Hearne: Pending Star Layoffs Come as Little Surprise

Since when did the obvious become startling?

I mean, really. For three years the Kansas City Star and other newspapers owned by the McClatchy Company have been passing out pink slips. It’s nothing new. The one-two punch of a dismal economy and a free fall in newspaper readership and circulation across the country have taken a brutal toll on a once prosperous industry.

So while some staffers at the Star were reportedly caught off guard last week when management told department heads to prepare for another round of layoffs, come on – how startling was it?

McClatchy sets quarterly goals for its papers and at the end of each period, cuts must be made if they don’t achieve those goals.

So while the Star is one of the brightest papers in McClatchy’s portfolio, it has to help carry the load of its less well endowed siblings in order to help keep the parent company afloat.


One Star columnist worried aloud Monday that 10 or 11 newsies might bite the dust in upcoming cuts.

"I haven’t heard any number," says a higher up. "After a while, you get numb to it."

And since pretty much everybody at the paper knows of the quarterly targets, that the cuts were announced after the end of the year comes as little surprise. Then again, publisher Mark Zieman’s did boast of the Star‘s profitability in the Christmas Day edition of the newspaper.

"Yeah, I think everybody was (somewhat) surprised, because we all thought we were doing better," says one staffer. "But I don’t see that we’ve done much to pick up our circulation numbers."

Therein, ladies and gentlemen, lies the problem. Readership may be up, up and away online but that’s not where the big revenues come from. Nor is it where the paper’s highest overhead resides. So as print profits continue to decline, print overhead must be reduced.

It’s just that simple.

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7 Responses to Hearne: Pending Star Layoffs Come as Little Surprise

  1. harley says:

    the death of your website….
    over 100 articles on the star. Boring. Even worse is that these have no commercial value.
    sorry hearne…you failed to take my advice and your toy website is failing,
    Noone cares about the star except you. And if this is your little space to get vendetta.
    Admit it hearne…the star fucked you out of your vehicle to have a large audience…and now
    you’re reduced to nothing…with just the few people reading your worthless articles about
    nothing. As others have said about you…”youre a has been” who never really was.
    take my advice….stop carrying this hatred around…it will kill youl

  2. Eric says:

    The answer is simple
    Why don’t they just drop that embarrassing weekly, INK, that they continue to waste paper and manpower on? That would save them a ton of money.

  3. Chet says:

    I don’t mind the INK
    Though it is no where near a reliable source for real news and information, I do appreciate it as a entertainment rag good for reading over the lunch hour. You just have to look at it for what it is, a printed fluff piece meant to drive ad revenues for the 18-35 demographic. I haven’t a clue how advertising revenues are split between the papers, but it is certainly full each week with ads.

  4. Eric says:

    @ Chet
    I understand what you are saying and maybe you are right but I’ve known a lot of people from the Star that have lost jobs and I just wonder if that’s where the cuts should be coming from

  5. ash says:

    “It’s been worth not paying 200K to not having Hearne around,” says a source. “Been like found money.”

  6. Hearne says:

    $200 K, eh? Must’ve been nice!

  7. Richard III says:

    pleasure of coffee and a morning newspaper, delivered
    Call me old-fashioned, but I’ll hold on to my STAR subscription. Please feed the journalists…they keep us informed. BTW, i miss hearne’s star column….it was guilty pleasure.

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