I know that most of you are thrilled about me being here to report on developments at The Kansas City Star, where I worked for a mostly happy 36 years.
If I wasn’t here, a lot of you wouldn’t know about things like this:
Starting today, The Star has eliminated its Op-Ed page on Mondays. That means that henceforth on Mondays, we’ll only be getting one page of editorial content, instead of two.
The nub: The ever-shrinking Star gets even thinner on Monday, when it already hung in the air for several seconds before landing like a feather on the front lawn.
For those of you who might not be familiar with the lingo, the Op-Ed page is the page that is opposite the main editorial page, which, itself, is home to editorials written by editorial board members; letters to the editor; and Lee Judge’s editorial cartoon.
The Op-Ed page is where you find the syndicated columnists — Paul Krugman, David Brooks, Nicholas Kristof, to name a few — along with excerpts from other papers’ editorials; syndicated cartoons; and commentaries submitted by local residents. (Usually, those run under the “As I See It” heading.)
In a puzzling move, I thought, the Monday reduction was made with no accompanying note or explanation. In the past, when The Star has made significant content changes, it has usually offered an explanation…like several years ago, when the paper eliminated the stand-alone Metro section and collapsed the local news into the A section.
The editors rationalized that by telling us we were going to get a heftier A section, chock full of news from everywhere. Gradually, of course, the A section drifted back to its customary page count (which varies one day to the next) and The Star saved money by using less newsprint.
I presume that’s what’s behind the new Monday reduction: cost saving.
But this time The Star didn’t bother to inform readers about the switcheroo. I guess I understand the rationale: There’s no way to put a pretty face on it, so why would you want to tell readers you’re giving them less?
Ah, but fortunately for you, my readers, JimmyC is here, watching like a line judge at Wimbledon.
As soon as I got to the editorial page today, I knew larceny was afoot.
On the plus side, the page featured two editorials that stretched from the top of the page to the bottom. From there, though, it went downhill. Instead of a half page of letters to the editor, which is not unusual, it featured one letter — bottom right — which was dubbed “Letter of the Week.” That letter, about the new Southwest High School plan, was laid out across two columns, instead of the customary one-column format for letters.
(Can hardly wait for next week’s “letter of the week,” I tell ya.)
Above the letter was a syndicated editorial cartoon, and above that, at the top of the page, was a column by public editor Derek Donovan. It was a banner day for Derek! He hasn’t had play like that on the editorial page for years!
…Despite the conspicuous format changes, I still wondered if, maybe, this wasn’t just an aberration — an odd circumstance that would be rectified next Monday.
So, I sent an e-mail to editorial page editor Miriam Pepper, inquiring about the change.
Didn’t hear back. Well, it’s summer, she’s probably on vacation.
Later, I sent an e-mail to managing editor Steve Shirk. I got an auto-reply saying he was out of the office this week.
Not to be denied, I donned my Sherlock Holmes disguise and worked my way into the bowels of The Star’s editorial operation. And there I got confirmation that it wasn’t temporary at all; alas, it’s permanent.
So, go ahead and cry your eyes out, readers. Mondays just got a little grimmer for us dead-tree-media folks.