At The Star, the Thanksgiving Day paper is the biggest and one of the most important of the year.
It’s big because it waves the green flag on Christmas ads, and it’s important because it’s so big it had better be good.
This year, the Thanksgiving Day paper had two stories that particularly caught my attention. One was national editor Darryl Levings’ “Ode to Thanksgiving” on the front page. The other was Randy Covitz’ sports-front update on former Chiefs’ General Manager Carl Peterson.
Levings’ story, a beauty, made me laugh, smile and reflect.
Covitz’ story, on the other hand, was so poorly constructed and edited that it made me clench my teeth.
Join me in taking a closer look.
First, Levings, who sticks to editing the majority of the time, is one of the most talented and experienced editorial employees at The Star. The paper is lucky to still have him after more than 35 years of duty. And the top editors were smart enough to turn his creative juices loose for the paper’s Thanksgiving retrospective.
Levings came up with a spoof on the well-known carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” converting it to “The Twelve Hours of Thanksgiving,” with his true love giving him something every hour.
On the fifth hour of Thanksgiving, for example, his true love gave him her iPhone.
“More family checking in,” wrote Levings. “Americans are so far-flung by opportunity, not everyone can make it home this time. Perhaps, God willing and if the creeks — or, these days, airfares — don’t rise, we’ll see them next month. Sadly some places at the table cannot be filled. Many of the old ones — and some too young, as well — have passed on. They were the ones that got you here, who believed in you despite all the indicators, and who won’t be here to hug the grandkids and laugh at your stories. Ah, we do miss them so.”
On the sixth hour of Thanksgiving, his true love gave him the remote, and, it’s off to the couch to watch some football.
“This is the time to rejoice,” Levings said, “that the Chinese, though they may have taken a bunch of our jobs, have not mastered the building of the 260-pound, quicker-than-a-cheetah linebacker. Nor do they have the gating of the tail.”
(I laughed out loud at that.)
And what did he get on twelfth hour of Thanksgiving? Levings concluded with a crisp and quick kicker:
“Pie. Any way you slice it…is this a great country or what?”
Now on to Covitz’ story. Covitz is another 30-year-plus Star employee, but he wrote the Peterson story like he was a greenhorn. And his editors didn’t have the good sense to flag him down.
The story opens with Peterson in the press box at the Edwards (yes, that’s the way it appeared in print) Jones Dome in St. Louis “with one eye on the field below and another focused on the FanVision mobile device in his right hand.”
He goes on to talk about how Peterson clicks buttons on the device that give him a flood of information, replays, etc., on several games at a time.
OK, so I guess this device is somehow important to the story. Care to share that information now, Randy?
Nope. Instead, he veers off into the highlights of Peterson’s many years in Kansas City. After 12 column inches of historical rehash, Covitz returns to the subject of FanVision and notes, still without explanation, that Peterson’s “clients” include “three BCS games, the universities of Michigan and Miami and the PGA Tour.”
OK. It appears that Peterson has some significant connection with this FanVision operation, but we’re 16 inches into the story, and that connection is still not clear. Not clear at all.
The next paragraph nudges closer to an explanation, informing the readers that Peterson is a partner in FanVision with the owner of the Miami Dolphins.
All right. Now, after this long slog through weighted verbiage, I’d like to know such things as how long FanVision has been in business, where it’s based, how many employees it has, how Peterson got involved and what the firm’s goals are.
But wait! Covitz has other things in mind. Then and there, he jerks the reader in yet another direction — how much Peterson misses game days as g.m. “Every time I go to a game,” Covitz quotes Peterson as saying, “it’s like old home week.”
Excuse me; I have to puke.
…I’m back to the story now, and Covitz shares a nugget: FanVision is based in New York!
Now we’re getting somewhere…BUT we’re three paragraphs from the end, and, all of a sudden, Covitz has to hurry. So, he starts tossing out important information, the stuff we’ve been waiting for, like a football-throwing robot. Peterson lives in New York…but he maintains a home in Kansas City…where his wife, Lori, works for the sports architectural firm Populous…the firm that designed the Arrowhead improvements.
With that, it’s almost time to say goodbye, but not without one more 45-degree turn: Peterson is considering attending the MU-KU game at Arrowhead on Thanksgiving weekend. “That was something we really worked hard to make happen, because Lamar (Hunt) wanted it,” Peterson is quoted as saying.
Maybe so. Maybe so. But Lamar, Carl and the gang couldn’t have worked any harder than the readers who stuck with Covitz and tried to make sense out of this story.