Hearne: KC Star Celebrates, Then Drops Furlough Bomb

Seems a certain local media blogger dude fell asleep at the wheel this past week….

And missed a pretty big story down 18th and Grand way at the Kansas City Star. Hey, it happens. It was a busy week for KC Confidential with the changeover from our less-than-two-year-old, but still rickety former Web site. It’s been a little bumpy, but we’re sorting things out and still have a redesign in the works.

But back to the Star…

Just when its beaten, battered editorial staff thought it was safe to go outside – after five long years of layoffs, cutbacks and other indignities – things appeared to have settled some. The paper’s been chock full of ads and its online game has been growing. Heck, new publisher Mi-Ai Parrish was so stoked about ad sales she threw a huge bash for the sales staff in late June.

“Yeah, advertising is celebrating big time,” a Star staffer said earlier this month. “The publisher just had a big party for them about a week ago in the Press Pavilion celebrating their success. They had a roast pig and alcohol and everything.”

Ominously as it turns out now, I noted in my story that no such gaiety was lavished upon the lowly inked stained ones who labor in the income-free news portions of the paper.

What was it Marie Antoinette allegedly said about letting the peasants eat cake? In Parrish’ case that probably translates into Little Debbies from newsroom vending machines.

In any case, after writing the Pig Party story I was surprised to learn that most of the editorial staffers had no idea about Parrish’s pig party for the sales staff until they read about it here on KC Confidential.

Which now makes sense since Parrish was undoubtedly aware she was about to drop the furlough bomb:
“Economic recovery continues to be sluggish and uneven, and in that light I’ve made the decision to require a second one-week furlough by the end of this year,” Parrish wrote in an email to staffers. “All senior team members and most employees at the Kansas City Star will be required to take the furlough. Details about the furlough will be distributed today.

“Furloughs are tough, and I understand how disruptive they are for all of us. It’s a step we sought to avoid. You have shown your resilience time and again, for which I’m grateful. Thank you for your commitment to our readers and our community every day.
Please ask me, HR or any member of the senior team if you have questions. Thank you.”

For the uninitiated, furloughs are forced, unpaid vacations. With more than 700 staffers it’s the equivalent of laying off around 14 or 15 people. Without actually laying anybody off, so clearly that’s a good thing.

As for how the news went over with the uninvited guests in editorial, “It’s getting to be like death and taxes,” says one staffer. “That the furloughs are inevitable.”

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2 Responses to Hearne: KC Star Celebrates, Then Drops Furlough Bomb

  1. Pingback: Report: Star institutes more furloughs « MediaKC

  2. Rick Nichols says:

    A week here, a week there –
    Pity the poor Star vassal;
    “Cake, and that you must share!”
    Alas all’s not well at “the Castle”.

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