Max McCoy is an award-winning author and journalist. A native Kansan, he started his career at the Pittsburg Morning Sun and was soon writing for national magazines. His investigative stories on unsolved murders, serial killers and hate groups earned him first-place awards from the Associated Press Managing Editors and other organizations. McCoy has also written more than 20 books, the most recent of which is "Elevations: A Personal Exploration of the Arkansas River," named a Kansas Notable Book by the state library. "Elevations" also won the National Outdoor Book Award, in the history/biography category.
Motorists shouldn’t fear the cops. Let’s make sure the Kansas ‘two-step’ is left behind for good.
By: Max McCoy - September 17, 2023
Imagine you’re driving on Interstate 70 across Kansas in a used Winnebago you’ve just bought. It’s before dawn and you’re outside Salina and your spouse and your two kids are passengers in the RV, and you’re passing through on a family vacation. Everything seems normal until a car comes up behind you and pulls over […]
There’s a spike in youth suicides. Easy access to guns is part of the problem.
By: Max McCoy - September 10, 2023
There’s a book I turn to every now and then to remind myself not to surrender to despair. It’s called “Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World” and it’s a photo album about the forgotten and mostly hidden places around town. The author is Emily Cowan, who writes in the introduction that she lived in […]
After a century, states are loosening child labor laws. Where’s the outrage?
By: Max McCoy - September 3, 2023
When Jacob Riis came to Emporia in 1902 to give a lecture, audiences knew what they could expect. Twelve years earlier, he had published “How the Other Half Lives,” which exposed through candid photographs the living conditions of the poor in the slums of New York City. The Danish-American muckraker’s subject for his Kansas audience […]
Topeka’s unsheltered faced a heat crisis. But the feeling of abandonment hurt most.
By: Max McCoy - August 28, 2023
Look and see. With faces burnished by the record-breaking summer heat, they squint at the bright afternoon world with weary eyes. Their eyes burn when they talk about the troubles that brought them here to this street in north Topeka, to lie in sun-faded tents below Interstate 70 or to sit on the curb waiting […]
Inside Marion County Record, sting of loss — and a warning for American journalism — remains
By: Max McCoy - August 20, 2023
Bev Baldwin and Barb Creamer have worked in the back room of the Marion County Record for four years, and their job Wednesday morning was to fold the papers and get them ready for delivery once the newspaper bundles arrived. But the papers were late and, as the only employees yet in the building, they […]
Kansas government caters to the rich. Economic development should work for us all.
By: Max McCoy - July 30, 2023
In years to come the case of Brad Heppner and his cynical notion of a “pawn shop for the rich” may come to epitomize the avaricious bipartisan recklessness with which our Kansas politicians have catered to the powerful at the expense of everyone else. Now that the Securities and Exchange Commission is breathing hard down […]
Kansas faces grim spike in train-pedestrian deaths. We can do more than label victims ‘trespassers’
By: Max McCoy - May 21, 2023
At age 85, John Speece was using a walker the afternoon of May 4 to cross the triple railway tracks on Commercial Street in downtown Emporia. He was struck and killed by an eastbound BNSF freight, one of 80 trains that pass through the city day and night, at speeds of up to 40 mph. […]
Let’s chat about the Kansas Legislature’s threat to defund bank regulation. It was dangerous.
By: Max McCoy - May 7, 2023
I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of Kansas about banking — not with the comparatively few who understand the mechanics of banking and this thing called TEFFI but with the overwhelming majority of us whose interaction with banks is the making of deposits, the begging for loans and sometimes the […]
Buried in a leaked membership list of Oath Keepers from Kansas, a chilling set of skills
By: Max McCoy - January 22, 2023
Few things surprise me anymore. Journalists look into all kinds of assorted (and sorted and sordid) data, and it’s our job to tease meaningful stories out of the information, whether it’s a stack of boxes from a cold case murder to a spreadsheet on what the local city council spends on travel. But when I […]
Has the dark night of our political soul passed? Not when Kobach comes out of the shadows
By: Max McCoy - November 13, 2022
Less than three hours before the polls opened on Election Day last week there was a total eclipse of the moon. Called a Blood Moon because the orb turns a dusky red as the shadow of the earth passes over it, totality was reached at 4:17 a.m. — and it was the only eclipse ever […]
Kansas prosecutors must be held to a higher standard. To do otherwise courts injustice.
By: Max McCoy - October 23, 2022
It’s time for the Kansas Supreme Court to make it harder for bad prosecutors to escape discipline for misconduct. Prosecuting attorneys have unparalleled discretion in the criminal justice system to bring charges, offer diversions, forge plea agreements, or take a defendant to trial. Their mistakes could send innocent people to prison or jeopardize the prosecution […]
Emporia State University is about to suspend tenure. Here’s why you should care.
By: Max McCoy - September 13, 2022
I may be fired for writing this. It would be an improper firing, a violation of my First Amendment rights as a university professor, an infringement of the ability to pursue my discipline and state the truth as I see it in the marketplace of ideas. The given reason might be restructuring, a need for […]