Monday, December 15, 2008

Kansas City Star subscribers still funding "sweetheart deal" between publisher and his columnist wife

Readers of this blog are familiar with the "sweetheart deal" set up so the KC Star can run the weekly columns by Rhonda Chriss Lokeman, who just happens to be married to the Kansas City Star publisher, Mark Zieman.

The special arrangement was set up earlier this year, after Zieman became publisher. A long-term columnist with the KC Star, Lokeman signed up with Creators Syndicate, and the Star contracted with Creators Syndicate to run Lokeman's column. This was a sham move to avoid nepotism rules. You could say it's a technicality that meets the letter, not the spirit, of the law.

How much longer will Kansas City Star subscribers continue subsidizing the column written by the publisher's wife? Every time somebody plops down 2 quarters for a copy of the KC Star they are subsidizing Zieman's shady deal.

In public Zieman claims to have no influence over the column. He says Miriam Pepper, editorial page editor, makes the call on whether the Star keeps the column. But that defies common sense because Zieman signs her paycheck.

And it's not like there is a demand for Lokeman's columns -- as I showed here, a small newspaper in Texas dropped her earlier this year after a short stint.

The publisher at the Texas paper was able to evaluate Lokeman's column on the merits, not her marriage to the big guy.

The KC Star doesn't have the luxury of evaluating her columns on the merits.

The result? KC Star subscribers are funding a Texas reject columnist, when there are plenty of columnists out there who are more talented and more interesting.

By the way, subscribers funded another Lokeman column over the weekend. And she didn't even say "thanks."


Anonymous said...

Crunching the numbers from the Media Matters Lokeman syndication list. Search of current and archived articles.

MM Syndication Circulation-(Yeah right)
473,752 for seven papers

Actually found -
296,052 for two papers

Minus KS Star nepotism -
- 276,203
Un-grand total for one New(?)Account, Complaint about crudeness already

“favoritism shown to relatives: favoritism shown by somebody in power to relatives and friends, especially in appointing them to good positions”
Yep, still means the same, corruption.

Anonymous said...

I'm here to tell you now that the KC Star doesn't have anywhere near a 276,000 circulation. Much closer is between 215 and 230,000. I still know a few people in the right places. I will see if I can get an updated and ACCURATE count in the next few days.

Anonymous said...

You mean that they might be lying? I know how your can find out, call that jerk Derek Donovan the reader's rep.

Anonymous said...

They just released November revenues. Not good for such a pretty building.

Anonymous said...

...If McClatchy weren't a pack of liars and schemers themselves, they wouldn't allow this corruption of THEIR work rules with a nod and a wink. I think if you look farther into it, what Lokeman-Ziemer are doing isn't illegal, it's "just" unethical. And unethical behaviour is McClatchy's bread and butter. In a business that sells information based on trust, McClatchy has sold their reputation to further their social and political agenda. They sold out " Truth for Power "; now they have neither.
..How's that working out for them, lately ?

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know if inflated syndication numbers influences the pay-per-print amount a columnist can command. The Media Matters list may not be the official numbers, but it certainly indicated that the numbers used were far from current.

It is also apparent that the KC Scar is the anchor newspaper that gives the only credibility the little Mrs. has. IMO, The Z-man is lining his family pockets with this underhanded, perhaps unethical deal. Shark needs to register to vote in yet another place, try Siberia.

Anonymous said...

Don't bother contacting Derek Donovan, he's just a hack hired to push the company line whenever anyone complains.

My a@@ he's a reader's representative.