Hearne: Star Parent Suffers 3rd Qtr Earnings Hit, Locals Brace for More Possible Cuts

In its struggle for survival, the Kansas City Star‘s owner slapped yet another coat of red paint on its 3rd quarter financials…

"A slump in advertising showed no signs of easing for McClatchy Co. in its latest quarter," the AP reports. "The newspaper publisher cut expenses, partly through layoffs this year, but advertising and circulation revenue declined."

How bad was it?

Earnings down 21 percent from a year ago and ad revenue off 10 percent. More than peer newspaper rivals Gannett and the New York Times. Overall ciurculation was off by 3%.

One line in particular from McClatchy chief Gary Pruitt may be unsettling to surviving local newsies:

"We remain focused on controlling costs and expect to again reduce cash expenses in the fourth quarter in the high-single digits"

More layoffs?

Prior to past quarterly cuts, the Star‘s newsroom had been abuzz with rumors of heads rolling and other cuts. However, since the departure this past spring of publisher Mark Zieman its rumor mill has been silent.

Causing some Star staffers to wonder if the leaks had come from the top. Or maybe the bottom of the top. As in Zieman’s wife (and former Star columnist) Rhonda Chriss Lokeman. Lokeman disappeared from the pages of the Star  following an embarrassing DUI arrest in January 2009 that was not owned up to by the paper until McLatchy Watch broke the story a month later.

"Readers will want to know why the newspaper didn’t publish news about Lokeman’s DUI when the paper routinely publishes news about athletes or politicians with DUI arrests," McClatchy Watch said then. "Also, this arrest raises questions about the ability of her husband, publisher Mark Zieman to oversee the newspaper and handle several ethical issues that have arisen involving KC Star columnists.

"When Zieman became publisher of the Star in 2008, Lokeman joined  Creators Syndicate, and the Star continued publishing her column. When critics have raised the issue of nepotism, Zieman usually responds by saying Lokeman is ‘nationally syndicated’ — even though the only other papers that carry her column have a small circulation.  It’s a ‘sweetheart deal’ that meets the letter but not the spirit of nepotism standards."

So was it Zieman or wife Rhonda behind past layoffs leaks?

The Star reacted to McClatchy’s second quarter financial disappointments in mid August by imposing one week unpaid furloughs on most of its 700 person staff. Which could indicate the course it may take in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned…

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7 Responses to Hearne: Star Parent Suffers 3rd Qtr Earnings Hit, Locals Brace for More Possible Cuts

  1. zzzzzzzzzzzzzz says:

    well HI, last week’s news!

    and in fact, news from two years ago! Nothing like a tasty rehash to start the week. There’s no news in it, so it’s nutritional value is sorely lacking.

  2. Hearne Christopher says:

    Say what you will, the moment of truth approaches. Guess you missed the Zeiman / Lokeman part, huh?

  3. Gerald Bostock says:

    The Sun Also Rises
    If you write a “Star layoffs in the offing” item to coincide with every quarterly report, you’re bound to be correct eventually. This syndrome was identified by Journalism Professor Encyclopedia Brown as “The Case of the Oak Nut and the Sight-Impaired Porcine.” Also, maybe nobody is leaking at the Star because the ranks of the leaky have been decimated already by the layoffs, and potential leakers are too busy having to cover all the things the laid off staffers once did.

  4. Merle Tagladucci says:

    Notable irony when a fired gossip columnist from the Star who was busted for a DUI last year writes about a laid off Star staffer having “an embarrassing DUI arrest”

    Not to mention that there’s no other kind of DUI than “an embarrassing DUI”

    How’s that diversion working out by the way HC?

  5. Hearne Christopher says:

    Correct eventually? How about every single time.

  6. Hearne Christopher says:

    Very well, thanks. Not that there’s any difference between being stopped in your driveway for a minor infraction versus driving along after the wheels and tires have come off of your car and you express surprise to police upon being told of it and refuse to take the test.

  7. Merle Tagladucci says:

    Ah so now your DUI was a “minor infraction.” Did they give you “minor” punishment? Maybe you can clear that up for everyone.

    It’s too bad there’s no video on YouTube of you in the Prairie Village PD booking area drunkenly complaining to the cop about how unflattering your mugshot turned out and asking for a re-take.

    http://www.pitch.com/plog/archives/2009/11/24/hearne-christopher-jr-charged-with-dui

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