With Star publisher Mark Zieman hightailing it out of town for greener ($$$) pastures there’s been talk editor Mike Fannin might be close behind…
For months, Fannin has kept very odd hours and been noticeably missing-in-action in the newsroom, sources say. Combine that with a litany of potentially career-killing disclosures about Fannin’s personal life and it’s little wonder that the news tongues have been wagging.
It started with former Star columnist Jason Whitlock’s radio and television-aired accusations that Fannin had an "inappropriate relationship" with now-former Star sports editor Holly Lawton. Which dovetailed nicely, with the observations of others in the newsroom and overlapped with Lawton’s divorce and unexplained departure from the newspaper to take a position, uh, job hunting during the worst recession in decades (she eventually landed a job with a local marketing company).
Shortly thereafter, KC Confidential disclosed that Fannin had an assault conviction in Texas, a pair of DUI convictions – included an unreported local conviction resulting in slam time. Add to that, that Fannin himself had confirmed that he initially turned down Zieman’s offer to become editor, warning that there were skeletons in his closet that might be reported by the Pitch were he to accept the position.
Fannin also had confirmed that he had to be restrained by Star security years earlier, shortly after he arrived at the newspaper, for going after a Star staffer on the first floor who Fannin believed to be romantically involved with his wife at the time. Then there was the child out of wedlock Fannin fathered with a PR chick for a local junk sports team who received coverage by members of the Star‘s sports staff during Fannin’s heading of the department.
All of which raise serious questions about Fannin’s judgment.
Yet following Lawton’s resignation, things more-or-less died down. Zieman, it would appear, having had an interest in sweeping Fannin’s woes under the rug, since he’d appointed him editor despite Fannin’s warnings.
And with a new publisher on his or her way, it made sense to some that a quiet change at the top might be in order, the smoke having cleared.
However Fannin’s odd hours and absences are normal, one veteran newsroom staffer says, acknowledging the rumors.
"That’s true, people talk about how absent he is, but he’s always been that way," the staffer says. "That’s been his pattern since he’s been editor. He does not keep standard office hours."
"I wouldn’t say it’s a rumor," counters another. "It’s a fact that he’s not there a lot. And this (is) coming from someone, me, who is always looking to come in late or leave early at every opportunity."
Time will tell if that continues to fly with the newspaper’s new publisher and if Fannin makes the cut.