Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone serves as Kansas Reflector's opinion editor. His columns have been published in the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, along with newspapers and websites across the state and nation. He has written and edited for newsrooms in Kansas, New Hampshire, Florida and Pennsylvania. He has also fact checked politicians, researched for Larry the Cable Guy, and appeared in PolitiFact, Mental Floss, and Before joining the Reflector in summer 2021, Clay spent four years at the nonprofit Kansas Action for Children as communications director. Beyond the written word, he has drawn cartoons, hosted podcasts, designed graphics and moderated debates. Clay graduated from the University of Kansas and lives in Lawrence with his husband and son.

Kansas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt speaks at the Kansas Supreme Court redistricting hearing in May 2022. (Thad Allton for Kansas Reflector)

With Roe’s end, will Derek Schmidt protect birth control and marriage rights in Kansas? I asked.

By: - June 30, 2022

Derek Schmidt’s gubernatorial campaign wants you to take the U.S. Supreme Court at its word. Despite last week’s bombshell ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the attorney general’s campaign manager wrote to say we shouldn’t worry about other fundamental rights — birth control or gay marriage, say — being stripped by the activist court. Happy last […]

University of Kansas graduate student Brenan Riffel emailed state Rep. Cheryl Helmer about her sponsorship of anti-trans legislation. The fallout likely reshaped the session. (Lily O'Shea Becker/Kansas Reflector)

Grad student’s moral clarity exposed bigotry in the Kansas Statehouse. There is more to her story.

By: - June 27, 2022

Never underestimate the power of an individual setting out to change minds. That’s proved by the story of Brenan Riffel, a University of Kansas graduate student who confronted state Rep. Cheryl Helmer, R-Mulvane, over a bill targeting transgender people. Helmer’s bigoted response drew national attention at just the moment the Kansas Legislature was attempting to […]


End of Roe v. Wade ushers in a new Dark Age for Kansas and our country

By: - June 24, 2022

Welcome to the new Dark Age. With the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the 49-year-old precedent of Roe v. Wade, Americans and Kansans can no longer depend on our government safeguarding our individual and inalienable rights. We can no longer depend on a commonly agreed upon public policy that respects the rights of women, people of […]


Brian Wilson’s Kansas City concert sweeps past and present together into a wistful wave of change

By: - June 22, 2022

No one likes to dwell on getting older, pondering the grand sweep of time that carries us from childhood to geezerdom. Age may be a blessing, but let’s not examine that blessing too carefully, lest we strain our back. On Monday, however, I had no choice. Founding Beach Boy and chamber pop genius Brian Wilson […]

Just after a marker commemorating the lynching of Dana Adams was unveiled at Caldwell Plaza in Salina, those in the crowd drew near to read its historical account. (Clay Wirestone/Kansas Reflector)

A Kansas community confronts generations of trauma by marking 129-year-old lynching

By: - June 20, 2022

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Some wounds fester and spread, inflaming and weakening surrounding tissues. Over time, some of these wounds prove fatal. On Saturday afternoon in Salina, under a sweltering sun, more than 100 community members gathered to bind and disinfect a very old wound. On April 20, 1893, a Black man named Dana […]


Uncontested races silence Kansas voters. That means ideologues won’t be judged in November.

By: - June 17, 2022

Democracy doesn’t work without choice. Half of Kansas House races this November will feature candidates running unopposed, meaning that voters across the state won’t be able to make the fundamental choice of who represents them in Topeka. For them, democracy has broken down. Extremists, homophobes and race-baiting ideologues won’t face the judgment of voters. They […]

Teri Finneman, associate professor at the University of Kansas journalism school, created the Eudora Times with students to serve a community without a news outlet. (Lily O'Shea Becker)

At Kansas Press Association event, visions of journalism past and future

By: - June 15, 2022

University of Kansas associate professor Teri Finneman doesn’t just research community journalism. She went ahead three years ago and started a community news website, the Eudora Times, to serve the community east of Lawrence. Finneman was the featured speaker at the Kansas Press Association’s meeting on Friday in Newton. The gathering was the first in-person […]

A shelf cloud looms over Symphony in the Flint Hills' concert site in rural Chase County on Saturday evening, ahead of a severe storm packing high winds and hail. The annual Kansas City Symphony performance ended early, and about 7,000 people sheltered in their vehicles during the storm. (A.J. Dome)

Symphony in the Flint Hills faces off against massive Kansas storm system, and the spirit persists

By: - June 14, 2022

Symphony in the Flint Hills encountered that dependable adversary of Kansas events on Saturday evening: severe weather. Audience and performers had gathered for the 17th annual celebration — eloquently written about by longtime emcee Dave Kendall last week in the Kansas Reflector — when the bad news came. Organizers were informed at 6:43 p.m. that […]

Members of the Kansas news media gather to cover Gov. Laura Kelly's signing of a cut in the state's sales tax on food. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

News media can tell you what’s the matter with Kansas. But you have to do the repairs.

By: - June 8, 2022

The news media won’t save you. The news media — even the opinionated and outspoken parts of it like this opinion section — won’t save Kansas or the United States. I wish more people understood this, because if you want our nation to see a revival in civic participation and progressive values, you have to […]


Report on legislators in ‘far-right’ Facebook groups doesn’t tell real story of Kansas extremism

By: - June 6, 2022

By any measure, the Kansas Legislature has a problem with right-wing extremism. Sen. Mark Steffen, a Hutchinson physician, introduced legislation that would give him an exemption for prescribing ivermectin to COVID-19 patients. Sen. Mike Thompson shared in the viral skepticism, while also agitating against wind power. And Rep. Cheryl Helmer spewed a torrent of lies […]

The Kansas state Democratic Party is grappling with allegations, published in the Kansas City Star, that its executive director created a toxic work environment. (Getty Images)

Hey, Kansas Democrats: Your internal strife distracts activists when you can least afford it

By: - June 2, 2022

The headline in the Kansas City Star was the kind that no political organization of any stripe wants to see: “ ’He was a bully.’ KS Dems director made toxic workplace, ex-employees say. Party stands by him.” Kansas Democratic Party executive director Ben Meers has been accused by four former employees of creating that aforementioned toxic […]

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas gave a commemorative speech about Topeka's Porubsky's deli last week on the Senate floor. (Clay Wirestone/Kansas Reflector illustration from Moran photo by Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector and building photo from Porubsky's)

Closing of Topeka deli Porubsky’s marks end of an era — and earns tribute from Sen. Jerry Moran

By: - May 31, 2022

We live in an age of cookie-cutter culture. Drive around most places in Kansas — and the United States — and you’ll find the same Walmarts, the same Taco Bells, the same Applebees. You’ll see people dressed in the same clothes, driving the same cars, speaking in the same neutral accent. What you won’t find […]