Posts tagged “Kansas City Star”

Legendary local teacher retires after 44 years

Guy Malone in 1974. Photo: Guy Malone

Image: Guy Malone/Kansas City Star

Guy Malone in 1974.


Guy Malone is everything you’d expect from a man named “Guy” who has taught for 44 years in a public high school. He is gruff, but affable, and at least in my day he always had a filing cabinet full of pretzels that he was (somewhat) willing to share.

All three of the Lafferty kids (and one cousin) had the pleasure of taking Photography I, Photography II and Photography Independent Study from “Malone”, as he is known to all who set foot in his classroom, during our years attending Shawnee Mission South. His classes were always some of my favorites and the skills I learned continue to serve me to this day, much more so than the calculus I was learning down the hall. In a world of point-and-shoot still photography and videography, the knowledge of f-stops, apertures and white balancing separates the artists from the point-and-shoot riffraff.

Just last week I had a serious Malone flashback. I was visiting Bret Gustafson, photographer extraordinaire at JCCC, at the all-digital JCCC photography studio. When I walked in the room, it smelled of fixer. Anyone that has actually partaken of the art of photography knows the smell. It stays on you for days after developing film. If you spend too much time with it, you grow incredibly sick of the scent. But it had been years since it singed my nostrils; it was the scent of my youth returning to me. I mentioned the aroma to Bret who was shocked, saying, “I don’t smell anything. We haven’t used fixer in years!”

Poor Bret has gone nose-deaf to the odor.

That is the power of fixer, the essence of the art of photography. Even years later, entire studios continue to reek of the stuff. But Guy Malone still requires his students to use fixer. As the great Kansas City Star profile of Malone points out,

The kids need to understand how film works and the process, the printing. You can take a kid and a $5 or $6 roll of film and a $15 package of paper and be very creative for three or four weeks in a darkroom. They need that background before they go to digital.Guy Malone
Photography teacher, Shawnee Mission South High School

I couldn’t agree more. The lessons I learned in that darkroom, about photography and life, are irreplaceable.

The Star also quotes Malone’s former student, Irina Yakhnis, who, as my good narrative luck would have it, is also my former student from my days teaching journalism at The University of Kansas.

He was very nice, but not the kind who would just give compliments for everything you did. [Once when she handed in a photograph, he looked at it and said], “Yakhnis — good.” Just that one word meant everything.Irina Yakhnis
Shawnee Mission South class of 2005

Guy Malone is retiring this semester after 44 years of teaching. Photo: Kansas City Star

Image: Kansas City Star

Guy Malone is retiring this semester after 44 years of teaching.

Just like Ms. Yakhnis, I still remember the occasions when Malone said “good” to me. I can only imagine how rewarding it must be to have generations of students who look back fondly on a single word that you said to them.

Do I fall back to the easy path that is point-and-shoot photography? Yes, I do. Are my darkroom skills a bit rusty? Absolutely. I haven’t had access to a darkroom in many years.

But in a dark corner of my brain lurks the knowledge of how to mix up a batch of fixer, how to burn and dodge and how to manipulate layers without the use of Photoshop. I have Guy Malone to thank for that wisdom. That says nothing of the teaching style that I inevitably gleaned from him as well. Without the influence of Guy Malone, I wouldn’t be the multimedia journalist or interactive media professor that I am today.

Thanks for everything, Malone!

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Kansas City Star won’t wouldn’t publish same-sex wedding announcements

Edit: Good news! As I was adding the final polish to this piece, I saw the news over at BlogKC that the Kansas City Star now claims they will run same-sex announcements. A welcome change in policy, indeed.

The Kansas City Star recently refused to run the wedding announcement of a gay couple from Blue Springs, MO. The couple was married in Iowa, where same-sex marriage was legalized by the Iowa Supreme Court on April 3rd.

This decision by the Star is confusing for multiple reasons. Their rationale is that they are just following Missouri law. Hmmm…Missouri doesn’t have a law banning the announcement of same-sex marriages in other states. That would be a gross violation of the freedom of the press, or what some of us call a first amendment right. No, the Star is referring to the fact that Missouri does not recognize same-sex marriages and therefore neither does the Star (or the Independence Examiner, who also refused the announcement).

Mike and Chuck Hewitt discuss their controversial wedding announcement.

Image: Bottom Line Communications

Mike and Chuck Hewitt discuss their controversial wedding announcement.

Funny, because the Star had no problem discussing, and therefore announcing, the celebrity marriage of Ellen DeGeneres to Portia de Rossi in an article titled “Stargazing: A look back at ’08” back on December 30, 2008, or talking about the possibility of DeGeneres and de Rossi marrying at the Bush ranch in a piece called “Talkers: Will Bush say ‘yep’?” on May 25, 2008. Evidently announcing marriages of citizens in other states isn’t an issue, just local same-sex marriages. This bugs me on a 14th amendment level, obviously, but what is really puzzling about this decision has nothing to do with the small-mindedness of the Star’s classified editorial staff. It has to do with the stupid business sense of that same staff.

Please bear with me as I impart some of the wisdom I gathered in journalism school upon the Star staff. Someone wants to fill the classified pages of the Kansas City Star with something, anything, and you say no? Your paper is going the way of the dodo and you act in a way to avoid the extra handfuls of sales that the friends and family of these men would provide? You should be begging for sales, begging for anything that would help make one more payment on your giant glass monument to the days of yore. You are dinosaurs and you forget your place.

It remains unclear exactly why the Star wouldn’t run the announcement, since their stated reason is obvious malarkey. KMBC-TV was not afraid of this story and they deserve credit for that, even if they can’t figure out how to format video correctly for the web or let pithy bloggers like me embed said video. Watch the story, you’ll see what I mean on all counts.

Full disclosure: I was once an in utero member of the Kansas City Star classified staff.

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