C.W. Gusewell

THE KANSAS CITY STAR

Celebrated journalist to speak Wednesday in KC

During my half-century association with The Star, this newspaper has produced a distinguished list of alumni – journalists who, after their service here, went on to achieve notable success as writers and editors in many parts of the country.

Among them, to name only a few: David Zeeck, president and publisher of The Tacoma News Tribune in Washington; Mike Waller, publisher of The Baltimore Sun, now retired; and the late Chuck Powers, a wonderfully gifted writer, once characterized by his colleagues as the “Byron” of the Los Angeles Times.

Many others deserve mention.

But at the very top of the list, without question, is James B. Steele, who will be at the Kansas City Public Library’s Central Library at 14 W. 10th St. this Wednesday evening to speak about his latest book, “The Betrayal of the American Dream,” the product of three years of research and writing.

Jim is a native Kansas Citian and a graduate of Westport High School and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He began his career in 1961 as a copyboy in the newsroom of The Kansas City Times, The Star’s morning paper, and was promoted to reporter the next spring.

It was during his early years, covering local disputes and controversy, that his passion for issues reporting was sparked.

Jim joined The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1970, and in 1971 began a 40-year collaboration with his writing partner and co-author, Donald L. Barlett.

Together they have won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Magazine Awards and six George Polk Awards for excellence in journalism.

Their 1991 nine-part newspaper series for the Inquirer was expanded a year later into the book “America: What Went Wrong?” examining the combination of greed, deregulation and misguided governance whose eventual consequence would be the country’s present economic and social distress.

Their new book, “The Betrayal of the American Dream,” the subject of Steele’s Wednesday presentation, has received enthusiastic favorable notice from critics.

In the prologue, the authors describe their book as “the story of how a small number of people in power have deliberately put in place policies that have enriched themselves while cutting the ground out from under America’s greatest asset – the middle class.”

Admission to the 6:30 p.m. presentation at the Central Library by this much-honored native son is free to the public. Advance reservations are requested. A reception at 6 p.m. will precede the talk.