A 2007 graduate of UMKC and a former school teacher, Andrew Palmer has shown that you do not need to inherit a Hearst-size fortune today to start your own publication. Launched in June 2015, TheNorthlandNews is a hyperlocal news site covering government, sports, events, and business in Clay County, Missouri. Andrew was kind enough to take the time to answer the Sentinel’s 20 Questions.
What kind of news do you cover?
I tend to focus my actual coverage on Clay County. The bulk of my active reporting has focused on the Clay County Commission. TheNorthlandNews.com also publishes lots of press releases that come from various sources that try to inform people on what’s going on in their local community and state.
Can you make a living at it?
I certainly hope to. I currently have a real job with an employer that’s really supportive of the endeavor.
How many hours a week do you put in?
I do my best to still be a present father, husband, and stay healthy while I try to get this thing off the ground. I’m putting in about 50-60 hours a week total between all my responsibilities.
Does it trouble Clay Countians that their most celebrated native son was a serial killer?
Heh… I find the fact that people up here celebrate Jesse James a little bit embarrassing and strange. It should trouble people, but it doesn’t seem to. But, hey, we elected a President that once attended Jeremiah Wright’s church and was friends with Bill Ayers, why not, right?
Why is Clay County so much better than Platte County?
Eh…I don’t know that it is. We’re definitely larger by population, but Platte County has a lot going for it, too. I hope TheNorthlandNews.com can grow to focus on the both counties in its future.
Can a political person like yourself run an apolitical news service?
I hate this question, not so much because you asked it, but because of the common conception people have about news and the concept of bias. If you examine the etymology of the word, bias had nothing to do with dishonesty. It’s first English usage simply meant predisposition or prejudice. Today, most Americans see the term as having something to do with dishonesty and a lack of fairness.
I’m going to shock our dear readers of this interview, all human beings are biased, meaning prejudiced. Escaping our biases and being completely objective is one of the most challenging intellectual exercises we undertake. Humans are tribal and we tend to gravitate toward the tribe that feeds us the information we want to hear.
There are two sides of a news source. There’s the news coverage and then there’s the editorial side. All editors are political, it’s self-deception to believe otherwise. The thing that has always frustrated me is that many in the media parade around claiming to be these paragons of integrity and objectivity when the bulk of the American people see through it.
What is the biggest story you’ve broken?
The biggest trafficked article on the site was actually a recent editorial I wrote about high school football coaches salaries here in the Northland. I got wind of a big coaching change and decided to approach it from more of an editorial approach. I’m a former public educator, and it was always a topic that frustrated me. I guess I was the first to “report” the change online, but it wasn’t a news report.
The second biggest story on the site was the announcement of the Northland Costco. Not kidding, but people went bonkers over that story.
What annoys you most about Clay County politics?
I guess I’m amazed at the lack of leadership in the County. I have chronicled the problems on the Clay County Commission over the last year and a half. Every week I go down there I think, oh, it can’t get any worse, but true to form, it gets worse. This year has been a comedy of epic proportions.
Does the Northland News have a position on KC’s GO Bonds?
Since I’m pretty much The Northland News, yes. For decades political leaders have done a terrible job at prioritizing infrastructure and basic needs in Kansas City. But, I hear there’s a really cool toy train that just opened and a convention hotel coming. Please, please, please don’t worry that Moody’s just downgraded the City’s bond rating.
Let me pause and take a lick of my yummy lollipop….So, right now, if I was a Kansas City citizen I’d vote the GO Bond down and hope like crazy we don’t go through another 08.
Does the Northland News have a position on a KCI single terminal?
I’ll be honest, I need to know more about this issue. I like KCI as it’s currently constructed.
In your lifetime who is your favorite Missouri politician?
I’ve been impressed with Governor Greitens so far. I don’t always agree with him, but I’ve met him a couple of times and he seems to be genuine, which means I’m just waiting to be disappointed. I hope I’m proven wrong.
Who is your least favorite?
Wait, I have to list just one? The two I can’t stand the most right now are our US Senators. Claire McCaskill is such a fraud, but she does well playing to her base and presenting herself well to moderates. I have a hard time believing she actually has a principled bone in her body. I’ve never been a Roy Blunt fan either. He’s terrible on Liberty issues, and is a huge proponent of the war machine. They both need to go.
What is the most memorable book you have read in the last year or two?
I’m currently listening to the audiobook version of The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. It’s by Douglas Abrams and it’s about a meeting between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Dharamsala. There’s some collectivist nonsense in it occasionally, but the core of the message is interesting and stretches my thinking.Other books from the last couple years I highly recommend: We Kill Because We Can: From Soldiering to Assassination in the Drone Age by Laurie Calhoun: Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World by Peter Diamandis: The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley.
Will MU ever recover from 2015 meltdown?
I’m not sure. College itself is headed towards a real problem in our society. I think the American people are starting to question it’s value. You have this problem for MU from 2015, and then you have the State Auditor’s audit from last week. Any parent should think deeply before sending their child off to a school like MU, or any college for that matter. Many of them are far from institutions of “higher learning” anymore. Hopefully that didn’t trigger too many into their safe space…
Should the school have left the Big 12?
I could care less. I hate college sports. They’ve become a subsidized farm system for the NBA and NFL. Meanwhile college tuition keeps rising, the value of the degree keeps falling, and more kids are going into debt to pay for it all.
Why is Missouri a better state than Kansas?
Honestly, I’m not sure that it is or isn’t. I’ve lived here all my life. It’s a beautiful state in many ways, but it also has a lot of opportunities. We have two of the most violent cities in the country right here. That’s not exactly something to be proud of. Job creation has been terrible for years here, and the state government is a joke at times.
What TV series would you recommend a friend binge watch?
I don’t watch much TV and tend to only see shows after they’re out for a season or two. Having said that, I’m really liking the new 24 with Corey Hawkins. I was a big fan of The Walking Dead up until this season when they completely ruined it. Homeland is another one I’ve always liked.
Do you think KC takes the Northland seriously?
No, but I think it probably ought to start doing it. There’s a lot of great things happening up here and it’s going to matter a lot in the coming years.
What quiet Clay County attraction should area residents be sure to visit?
North Kansas City and Gladstone are two interesting stories that I’d like to tell more about. Two little cities stuck right in the middle of Kansas City. There’s no earnings tax there and they’re really doing some interesting things to improve and grow.
What inspired you to launch the Northland News?
I’ve been a political and news junkie since I was a kid. I hate the news, especially the local news. I find they focus on all the wrong things and work extra hard at feeding people a steady diet of death, destruction, and pessimism. You look at the actual statistics on life and the world today, and by almost every measure, things are improving. Meanwhile, there are numerous local stories that go untold. Good people doing great things in their neighborhood every day of the week.