Wednesday, June 21, 2006

No one lowers the bar better than the Kansas City Star

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2006 at 10:44 AM

I don't often comment on the actions of our cross-Crossroads rivals at the Kansas City Star because I have little reason to. "Pop critic" Tim Finn does a good job bringing national music to his readers, and he and his freelancers often help boost awareness of some local goings-on. I mean, it's nowhere near as comprehensive, in-depth or dead-sexy as our music section at the Pitch, but I gotta give Finn & co. props for catching onto good things now and then. Hell, he even started a blog. Good for him — I mean, I wouldn't want to be in the guy's shoes, getting schooled by us now in two arenas. But it's not Finn I'm worried about.

You see, it seems the Star has lost its only local hip-hop writer. Now that she has to maintain a bi-weekly FYI column in addition to her "Scenario" column in the Preview section, Jenee Osterheldt surely has no time to write about her favorite segment of the KC-Lawrence music scene. Since late April, she's written only two columns that are at all hip-hop related, and both were on DJ club events (here and here). It's not that she ever really wrote that regularly about hip-hop, but considering her involvement in the scene, I would hope the Star would allow her to remain an advocate for coverage of it.

But the Star seems to feel it's more important for Jenee to be writing VAPID and INANE columns about her own life. Her most recent column, for example, is nothing but a lame rumination on all the places she might like to go for vacation this summer. I swear to God, as I read it, my brain cells died horrible, wailing deaths. I became a complete, drooling moron for fifteen minutes, during which my managing editor tossed a beach ball back and forth with me so I wouldn't run around rubbing my poo on the wall. It's not just that she's a mediocre writer, it's that her columns, when they're like this one, don't give a single shred of information useful to anyone on the planet, much less in Kansas City. I hate to say such things about someone I've met — someone who is a very, very nice person who has always been very, very nice to me and everyone I know. But damn it, her columns suck! Make them stop!

I can't figure out why the Star thinks it's so worthwhile to encourage Jenee to talk about taking her dog to training school and suggesting places to neck with somebody. I have no doubt there are some people in this city who enjoy that cutesy Sex-and-the-City-lite bullshit, but let's get serious. To make ideas like that into entertaining reading, you've got to be an entertaining writer, and that, Jenee is not. It's clear that the Star is using her image — that of a young, beautiful, African-American woman — to make the paper itself look younger and sexier (cf. the print version's overhaul). It's a hollow pursuit.

If I were that paper's editor and felt that the Star absolutely had to have a lovelorn Carrie Bradshaw, then I'd find someone who could pull it off. Then, I'd put Jenee in charge of local hip-hop coverage. And if her articles weren't up to snuff, I'd find somebody else to fill the position -- for which, by the way, good looks would not be a prerequisite.

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