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. Max teaches journalism at Emporia State University.
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 […]
Black rifles are the favorite of mass shooters. To save lives, these guns have to go.
By: Max McCoy - June 5, 2022
We must ban the black rifles. It’s the only way to stop the epidemic of mass killings in America, where the favored weapon of the gunmen (and they are nearly all men) is the AR-15 and its variants, assault weapons collectively known as “black rifles.” Yet the National Rifle Association and a chorus of conservatives […]
On this Kansas community’s Main Street, the moral risk of easy money
By: Max McCoy - April 24, 2022
HESSTON — Under a wind-whipped April sky, a sign painter named Ray Katzer touches up the new letters on the facade above 105 N. Main St. with strokes as deft as a blue-collar Da Vinci. He’s standing on a platform at the end of a boom lift, elevated high above street level, and he works […]
As we transition from pestilence to war’s shadow, we must count the dead and comfort the living
By: Max McCoy - March 6, 2022
Two years ago today I walked out of my office at Emporia State University into a new pandemic reality. It was the end of one thing and the beginning of something else. Although I could see dim shapes on the horizon moving toward us — I had been monitoring news reports about the spread of […]
Europe is again at war. The example Ike set is more important than ever.
By: Max McCoy - February 27, 2022
There’s a lot of talk these days about leadership, but damned little of the stuff to be found. Never have we needed effective leadership more than now, as we watch Russian tanks rumble into Ukraine, in the biggest military offensive since World War II. The number of troops, estimated at up to 190,000, is about […]
Lawmakers are pushing to muzzle teachers. Kansans who love unvarnished fact must push back.
By: Max McCoy - February 20, 2022
Teachers are the enemy. That’s the message a pair of bills debated in back-to-back hearings Wednesday in the Kansas Legislature sends. The proposed laws, which came out of GOP-controlled education committees, would stifle the ability of K-12 teachers to teach historical fact and diverse points of view, eliminate the affirmative defense for educators, and broaden […]
Kansas is digging a $1 billion mystery hole. What could go wrong?
By: Max McCoy - February 13, 2022
It’s the biggest financial incentive package in state history. Yet we don’t know the name of the firm lawmakers have decided to woo with this unprecedented and risky deal, which would provide the mystery company at least $1 billion in tax breaks, payroll subsidy, state-funded employee training and other incentives. The sheer size of the […]
How would the ‘Kansas goat doctor’ have behaved in office? The answer is Mark Steffen.
By: Max McCoy - February 6, 2022
Mark Steffen could give old Doc Brinkley a run for his money. John R. Brinkley was a quack of the first order. The “Kansas goat doctor” made a fortune a century ago by promising old men he could restore their sexual vigor by grafting bits of goat testicles onto their tender parts. It was nonsense, […]
Disgusted by the chaos at local school board meetings? Then vote in local elections.
By: Max McCoy - January 30, 2022
The Lower Fox Creek School at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is a stout building of native limestone. Completed in 1882, on land given by local rancher Stephen F. Jones, it was the heart of School District 14, meant to advance the common good by providing an education for area children. It taught all grades, […]