I don’t know how many people noticed (probably not too many because The Star didn’t publish it, to the best of my knowledge), but The Star is losing another key cog in its editorial operation.
Anne Spenner, who has been assistant managing editor/metro the last few years, is leaving later this month to become vice chancellor of marketing and communications.
In UMKC’s website announcement on Aug. 30, Chancellor Leo Morton put Spenner’s title in capital letters and said, “Anne will direct UMKC’s marketing, branding and communications efforts and will play a key role in developing a comprehensive strategic communications plan.”
Well, you get the idea: She’s going to be the school’s chief flack.
Anyway, good for her; she’s getting out at a good time after a nice run of more than a decade at The Star.
Among other accomplishments, she founded the paper’s online Midwest Democracy Project, a successful vehicle for keeping abreast of political developments and linking readers to local blogs of interest (including this one, sometimes).
Spenner’s defection follows that of former Metro Editor Randy Smith by two years. Smith, who had moved on to the paper’s business side a few years in about 2007, joined MU in 2009 as the first Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism. His job involves, among other things, developing, testing and writing about new digital models of journalism and advertising.
When Smith resigned, The Star did not write about it. I thought they should have run at least an item because of the high profile he had enjoyed at the paper.
Although Spenner maintained a lower profile, I think that her move also merited at least a mention in the paper. The metro editor is a mid-level manager who comes into contact with many members of the public and whose name is recognized by more people than any other desk editor.
My personal theory on why neither Smith nor Spenner got a mention is that The Star is embarrassed about the defections of high-ranking people. It’s another sign that the ship at 18th and Grand continues to take on lots of water.
Congratulations to Mike Hendricks, who had an outstanding A1 story Tuesday on the KCK elephant that seemingly cannot be brought to the ground — the old Indian Springs Shopping Center.
To the readers’ benefit, Hendricks has been doing a great job since he returned to full-time reporting recently after years as a metro columnist. He was the lead reporter on the Kansas City curfew story a few weeks ago, and yesterday he jumped the state line to report on an issue that continues to flummox Wyandotte County’s Unified Government.
Among other things, Hendricks contrasts the mushrooming growth out west — at the Legends shopping center and the adjoining Village West development — with the frustrating situation at Indian Springs, I-635 and State Avenue.
The Unified Government thought it had a deal worked out for redevelopment of the shopping center a few years ago, and it borrowed $11.4 million to get things going. Unfortunately, the deal fell through, partly because of the Great Recession.
Now, only about 30,000 square feet of the mall is occupied — all, or almost all of it, accounted for by city-related programs — but the city is paying $635,000 a year in debt payments on the loan. That amount will jump to $1 million in 2015, Hendricks reported, “whether there’s an income stream of sales tax revenue from the project or not.”
In Kansas City, it’s the still-new-looking Power & Light District that’s draining millions of dollars away from neighborhood and community services. In KCK, it’s a moribund, 40-year-old shopping center. Let’s hope it comes down within at least a few years of the razing of the World’s Worst Development Gone Awry — the West Edge project on the Plaza.