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SPOTLIGHT
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Jack Krier's version of journalism

Published on -6/14/2012, 9:01 AM

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Look, we're not only entitled to have opinions; we've got 'em. And we're free to put 'em out there and live with the consequences. Good or bad. That's America. But I have some problems with Jack Krier's version of journalism. Krier heads up Main Street Media Inc., which now owns 26 small town newspapers -- 13 in Missouri, four in Nebraska, nine in Kansas.

In Kansas, Krier's corporation owns papers in Phillipsburg, Smith Center, Lebanon, Downs, Cawker City, Osborne, Plainville, Ellis and Russell.

I'm not a subscriber to the Plainville Times, one of Krier's papers, but my regular correspondent Don Desbien of Palco is. Don, unfailingly polite, frequently sends Krier's opinion page my way -- "liberally" underlined and circled in red ballpoint to highlight what Don thinks is great stuff. Neither Don nor Krier like President Obama, putting it mildly. That's obvious to anyone who reads Krier's opinion page. OK, like I say, we're all entitled to our opinions.

But Krier crossed the line and deserves an inky metaphorical kick in the seat of his metaphorical pants for what the Plainville Times and any sister papers carried on May 31 -- a boxed editorial entitled "An Impressive List."

The impressive list was copied nearly word for word without attribution (a big word that means Krier didn't say from where he copied it). That alone is lousy journalism by most standards. It should get a kid lectured in a decent high school English class and a fat "F" for swiping somebody else's work. In a high school newspaper, it would be worse.

As it turns out, the list came from an email making the Internet rounds last fall, "Barack Obama's 32 month report card," authored by a person or persons claiming the name Rich Carroll. Krier's unattributed editorial copied 24 of the 36 unflattering "firsts" for President Obama -- and offered them as fact. A 25th "first" was added.

My curiosity led me initially to Politifact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative project at the Tampa Bay Times. They had taken a quick look, but given the deluge of such email crap, had so far taken time to investigate in detail only the claim that Obama was "the first president to terminate America's ability to put a man in space." Politifact found that a "pants on fire lie." You can judge for yourself at tinyurl.com/6y9s4a5.

A Politifact staffer told me, "There are a whole lot of inaccuracies and half-truths on the list, but we only had the manpower to check one of the many claims on the list."

At the investigative site Truth or Fiction, time was also a factor and a complete investigation is still pending. However, of the 25 claims made in Jack Krier's editorial they found three to be true, nine fiction, two inaccurate, three vague, one disputed, six still being investigated. That's 24. All were lifted from the email by "Rich Carroll" circulating last fall. You may read investigative detail at Truth or Fiction's website, tinyurl.com/7wnjwsj.

But the 25th "first" is one that Carroll didn't write. In the editorial on Jack Krier's opinion page, somebody has added this: "First president to blatantly race-bait and promote class warfare at every possible opportunity." I did the usual Google search for that phrasing and couldn't get a match anywhere else. Well, maybe Mr. Krier himself can take credit, if that's what you'd call it.

Mr. Krier lives in Russell, where Main Street Media owns the Russell County News. I called and asked a staffer: "Did the 'Impressive List' editorial run in your paper?"

"Yes," she said.

"Does Mr. Krier's opinion page usually go to others in the chain?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "It goes to all our sister papers."

How many of them print his "One Man's Opinion" and editorials, I don't know. My guess is quite a few, since he's the president of Main Street Media.

The lady said I could write or call Mr. Krier. He was always willing to listen, she said. That's good. Maybe he is willing to read, too. Jack could brush up on Journalism 101.

His readers deserve better. That's my opinion.

Bob Hooper is a fourth-generation western Kansan who writes from his home in Bogue.

celtic@ruraltel.net

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