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Is Kansas Free Press Relevant?

By Ken Poland
Opinion | December 20, 2011

two-men-talking-reading-newspaper.jpgCOLBY, Kan. - Kansas Free Press is a little more active than its mother media site, Everyday Citizen. The publisher's original intention, I believe, was to allow Kansans to put more local concerns and opinions up for discussion on this site.

I've been around a lot of years, all in Kansas, and I have been made aware of issues and events that I was not aware of, until I read it here. The comment section is certainly not limited to Kansans.

The comments, quite often, are much more detailed and revealing than the original articles. That is good. Most of us regular writers are hoping to get a dialogue going to help people become more involved in society's everyday happenings. Some visitors might think we, the writers, are all cheerleaders praising ourselves. But as you'll discover, we sometimes get into some pretty heated debates amongst ourselves.

I read all the entries and all the comments. I've not read a single one that didn't have merit and value. The least any can do is make me solidify my opinion or sometimes, even, change that opinion.

We've lost a few writers, who used to be regular contributors, for various reasons. But as I review I find an impressive list of skilled and interesting writers, who are now actively involved.

I'll start with me - a crusty, opinionated, old farmer who hibernates out north of Gem (little wide spot on the landscape without even a highway going by). I'm not the most skilled or educated of our writers. Wrote my first paper, that consisted of more than a hundred words, fifty seven years ago, sitting in a night class at Wichita University. Never got any college credit hours from it, due to the inefficiency of his Alma Mater's record keeping. (couldn't find my transcript). By the time they located it, I had determined formal education and degrees weren't that important to me. I did wind up with 5 adult education credits. Not a very impressive addition to anyone's resume. I've had a few regrets since, but who hasn't figured out they should have done some things differently in their lives? My debating skills were developed while growing up in a family that openly discussed their opinions with one another.

We learned early on to respect one another and the moderator of our forums, Mom and Dad. One of those siblings, I'll not name him here, had to have a little swat on the rear, now and then, from the moderator (razor strop sometimes) to keep him in line.

Then we come to my good friend, who resides in that wide spot along a national highway, Bogue. Bogue's a little wider than Gem. They've got a couple hundred residents and Gem would have to count dogs, cats, horses, and chickens to come up with a hundred. Now, I think Bob can hold his own, in writing skills, with the best of them. His skill at research is an envy for many of us. He's also had a lifetime of involvement in academics and community endeavors. He doesn't always know what he's talking about, but what's an old fossil like me know about it (grinning a little).

From there, I'm not that familiar with most of our writers. Alan Jilka, David Norlin, Margy Stewart, Diane Wahto, Christine Stein, Vickie Stangl and Kari Ann Rinker are the most active. We are privileged to read from a few others, now and then. Hearing from them more often would be nice. I'd like to hear from our editor a little more often.

We are definitely a diverse group of writers with widely different backgrounds and life experiences. Our contributions range from very serious to just points of interest. Some are skilled at keeping us abreast of historical spots of interest in Kansas. Some are aware of arts and humanity events, that we should all be interested in. Most of us lean a little (some bent sharply) to the left, when it comes to politics.

When it comes to the 'comment' section, we definitely have a diverse group. We don't always know where they live or what their station in life is. Sometimes they back us on our opinions and sometimes they challenge us with criticism. It is encouraging to know that we are reaching beyond our little circle and making others at least think about what they believe and why.

We might come from backward fly over country, but we've produced some quite notable nationally known people. Dwight Eisenhower, Walter P. Chrysler, Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna, Bob Dole, Rep. Gabby Giffords (mother graduated from Colby H.S.), Barak Obama, (mother from KS), Carrie Nation, Astronaut Virgil (Gus) Grissom, and many others are products of this flyover backward land of nothing. Those are just a few individuals that come to mind. We field a perrenially ranked college basket ball team, KU Jayhawks. (I was a 'so so' basket ball player and love the sport.) Many of us are the offspring of hardy, determined pioneers, who conquered nature and turned this area into the bread basket of the world and producers of the tastiest meat cuts you can find. Some of the most notable trails that connected the East with the West traversed across our prairies. We are the Golden Buckle that holds our nation together.

Sad to say, too many kids and adults spend their free time sitting in front of the 'boob tube' being entertained with frivolous make belief. Sports events take precedence over any real substance of real life happenings (local or around the world). Fifteen minute spot news casts are the limit for most folks. And those sources are selected carefully to keep us from getting any interpretation of events that might not fit our ideology.

I just got a chuckle in conversing with my wife. She exclaimed, anguishly, "They have upped our chances of snow for Thursday to 60%." I asked her what had happened to that little girl who used to plead for more snow. She was born in South Dakota and transplanted to Kansas, where she didn't think we had near enough snow. You don't suppose the difference between 7 years and 4 months and 70 years plus 4 more has changed her desires and priorities?

We have profiles that indicate we have writers ranging from their 20s to their 70s or 80s. That covers a lot of experience and each experience in unique. Every writer has something of value to say to the world. Some writers indicate they have changed their outlook on life, over time. Priorities have changed; politics have changed; economic conditions have changed; environment has changed; family relationships have changed. All these variables in our lives and others can be put in dialogue and help us all find common ground to face our tomorrows.

YES! Kansas Free Press is relevant.


7 Comments

You are right Ken. Very encouraging and just in time for some new year's resolutions. Thanks!


Of course, KFP is relevant, Ken. I think most people don't realize how difficult it is to come up with a blog a month, or two if one is writing for Everyday Citizen. I do hope more people will start submitting again.

On a personal note, I find it freeing to be able to develop an idea without the constraints of a word limit, as I have to adhere to when I send a letter to the Wichita Eagle.


I need to start submitting more stuff


I think there is no doubt that KFP is relevant. I try to check in regularly. So I know it is relevant to me. I don't comment as often as I should, and I don't believe that everyone hear posts as often as they could. But as Diane said it can be difficult to blog even once a month. At Wordpress they challenged people to post once a day or once a week during 2011. I didn't come close to pulling that off. In fact, lately I've been slacking badly. That challenge however did have me posting much more than I would have.

Ken, keep up the charge and challenge your fellow authors to do the same. Great post.


IS KFP relavant to the overall political structure and economics of Kansas? If you think of it as say the Kansas City Star or the Wichita Eagle in the way they go about endorsing political issues - no. There isnt the readership. But I think it serves as a good source of commentary and insight about different parts of the state.

I'll admit as a Johnson county resident I know almost nothing about what goes on anywhere outside the northeast corner of the state. Much the same I suspect as people from say Goodland or Colby Kansas know about Overland Park. Yet each of us, whether it be from a small town's like Bogue or Gem, bigger cities like Goodland or Wichita, or the states economic engines in Johnson County I think a little part of ourselves see THAT is what Kansas is. When in fact the state is all those places.

So lets mkeep sharing.


Ken, I appreciate your raising the question. I think all of us get frustrated that tools such as this aren't accessed as much by the general public, while we see them (and us) regularly misled by CFI (crap for information). I appreciate our editor's contribution of graphics and even youtube links to 'jazz up' our content.

As noted, its difficult to come up with content regularly. There's something to write about every day, even every minute. However, organizing something intelligent to say about it and have it worth reading is another challenge. Witness most newspapers' regular "official" editorials. When speaking ex cathedra, you don't want to put out bullshit.

Diane also has a point about the freedom of no word limit. Sometimes a key illustration just can't be included in 750 words.

I know a writer or two I'm going to re-encourage to write for KFP. There may also be more arrows in my quiver, later to deliver.

Which raises the point about whether a poetry section could be added to KFP. Thanks for the springboard and stimulation, just be4 the new year!


A powerful share, I simply given this onto a colleague who was doing somewhat analysis on this. And he in fact purchased me breakfast as a result of I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the deal with!
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