Kevin Kietzman, The Kansas City Star, And KC Sports Journalism


Jul 30, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Miguel Tejada (24) looks on during batting practice before a game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Tejada was on Adderall while he was with the Kansas City Royals.

How long was Tejada using Adderall? Was he cleared by MLB to be on the drug? Both are questions that are still in doubt. If you were to ask Kevin Kietzman what’s going on with Tejada, he’d essentially tell you Tejada has been on the equivalent of cocaine for the last four months.

Here’s what he wrote this morning about the subject of Tejada and Adderall.

"Tejada had an exemption to use Adderall, a powerful ADD/ADHD brain stimulant doctors have likened to cocaine, but his exemption expired April 15 of this season.…The whole thing is a sham.  There’s an Adderall epidemic in sports and I believe this is worse than HGH or steroids or any of the things baseball considers a PED."

Kietzman took to the airwaves yesterday afternoon to report to his listeners that Tejada was on Adderall, and there was more to his movement to the 60-day disabled list than just an injury. Kietzman did not cite any sources or publish any documents as to prove Tejada was using Adderall, or that Tejada had an expired exemption. He simply went on the radio, said he had “sources”, and then said Tejada was using drugs. He wouldn’t even confirm whether or not Tejada had failed a test, nor would he say if Tejada had even been tested.

After his story didn’t grow legs within the Kansas City and national media, Kietzman took to Twitter to go on the following rant:

Meanwhile… Earlier in the morning, before Kietzman went on his Twitter rant, someone asked Bob Dutton about Tejada and the potential failed drug test. Here’s what he tweeted:

To sum up, here’s what we have:

– Kietzman says Tejada was on Adderall (but won’t report Tejada was using during the season, only implying that he was using).

– Nobody else is reporting this story. Not yet, anyway.

– Dutton is clearly aware of the story but doesn’t have any useful information to report.

– Kietzman is mad at the Kansas City Star for not reporting his story.

There are three things to keep in mind here about how this story.

One, Kietzman didn’t report anything. He skillfully speculated that Miguel Tejada used a drug he wasn’t allowed to use. He has bits and pieces of information (i.e. Tejada had an exemption for Adderall that expired) but doesn’t have all the necessary pieces to have a complete, factual story. There is no failed test, no document of his exemption expiring, no named sources confirming his story. To get by with this, he is framing the story around the potential that high school kids may use this drug without their parent’s knowledge in order to perform better in sports.

There may very well be a story here – Dutton appears to be on it in some capacity based on his tweets – but what Kietzman is doing to not journalism.

What he is doing is the media version of a bait and switch: He’s saying something about Tejada (which may or may not be true) so that he can talk about an issue that wouldn’t exist otherwise. It’s actually kind of brilliant in terms of trying to get listeners, but not so great if you listen to 810 looking for factual information.

Two, the Kansas City Star has boatloads of problems, but Bob Dutton isn’t one them.

The idea that Bob Dutton and Jeff Rosen – the Sports Editor for The Star – are the problem and reason why the paper is failing, is simply false. Dutton played the story exactly how a true journalist should – by not reporting things until the facts are known.

If being a journalist is truly what Kietzman wants to be, then he could stand to take a few notes from Dutton on how to handle a story.

Finally, Kansas City sports fans are in a tough place when it comes to getting news and information about their hometown sports teams.

Here is where Kietzman is right: The Star is dying.

Kietzman is right that Dutton is essentially the only full-time guy on the Royals beat. Sometimes Tod Palmer or Rustin Dodd will take over for Dutton when he has a day off, but for the most part everything begins and ends with Dutton.

Sam Mellinger will write about the Royals, too, but he is also responsible to write about anything that is Kansas City sports related. He is not embedded in the same way as Dutton is with the Royals.

Pete Grathoff will also write about the Royals but he is not a reporter. The Star’s website says he is a “blogger” (I wonder if he lives in his mother’s basement?) but his main function is to help put the sports section together by laying out pages, copy editing, and copy writing. His Royals coverage – to my understanding – is on his own. That means everything you read of his exists because he’s just awesome and wants Star readers to be informed.

That’s basically it for the Royals. The same can be said for the Chiefs, except they have an extra writer in Randy Covitz. Other than that… that’s it for the Chiefs.

The Star’s issue is purely business related. The people in charge – the one’s who make the business decisions – have gotten away from the “product” that is the newspaper and are focusing on adding unnecessary things. The fact we get to read a “Sports Section” anymore is remarkable when you consider how understaffed the Sports department is at the moment.

From a reporting standpoint, the Star has just Dutton (Royals), Covitz (Chiefs/NASCAR), Adam Teicher (Chiefs), Dodd (KU/Royals), Palmer (High School/Royals/Sporting KC), Terez Paylor (MU), Kellis Robinett (K-State)… and that’s it.*

They also have Mellinger, Vahe Gregorian, and Blair Kerkhoff who do a combination of commentary and reporting.

Tom Ibarra, an Assistant Sports Editor by title, will also write on high school sports.

That makes 10 full-time reporters, three columnists, and an assistant editor who splits his time between administrative and reporting duties writing for The Star’s sports section right now. In comparison, the Omaha World-Herald has 17 reporters and a columnist. That’s right, they have more full-time people covering High School sports than The Star has covering the Chiefs and Royals combined.

Instead of improving the content of the paper, The Star is doing the opposite by handing out mandatory furloughs, buying out contracts, and hiring people part-time (and then pushing that status to the limit) to help cut costs.

Dutton simply cannot handle breaking news about trades, roster moves, Mike Moustakas’ injury, game reports, travel, crazy people on Twitter, and the Tejada thing by himself at the current rate of speed that readers demand information. The fact he does most of those things now is simply remarkable.

All of this is to say that The Star is massively understaffed and cannot provide the sort of in-depth journalism Kietzman was looking for when he opened his version of The Star this morning.

Unless The Star turns itself around, the future of Kansas City sports reporting is going to look a lot like Kietzman’s attempt at being a journalist.

So, please, subscribe to The Star today so we don’t have to suffer that fate.



*Sam McDowell should have been on this list as well. He covers high school and FC Kansas City, and also helps out with the Royals and Chiefs.