Hearne: Star Drops Pre Holiday Layoffs Bomb on News Staff

Geez, is nothing sacred anymore?

A scant two weeks before Christmas and the Grim Reapers at 18th and Grand are up to their old tricks. As in laying off staff right before America’s Holiday.

“MEMO TO: Co-workers,” the internal notice begins.

“FROM: Mi-Ai Parrish.

“RE: Reduction in force

“As we continue to be challenged by uncertain economic news, I have decided to restructure and realign some pieces of the business, eliminating several positions, as well as some open positions.

“The employees affected by the reductions have been notified.”

The name that jumps out in the early returns is Star librarian Eric Winkler.

I can tell you from my own experience that Winkler is one of the most popular, helpful staffers at 18th and Grand. Just like newsroom IT Chase Clements was when he took a bullet in the newspaper’s September bloodletting.

Clements however must have kickass juju because three weeks later the Star‘s parent company McClatchy snapped him up, reportedly with a tidy raise.

Would that Winkler will be so lucky – he certainly deserves it.

“He’s very good at helping people find things,” says one Star newsie. “He will find anything for anybody. I mean, he really should have gotten an award for what he did.

“Plus he’s married and has two young boys, like in the first or second grade. I’m not sure that his youngest may still be in kindergarten.”

Winkler was also a frequent contributor to the Northland Neighborhood News section.

No word at this point on who else made the hit list other than rumors that some production personnel may have been handed their walking papers.

As for the the ultra low morale that continues to pervade the newsroom, think of it as business as usual, the publisher says.

“Job eliminations are a tough reality, and they are a difficult step,” Parrish’s memo concludes. “As we continue to restructure and strategically reinvent our operation for our future, your efforts are vital. Please ask me or any member of the senior team if you have questions.”

Put another way…

“I mean, what’s a December without layoffs,” quips one Star staffer.

http://www.mb-kc.com/
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29 Responses to Hearne: Star Drops Pre Holiday Layoffs Bomb on News Staff

  1. Hot Carl says:

    Who’s left to fire at this point? As Egon Spengler said in Ghostbusters, “Print is dead.”

    • the dude says:

      No kidding, I thought the only staff left there were ghostwriters from India and long dead Chicago voters.

  2. The translator says:

    Dude, you need a translator for this one.

    MEMO TO: Co-workers

    Translation: I don’t actually work with you but want you to feel that way. I was your buddy last week when I gave you a Christmas ornament. Remember the real Christmas gifts they used to give? Yeah, me neither.

    FROM: Mi-Ai Parrish.

    Translation: From your buds in Sacramento who are calling all the shots now. All of them.

    RE: Reduction in force

    Translation: Don’t refer to them as layoffs or firings in my presence, please.

    As we continue to be challenged by uncertain economic news,

    Translation: The economy is getting better for every business in the area but us.

    I have decided

    Translation: Sacramento has decided

    to restructure and realign some pieces of the business, eliminating several positions, as well as some open positions.

    Translation: I’m a horrible manager and in way over my head. Also, the big VP Christmas Party? All that food and booze costs money, especially if Fannin shows up. But it’s still on at Pierpont’s.

    The employees affected by the reductions have been notified.

    Translation: Merry Christmas.

    Job eliminations are a tough reality, and they are a difficult step

    Translation: But they’ll keep continuing, since that’s what corporate wants

    As we continue to restructure and strategically reinvent our operation for the future

    Translation: Operation? The patient needs a goddamned heart transplant

    your efforts are vital.

    Translation: Until we don’t need you, or you piss me off personally.

    Please ask me or any member of the senior team if you have questions

    Translation: Go ahead and ask but we’ll ignore them.

  3. Pingback: More layoffs at KC Star « MediaKC

  4. tiad says:

    Winkler can help O.J. find the real killers now.

  5. Ftung says:

    Can report that longtime religion writer Helen Gray is retiring. So somebody avoided a layoff until next year. Glad you’re going out on top Helen.

    Keep up the great work, Mike and Mi-Ai! You both suck beyond belief!

    • admin says:

      Yeah, I heard Helen was retiring last night. She’s great – everybody loves Helen and you’re exactly right, her stepping down bought another journalist some time.

  6. Rick Nichols says:

    As what’s his name (I can’t quite remember – Harvey somebody?) famously exclaimed in the movie Network a number of years ago, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” I mean, when is the blood-letting going to cease down at 18th & Grand? When is Corporate going to quit making The Star pay for the shortcomings of some of the other papers in the McClatchy chain? Like I wrote in my tribute to my father, he and the other guys and gals of the Greatest Generation era were most fortunate to be working at The Star when they did. They retired just in the nick of time, getting in on the last years of what has to be rightfully regarded as “the good old days” of American journalism. Suffice it to say, then, that my heart sure goes out to those who are being expelled from Mr. Nelson’s “castle” at this time, especially since we’re basically just two weeks away from Christmas.

    • the dude says:

      God Bless laissez faire and unbridled capitalism, it really waters down the sauce quite well.

    • admin says:

      Well, sadly the blood letting is likely to continue for some time. At least until the transition from print – where the ad revenues are primarily – to online, where the pickings are slim.

      There were five to six people in the Star library when I started in the early 90s. Now they’re down to one, a part timer no less. Derek Donovan now heads the library with nobody underneath him and treats it as a part time job having replaced the full time readers rep position and writing entertainment stories for INK and the Star.

      It’s tough.

  7. I guess the Star’s open solicitation for guest columnists at this time is simply a coincidence.

  8. Rainbow Man says:

    The Star’s Top Mistakes They Won’t Admit (In my opinion)

    1. The minute that first plane hit the WTC in 2001… America entered gradual austerity.. But not The Star… In 2006 they opened a giant albatross printing facility with reported 5 figure panes of glass.
    2. Somehow, The Star decided that unloading talent was smarter than figuring out how to deliver the talented product in our changing e-world. Much smaller papers were way ahead of The Star in electronic format.
    3. The best talent there was unloaded. The theatre actors can still act in the movies folks. The Star did not seem to get that.
    4. Nothing wrong with being liberal… but geez. We get that a big city paper will be liberal… Hey.. I am liberal… but they never seemed to even it out.. or even try.
    5. If they had a good product people would pay for it electronically. The Des Moines Register makes this paper look like a church bulletin.

  9. Guy Townsend says:

    The real question is whether Price Chopper will be advertising a huge truckload beef sale in the Wednesday food section in conjunction with the “don’t eat the beef” bonanza the last few days in the Star…. based on Sundays story a prime cut from Price Chopper, Hen House, Sun-fresh or anywhere could land one with a colostamy bag and a fragile lawsuit…. too bad there are not suburbans for these food giants to turn to for advertising. Had they supported the suburbans before they would have had reasonable choices….. now they can pay high prices and be trashed in the “A” section of the paper….

  10. News Junkie says:

    They need to fire Joyce Smith.

    • admin says:

      That will never happen.

      Say what you will about her methodology and fragile state of mind, Smith’s hard working, one of the biggest contributors to the Star’s business section and one of the last links to the everyday goings on around Kansas City

  11. b12 says:

    So…this has been going on for a few years.

    Why is anyone still working there?

    This train is off the track, hurtling through debris as it has tipped on its side, has caught fire, and apparently some of the passengers still aboard seem to think it will right itself, douse the fire, and jump back on the track.

    • admin says:

      Hey, we all may be critical of the Star – after all, it’s pretty easy to – but they’re still pretty much the only game in town when it comes to real, comprehensive local news coverage

      • Jess says:

        I disagree, I can get the same news on Twitter 24 hrs before the Star prints it. Plus I don’t have to clear my cookies to get around Twitter’s paywall

  12. paulwilsonkc says:

    I can’t tell you when I’ve read the Star, other than coming in to the office on Monday mornings and pulling out the Arts/FYI section from the leftovers of the Sunday edition someone drags in.

    I get the daily KC.com email blasts but I even set that up with key words so I only get the stories I want to see and nothing more.

    This shows how far back it was; in the last few years I DID read it, it was to catch Hearne’s piece… and to scour the vintage/antique car classifieds. I dont know if thats even there any more.

  13. StillAtMyMoms says:

    Did they get rid of Mary Sanchez yet? You know, that smug columinst who recently wrote that we are exagerating about the student loan debt crisis. I haven’t read such crass remarks since her other Latina smug counterpart, Maria Antonia at KMBC. And BTW, I am married to a Latina! These arrogant, “liberal”, bitter females better stop prosthelytizing and actually fact check their pieces before writing polarizing slants that induce attention.

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