I have to admit, this one caught even me by surprise…
New Kansas City Star publisher Mi-Al Parrish stunned the newsroom today when she unleashed her first ever round of layoffs at the newspaper.
"It was a shock, because people weren’t expecting it," says one source.
In addition to eliminating "seven staff positions," Parrish’s memo outlined that a one week unpaid furlough would be implemented for "most employees" to be taken in the first half of the year. That on the heels of a week’s furlough late last year.
"That’s two weeks with no salary," says another surprised Star staffer.
As is the custom, Parrish did not identify which staffers would take a bullet. But according to one source, only a single newsroom employee – tthe prolific Joe Lambe, a courts and 913 reporter in Johnson County – was thought to be on the kill list.
"That’s because we still have seven or eight positions that remain unfilled," says the source. "For example, J. Brady McCollough in sports left at the end of last year."
The floral-tongued McCollough hosed down the sports beat at KU and is now carrying on about hockey and Penn State for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Here’s what was weird and unexpected about the Parrish layoffs and furloughs today…
With signs that the newspaper had a kickass fourth quarter and economic indicators like car sales pointing upward, many staffers – plus me – figured the layoffs influenza might have passed after four years. At least for the immediate future.
Remember, the Star has gone from more than 2,000 prior to the downturn of 2003 / 2004 employees to barely 700.