It’s generally not the kind of thing you read from a former Faith columnist for 36 years.
But the Kansas City Star’s long-time Faith columnist Bill Tammeus unloaded on the newspaper industry on his blog (1/12) as first reported by Kansas City’s most-read blogger Tony Botello at tonyskansascity.com.
The recent firing of his friend, Dave Lieber, at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after 20 years seemed to be in the impetus for Tammeus’s rant. (The Telegram and KC Star are both owned by McClatchy Corporation.)
“But now he’s become one more bit of collateral damage caused by the monumental failure of newspaper leaders across the country to anticipate change and be ready for the technology they now blame for their troubles,” wrote Tammeus. “This failure causes newspapers around the country (The Kansas City Star just lost another 17 good employees) to trim their staffs and do other budget-cutting moves to remain profitable and survive.”
While not specifically discussing the ills of major corporate ownership of newspapers by McClachy, Gannett and others, Tammeus railed on how slowly newspapers were able to adapt to technological changes.
“My own experience at The Star, where I was a full-time employee for about 36 years, told me that at almost every juncture, newspaper editors and their business managers sought to make necessary and inevitable changes slowly and cheaply,” he notes.
Tammeus also bemoans the lack of coverage by newspapers of issues of religion and ethics, and the departure of the Star’s venerable Religion Editor Helen Gray (LINK
“Among the people who have been burned by the failure of newspapers to adapt to technology are readers who care about matters of religion and ethics,” he says. “Those areas traditionally have been inadequately covered by media everywhere but now it’s getting worse. At The Star
, for instance, Helen Gray, who has been religion editor since The Flood, just retired
a few days ago. No one has been named to replace her, though one of the news editors will oversee production of the weekly Faith section.”
What has happened to the Faith Section of the Star with Gray’s departure? Benedictine College’s stalwart journalism professor Mike Throop posted his views on his Facebook page today.
“Memo: From The Kansas City Star
To: Faith-based readers.. Drop dead.
As I predicted, save for a couple of “guest” columns, the entire”section” is wire copy.”