The big question floating around the Kansas City Star these days is whether the sports columnist position vacated by Kent Babb in September will be filled.
And, according to Star Sports Editor Jeff Rosen, the answer is an emphatic, “Yes.”
“Yes. We see this as a critical area of need,” Rosen told Bottom Line exclusively. “Sam’s (sports columnist Sam Mellinger) is doing a wonderful job, but there’s ample ground to cover in our region, and it’s not fair to him, or our readers — or our aim to drive sports conversation in this town — to ask him to go it alone much longer.”
Rosen says he wants to make sure the McClatchy-owned paper makes the right hire.
“That said, we’re being very deliberate in our review of candidates,” he says. “This type of opening, at a news organization with the kind of reputation The Star has built over the years, doesn’t come along very often.
“We’re committed to making the hire, but just as importantly, to making the right hire,” he adds.
Babb, who had been a sportswriter at the Star for five years and had won numerous journalism awards, was named to the prestigious sports columnist position in June. However, just three months later he stunned everyone when it was announced he was leaving to take a sports enterprise (longer-form features) writer position with the Washington Post. He started there October 1.
The Star has a proud tradition of notable sports columnists dating back to legend Joe McGuff and its columnists have won numerous national “Sportswriters of the Year” awards. More recently the newspaper featured the solid one-two punch of Jason Whitlock and Joe Posnanski with Posnanski departing the paper in 2009 and Whitlock a year later after 16 years to join Fox Sports.
Mellinger was promoted into the sports columnist spot to replace Posnanski in March 2010.
Rosen joined the Star in Dec. 2010 after six years with the Houston Chronicle. He replaced Holly Lawton as sports editor.