THE KANSAS CITY STAR COMPANY HISTORY
For more than 125 years, The Kansas City Star has chronicled Kansas City and crusaded for it, too. One of the most historically rich newspapers in America, The Star was the training ground for such celebrated writers and journalists as Ernest Hemingway and William Allen White, and the former employer of two presidents, Harry Truman and Theodore Roosevelt.
Founded by William Rockhill Nelson and Samuel E. Morss, The Kansas City Evening Star first appeared Sept. 18, 1880. Those first four-page copies were printed on a small flatbed press. Today, the newspaper’s presses are ranked among the best in the world, housed inside a spectacular glass and copper building that overlooks Kansas City’s downtown renaissance. Its print readership, combined with a massive online audience at KansasCity.com, makes The Star the region’s dominant provider of news, information and advertising.
Through the years, The Kansas City Star has championed the growth of Kansas City, from cow town to boomtown to Midwestern metropolis. Nelson quickly rose to sole ownership and began crusades for civic parks and stately boulevards, public health improvements and clean government initiatives that continue to this day.
In the late 1920s, The Star was sold to employees and most of the proceeds were used to create a new art collection for the city. Employee ownership lasted until 1977, when the newspaper was purchased by Capital Cities Communications. In 1996, Capital Cities was bought by the Walt Disney Co. One year later, Disney sold The Star and other newspapers to Knight Ridder, which itself was sold to The McClatchy Company in 2006.
The Star’s historic brick structure at 18th Street and Grand Boulevard was built by the newspaper in 1911 and was at the time the largest newspaper building in America. Upon arriving at the paper as a cub reporter in 1917, Ernest Hemingway was introduced to the newsroom’s famous style sheet, which advocated simple, vigorous prose. The guidelines “were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing. I’ve never forgotten them,” he later said.
The building, the sixth occupied by the newspaper, houses news, advertising and accounting departments. In 2006, The Star opened its state-of-the-art Press Pavilion, which covers two city blocks immediately northeast of its headquarters building. The Pavilion houses production, packaging and distribution operations.
Throughout its history The Star has embraced innovation, eagerly exploring new ideas, new technology and new ways to reach readers and distribute advertising. Nelson introduced a weekly farm edition that was read across much of America, including parts of Oklahoma before it became a state. The Star began operating radio station WDAF in 1922 and launched the WDAF television station in 1949, before divesting both properties in the 1950s.
KansasCity.com, The Star’s award-winning Web site, is the region’s No. 1 online source for news and advertising, and routinely ranks among industry leaders in both growth and innovation. The site has helped The Star transition into a true multimedia company, with interactive features including blogs, videos, polls, slideshows and mobile applications.
The company also publishes some of the most targeted and best-read magazines in the area, including Ink, Kansas City Spaces and KC Weddings. It produces Bridal Spectacular, one of the largest bridal shows in the Midwest.
The Star also owns and operates several suburban newspapers: the Olathe News, Lee’s Summit Journal, Cass County Democrat-Missourian and Belton Star-Herald. Exploiting its world-class presses, the company operates a robust commercial print operation, publishing dozens of other publications, including The Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper’s long tradition of exceptional journalism has resulted in multiple awards and honors, including eight Pulitzer Prizes; four George Polk awards; the $25,000 Goldsmith prize for investigative reporting; several National Headliner awards; numerous awards from the Society of News Design; an EPPY Award for best online news blog; multiple APSE “Triple Crown” citations for best sports section in the country; and multiple national awards for coverage of women, minorities and gay and lesbian issues. In recent years The Star also has been nationally recognized for its design, features section, food section, travel section, column writing and business, political and investigative coverage.
The Star not only covers the community, but actively supports several major initiatives, including the United Way and Project Warmth, an annual coat and blanket drive focused on making winter months more livable in Kansas City for the working poor. The newspaper also sponsors Greater Kansas City Day, an annual event held on the Kansas City Royals’ opening day in partnership with area Rotary Clubs, and Hooked on Books, a partnership with the Junior League of Kansas City that has distributed more than 700,000 books to area school children. The newsroom also created the Coda Jazz Fund, which has raised more than $150,000 for the funeral and burial expenses of destitute jazz musicians in Kansas City.
In its crusades, coverage and causes, The Kansas City Star continues to remain, in the words of William Rockhill Nelson, “A paper for the people.”