Hearne: Star Unleashes ‘Hunger Games’ on Two Joco Reporters

This is the original story, but there’s so much more:

The journalism world notices 18th and Grand, but not for beef
Experts give thumbs down to Hunger Games scheme
Star Morale at all-time low
The publisher responds

How cold can you get?

Check out this startling tale involving a pair of Kansas City Star reporters reportedly presented with a proposition – a variation on Sophie’s Choice – that only one position remained for the two of their jobs.

“They brought in two reporters – Karen Dillon and Dawn Bormann – and told them that one of them had to go,” says a staffer. “And that they had to decide which one would stay and they had until next week to figure it out. Sort of like ‘The Hunger Games.’ That’s the scuttlebutt anyway.”

There’s more.

“Karen Dillon has seniority, so she has the option of taking it or not taking it,” says the source. “And if she does, Dawn gets laid off. Dawn’s a great person but I think Karen will vote in favor of herself because she’s got teenage kids at home.”

This just in:  Bormann is o-u-t.

A similar proposition is thought to have gone down two years ago between a pair of Star copy editors with Monday morning poet Don Munday being the survivor.

“What’s really awful about that choice is it pits two colleagues against each other with the expectation that they will determine who is the better fit,” says one senior area marketing executive. “And it takes the responsibility away from the employers which is cruel and unprofessional.

“If the Star really didn’t want to make the choice at that time what they should have done is explain that there was only one position and that those two would have to apply for the position. Or if they knew one person had the seniority – Karen – they should have approached her in private and let her make the decision in private instead of having to make a decision knowing that the other person knows she’s making the decision. It’s unprofessional, cruel and unnecessary.”

Incidentally, Dillon, a longtime investigative reporter at the Star, was credited by Rolling Stone with bringing down Pee Wee Herman in 1991:

“An able young reporter named Karen Dillon, working the three-to-midnight shift at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, recognized Paul Reubens’s name on the police blotter and broke the story.”

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45 Responses to Hearne: Star Unleashes ‘Hunger Games’ on Two Joco Reporters

  1. paulwilsonkc says:

    What a stupid way to solve an HR problem. Clearly no management vision ir present down there.

    Kemper is sitting in the West Bottoms DARK! I bet you could rent it for $50 bucks for the night. Either put the two reporters in the middle and let them fight it out in public, selling tickets, or put the two of them in the ring with a giant black bear. Senority doesnt matter then, it just comes down to whos the fastest runner!

    Far more revenue from ticket sales than the Stars current ad income and far more humane to the 2 reporters!

    • jpb says:

      Solution is easy: Fire their two managers

      • mike says:

        You are right. That is one of the reason that management makes the money they do is because they have to make decisions like this. If a manager doesn’t have a big enough set to decide something like this, they are not management material. If Borman is making the decision, fire the manager and promote Borman to the position.

  2. Reggin Tnuc says:

    It is most disappointing that the Star resorts to such tactics. Thereappears to be much cowardice among the senior leadership. That is shameful.

    Six months severance, if that is indeed the “deal” for all employees, regardless of tenure, is generous. In good times it is expected to take one month of job searching for each ten thousand dollars of income you are trying to replace.

    I am perplexed by the choice to use the word layoff. Traditionally, in labor speak, layoff means that you will or can be rehired if the position opens up again in the future. These individuals are not getting laid off, or down sized, or right sized. They are being fired.

  3. Bronk says:

    This is The Star, where Newsroom personnel decisions are sketched out on the backs of bar napkins.

  4. the dude says:

    With each Hearne column about the un-Star it becomes more apparent that leadership there is horribly lacking and has been for quite a while.

  5. Harley says:

    hearne says “thats the scuttlebut”…so really hernia has no real sources…
    won’t give 100% credence to the source or story.
    so essentially this could all be another bullsh*t attempt by hernia to
    demean the star again.
    hernia…prove this…lets see some journalistic standards from you on this
    issue. Until then its just another rumor.
    if its for real…then the star is sick.
    if its just b.s…then hearne needs to hang up his crayons and big chief tablet.

  6. Rick Nichols says:

    Sad Times at The Star

    When I was but a boy, wanted to be a reporter, could hardly wait,
    Hoped to land a job with one of the big-city papers, strictly first rate,
    But alas a 40-year career at The Daily Planet was not to be my fate –
    Guess you could say, like the old song goes, that I was born too late!

  7. Bob the builder says:

    It appears that Star management lacks the requisite leadership skills to make a choice. Or they lack the spine to make a tough personnel choice … stand publicly and take accountability for the firing choice. So … They make the employees make the choice and then blame them for the firing. This newspaper … With its leadership …. And politically correct bias … deserves to die …. The sooner the better

  8. Proud to be gone says:

    Well, hello to the Journalism world!

    If you need to know what a wonder Mike Fannin is, read this and this if you want to catch up in a hurry.

    The Star has the worst possible affliction: incompetence at the helm.

  9. Hymie says:

    kansascity.com usually has a twitter feed on their homepage. It’s mysteriously gone now since @kcstar is getting dragged through the mud today.

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  12. fred friendly says:

    How about Fannin & Parrish go into a room, and no one comes out? One would think that with the roughly half-a-mil-or-more-a-year between them, they could make a F’n decision.

    Spineless, and clueless … in that order.

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  18. John Donovan says:

    On one hand, this definitely illustrates spineless management. On the other, an anonymous peer review could reveal employee weaknesses and lack of team-player traits that may have been unapparent to management (especially the further away from the employees management is).

    I am not defending management…this is cowardice at it’s best, but peers could provide some ground truth under the right circumstances.

  19. Greg Mills says:

    I have a much better idea. Fire Mary Sanchez!

  20. Lee Stephens says:

    As a KC native and Star/Times reader, I recall when the paper was one of the few (if not the only) employee-owned newspapers in the country. Then, in the 1970s, the employees accepted a stock buyout. It was their choice and many of them became quite wealthy overnight. When you voluntarily turn your paper over to a chain — and I don’t believe the sale was forced — journalism fades away in favor of often-dumb business decisions.

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  22. Lowell Protheroe says:

    If the Kansas City Star, aka “the Red Star,” was not such a leftist rag, they would be able to keep both reporters. In other words, try be a fair and balance paper instead of a voice piece for the left and your paid subscriptions would start increasing.

  23. bc3b says:

    It doesn’t matter much because the KC Star won’t be around in a few years.

  24. Mark says:

    This reporter ( Hearne Christopher Jr.) makes it sound like Dillon was selfish to maintain her job. Hearne Christopher Jr., why don’t you resign and offer your position to Bormann, or are you to selfish to leave Mrs. Bormann without a job “just 12 days before Christmas.” What else was Dillon supposed to do? Sheeeeesh!!

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  33. Jonathan says:

    I was directed to this story by MSN NOW. They suggested a cage match, I can’t really disagree with suggestion because it would have at least had more entertainment value & truly would have brought unprofessional to a new low level. If this level is as low as it can go.

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