Tuesday, December 30, 2008

the boss's wife

When I was at the Pitch, we used to read Rhonda Chriss Lokeman's columns out loud to one another and laugh. We couldn't believe that a major paper give one of its top Sunday op-ed column spot to such a bad writer.

But then, she was the editor's wife.

Now she's the publisher's wife, and the two are doing cartwheels to prove she doesn't work for the paper anymore, even though her column still runs in the same spot every week.

As with most newspapers, the Star claims that it's opinion side is separate from its news side. So when Lokeman's husband, Mark Zieman, was editor, there was supposedly no conflict. But when he became publisher he also became boss of the opinion staff. As a result, Lokeman says, "I left behind a good salary at The Star in order to remain ethical, avoid any conflicts which might arise from my provocative writing style and subjects." Now she's supposedly a syndicated columnist, though neither she nor her syndicate will say what papers, besides the Star, carry her column.

But wait a minute. The Star announced Zieman as its new publisher on March 6. Then, on April 13, Lokeman filed a blistering screed about Kansas City's mayor. Not a column like the stories that ran in the Wall Street Journal and Associated Press recently, one intended for a national audience that's unfamiliar with the ins and outs here. This was a locals-only column about a state investigation of Funk's campaign finances.

Maybe that's why she doesn't have many national customers -- too local on her debut.

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