Thursday, October 8, 2009

Did the Johnson County Sun Fire Its Editors?

Since our inception, we at Kaw & Border have not been easy on the good ol' Johnson County Sun, particularly its publisher, Steve Rose. The local rag, which is now mailed to homes in an attempt to force people to read it, has declined sharply in quality and in impact over the years, save local city elections, when the 9% of people who actually vote still rely on the Sun for information, largely becuase it's sadly one of the only sources covering Spring elections.

Unlike many in Johnson County who do not receive it, we at Kaw & Border do, and given our interest in the 3rd District race, took particular interest in this article, entitled "Several folks still eyeing 3rd District Congressional Race." We'll skip right on by the odd use of "folks" in a newspaper headline and move straight to the content of the article, written by Chuck Kurtz:

This is quite possibly the worst piece of journalism ever written.

In this instance, it wasn't because the piece was slanted to the left, or even to the right. It wasn't because it didn't have some decent quotes and information -- it did. The problem is that it was horribly written, completely ignored some candidates, undermentioned one candidate, and over-covered people who the article even admits aren't even running, while ignoring another one who is seriously considering it. The end result was that it didn't provide readers with actual information about what is going on in the race.

Let's start off with the fact the article only briefly touched on the one major candidate who is actually running (as we've talked about here a few times) and that is Patricia Lightner. Here is the excerpt:

With the Republican primary less than a year away, the names of possible contenders to challenge 10-year Democratic incumbent Dennis Moore for the 3rd District congressional seat are numerous.

So far, only one is for sure: former State Rep. Patricia Lightner, R-Olathe, who lived in Overland Park when she served in Topeka from 1998 to 2004. She filed with the Federal Election Commission last August to seek the Republican candidacy to go against Moore.

She considers herself the front-runner.

“At this point, I’m the primary candidate,” she said. “I’m the one, I believe, that has the most qualification, the most experience.”

What's hilarious, though, is Kurtz's sentence after the Lightner quote:

"If she (Lightner) is the only one to file, the 2010 election will be Nov. 2."

Um, actually, Chuck, even if 20 people file, the 2010 election will still be November 2.

Moving away from that awful writing, while there was nothing particularly unfair to Lightner herself in the above quotes/description (who we support at this blog), what is just completely untrue is that she is the only candidate actually running. As Lightner herself mentions by saying "I'm the one..that has the most qualifications, the most experience...", there are actually two other candidates in the race -- John Rysavy and Daniel Gilyeat, both of whom have been campainging for several weeks. No mention at all. Not only is that disrespectful to Gilyeat, a man who has served his country with absolute bravery, it is an outright disservice to the readers of the Sun by not providing them information about two candidates, who at this point, appear that they are definitely running.

What's even worse though, is, that the rest of the article then covers a bunch of candidates who are either out of the race or appear unlikely to get in the race. Depsite it's headline of "Several candidates still eyeing the race", from the Sun's own reporting, "several" seems to mean only two -- Kevin Yoder, who appears to be backing away from the race given his quotes, and Pat Colloton. Both Jeff Colyer and Nick Jordan said they are NOT candidates.

What's even more bizarre is that the article gives several large quotes to moderates Yoder and Colloton, despite the fact they are not in the race and may never be, while only providing one to Lightner, who is in the race and has been aggressively campaigning for weeks, including appearaces on radio interviews, the airing of radio ads, appearances in several campaigns, and other significant campaign activity. One would think that the readers would like to know more about the candidates actually running.

Not only that, it provides more freaking ink to Bob Vancrum than actual candidates in the race. No offense to Vancrum, a former State Senator from the early 1990's, but what exactly qualfiies him to be an expert on the 3rd District race in 2010? Well, let's look to the article. He's a "political observer". Huh? Who isn't?

Finally, what's even more ridiculous about the article is that it devoted quite a bit of time to two candidates who are NOT running -- Colyer and Jordan -- than the one potentially signficant figure that is currently actively recruiting "Facebook groupies" to draft her to run -- radio host Darla Jaye.

So, if you're keeping at score at home, this article, which was apparently meant to inform readers about the current status of the 3rd District race, did the following:

- One small quote to someone actually in the race -- Patricia Lightner.
- Several paragraphs and quotes to two candidates who say they are not running -- Jeff Colyer and Nick Jordan.
- Several quotes to a guy from the early 90's no one has ever heard of because he's a "political observer".
- Several paragraphs and quotes to two candidates who may run but aren't in the race yet, depsite 3 months of rumors -- Kevin Yoder and Pat Colloton, who both appear to moving away from running.
- Absolutely zero space to two candidates in the race -- John Rysavy and Daniel Gilyeat.
- Absolutely zero space to the one potential candidate actually visibly considering running -- Darla Jaye.

Way to inform your readers there, Chuck. Did the Johnson County Sun fire its editors? One would think someone there would notice the vast holes in the article. Oh, well.

Thankfully, there were a couple interesting things to gain from reading it, if you read closely:

- Liberals Pat Colloton, Kevin Yoder and conservatives Nick Jordan and Jeff Colyer all agree on one thing -- Dennis Moore is too liberal. What we found amazing,however, is that there is actually room to the left of Pat Colloton. Who knew?

- The article subtly echoes the point we made in our post from a couple days ago -- "Patricia Lightner vs. ?". While all the background chatter continues, while all the ghosts continue to spook each other out of the race, there is still just one major candidate out there actually talking to voters -- Patricia Lightner.

And those two points are the ones Sun readers may want to take away from the article most of all.