With two more recent hires, The Kansas City Star is forging ahead with its new — and encouraging — editorial expansion.
The latest hires are Andy Marso, a KCUR reporter, and Kelsey Ryan, a reporter with the Wichita Eagle the last four years.
Marso will be covering the health care business, and Ryan will be a “data/investigative reporter.” (I’m not sure what that means, but I guess we’ll be finding out, based on what she produces.)
Marso previously covered state government for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He has a bachelor’s degree from KU and a master’s in journalism from the University of Maryland.
Ryan’s LinkedIn page indicates she got her degree from Emporia State University and previously worked for the Emporia State Bulletin and The Joplin Globe.
What is taking place at The Star is nothing short of amazing, as far as I’m concerned. Until January 2016, when Tony Berg became publisher, The Star had done nothing but shrink and oxidize since being acquired by the McClatchy Co. in 2006.
Now the paper is on a roll. Since Berg took over, The Star has added at least 10 editorial employees; it has completely overhauled its editorial board and editorial page; and it has significantly increased the size of the news hole. Those are all welcome developments for readers, and, with luck, they will ultimately result in upswings in circulation and advertising.
Berg deserves a lot of credit for these upgrades, but it is important to note that he could not be doing this without approval from McClatchy headquarters in Sacramento.
McClatchy itself is undergoing significant change. Last month, the company announced it was replacing Patrick Talamantes as CEO. Talamantes had been in the top job since 2012. The new CEO is Craig Forman, a 55-year-old private investor and entrepreneur and a McClatchy board member. Forman’s hiring marks a sharp digression from the old McClatchy model of promoting insiders. (A former Star publisher, Mark Zieman, remains a McClatchy vice president.)
To be sure, McClatchy, which operates media companies in 29 U.S. markets, is hardly thriving. Corporate debt stands at about $900 million, and the company reported a third-quarter, 2016 loss of nearly $10 million. Ad revenue was down about 11 percent from the same quarter in 2015.
Although a McClatchy turnaround is hard to envision, at least the situation is brightening in Kansas City.
Besides, Marso and Ryan, here are some of The Star’s hires within the last year…
:: Steve Vockrodt, a business reporter, who came from the Pitch.
:: Bryan Lowry, chief political reporter, who came from the Wichita Eagle.
:: Hunter Woodall, Topeka correspondent.
:: Katy Bergen, general assignment reporter.
:: Maria Torres, digital and social media.
:: Colleen McCain Nelson, vice president and editorial page editor.
:: Eric Nelson (Colleen’s husband), manager of the digital news operation.
:: Melinda Henneberger, editorial writer and Op-Ed columnist.
Every paper can benefit from fresh blood, and The Star sure needed some. It is — and will be — good to see these new names and faces in the paper. I hope the longtime editorial employees who survived the bloodletting that took place between 2006 and 2015 are more hopeful about the future. They have looked into the abyss for a long time. Now, perhaps, they can look up.