Gruesome as Monday’s newsroom bloodbath at the Kansas City Star was, it wasn’t nearly as gawdawful as some local bloggers had projected...
A “source close to the situation” projected that 67 people might be “affected,” one media wannabe Web site “reported.”
The actual known number of newsroom layoffs Monday was closer to the 32 figure KC Confidential harvested two weeks back, which grew last week to 40 and change.
So what actually went down?
At the close of business yesterday there were 29 widely known newsroom casualties with another half dozen-plus news staffers facing either pay cuts, loss of benefits, paid vacations and part timer status or the now somewhat standard six months pay layoff check.
The marquee names, if you will, were City Hall reporter DeAnn Smith (identified as an investigative reporter by one slightly over zealous blogger), books editor John Mark Eberhart and veteran reporter/gambling and tourism columnist Rick Alm.
That said make no mistake, many fine journalists took a bullet on an otherwise beautiful spring-like day.
However a sexier story lay unreported and hanging in the balance…
And that is what will happen to key arts and entertainment writers Robert Trussell (theater), Alice Thorson (art) and Robert Butler (movies)?
The three were reportedly given the option of throttling back from their full time positions and paychecks – losing multiple insurance benefits, paid vacations and the like – and going to 32 hours a week part time jobs, sans everything but healthcare. Of course, they would then take 25 percent pay cuts while receiving no guarantee of future employment.
The three amigos have until Wednesday to choose their fate; either they stay on at the Star, effectively as freelancers with uncertain futures, or they take the 26 week severance packages (like mine) and search elsewhere for the true meaning of life.
One wild card: the Star is offering a “bridge” severance check for 10 weeks pay should they stay on part time. However if parent company McClatchy’s woes continue and word later comes down to tighten more belts, they could end up jobless, sans the year-long healthcare package available to them now and the additional 16 weeks pay they would be leaving on the table by staying and taking only 10 weeks.
So it’s a tough call…
Do they, A, take the money and run and get on with their lives? Or B, gamble on the newspaper’s – not to mention their – uncertain futures, and stick it out while waiting for the next shoe to drop?