Squelched by The Star – we love different opinions, as long as they’re ours

When Colleen Nelson was the editorial manager for the Kansas City Star, she made sure that alternate views (i.e., not agreeing with the Star’s leftist position) were published.  But since she left for a promotion in Sacramento, the Star is back to its old ways.  

According to emails shared with the Sentinel, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Kansas, attempted to get two opinion pieces — one refuting a KC Star editorial entitled: “Kansas GOP leader says unfair flat tax will return. It’s an idea that deserves to die” — and a second discussing a bill which expanded scope of practice for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, commonly called “nurse practitioners.”

Kansas City Star Opinion editor Derek Donovan declined both pieces, stating: “I appreciate the contribution, but we don’t run guest commentaries by reps from any sorts of large lobbying groups, whether they’re think tanks, trade groups or nonprofits. Please find another home for it with my best wishes.”

The Kansas City Star’s former home on McGee Street. It now resides in leased space in Crown Center.

However, that appears to not be the case, as AFP-Kansas decided to do a little research, and found 15 such guest columns by left-leaning and other non-profit groups just between May 26 and August 9, 2023:

While some of these organizations say they do not lobby, that’s a distinction without a difference.  They may not register as lobbyists, but they certainly attempt to influence lawmakers (not that there is anything wrong with that.)  Moreover, the purpose of op-eds by such groups is to influence public opinion — and therefore legislatures — and meets the spirit, if not letter of “lobbying.”

AFP-Kansas Executive Director Elizabeth Patton said this comes down to a double standard with the Star.

“It’s a travesty that the Kansas City Star seems to be applying their standard only to those with whom they disagree,” she said. “Our voice as a grassroots organization who works day in and day out to pass policy to further the American Dream should not be considered invalid or unworthy of publication because we disagree with the editorial board.”

Patton’s organization is not alone in being rejected by the Star.  The Sentinel’s parent company, Kansas Policy Institute, gets the same treatment.

“We’re told that the Star and the Wichita Eagle (another McClatchy paper) no longer accept guest columns from organizations,” said CEO Dave Trabert. “But they clearly do so. It’s just an excuse to suppress alternate viewpoints and correct inaccurate statements made by the papers or their guest columnists.”

Patrick Richardson – The Sentinel

Patrick Richardson has been a working journalist since 1992 at community papers across Kansas and for the last 10 as an editor for papers in Southeast Kansas, Northeast Oklahoma, and Southwest Missouri. As a freelancer, he has also broken major stories for national outlets like PJ Media and The Daily Caller. Richardson was born in Wichita and raised in Southwest Kansas and currently lives in extreme SE Kansas, with his wife, two Great Danes, English Bulldog and 10 grandchildren.

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George Pisani

From time to time, local associates of mine have referred to the KC Star as “The Red Star.”