Flatland Favorites: Editor’s Edition

From curiousKC to ‘I’m Your Neighbor’ to teens asking tough questions, I love my new job

Kansas City mayoral candidates in the auditorium at East High School The crowded field of Kansas City, Missouri, mayoral candidates gathered at East High School on Wednesday for a student-led debate. (Craig Smith | Flatland)

I haven’t been the digital managing editor at Kansas City PBS for very long, but there’s a reason why I pursued this job. I’m at home in the heartland. It’s where I’m from. People understand me here. Below are my favorite stories from Flatland in 2018 that reflect my love of America’s #flatland, keeping in mind that an editor can never say they have a favorite child. Here’s to many more years of Flatland and Kansas City PBS serving this community with pride, no matter what new digital technology arrives. In public media, it’s the same mission.

Candidates to Replace Sly James Compete for Likes
We expect candidates for public office to face tough questions from reporters. We expect it so much that it can quickly become predictable political coverage that lacks meaning and substance. What I liked most about this debate is that the questions for Kansas City mayoral candidates were researched and asked by students from East High School. It’s one thing for a political candidate to weather hostile questions from journalists. It’s another thing for a political candidate to have to look a young person in the eyes and take a substantive position on police brutality and #blacklivesmatter.

I’m Your Neighbor: Susan
This video delighted me to no end before I officially started the job of managing editor. It’s not just a great video for the short attention span of the digital age. It’s a wonderful little story about the heartland of America packed into 60 seconds. And there is a twist right at the end that you will love. Promise. I look forward to a lot more Susans in 2019.

Court Experience Exposes Anti-Islam Sham
It’s not common among news organizations to have a “faith beat.” But I graduated from the journalism program at the University of Kansas in the early 2000s just as daily newspapers in the Midwest were launching faith beats and trying to do a better job of covering the potent power of religious conviction. Our faith columnist, Bill Tammeus, comes from that generation of heartland journalists who wanted to improve faith coverage but do so with facts and without judgment.

Here’s What Trump Missed About Violent Crime in Kansas City
I commissioned this story from longtime columnist and Kansas City Star reporter Mary Sanchez, not because Trump’s visit ahead of the story was a matter of real significance, but because I knew it was an opportunity for Flatland to talk about violent crime in Kansas City. She and I were already having conversations about successful methods coming out of think tanks like the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York for driving down street violence in major metros. As she shows here, we can’t jail our way out of violent crime.

See you in 2019, Kansas City.

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