deeply racist, really ugly, even hateful people to post comments on his site, it, tragically, probably reports more local news better than the Star.
If that isn't enough to make one almost nauseous about local media, nothing will.