Hearne: Star Morale at All-Time Low as Editor Tries to Sell ‘Hunger Games’ Plan to Staff

As to be expected, the preholiday forecast is dour to partly gloomy…

The morale at the Kansas City Star in the wake of Monday’s layoffs debacle:

“Morale? If the staff had any morale, it’d probably be lower, I’m sure,” says a staffer. “But there is no morale left after five years of this. How could there be?”

Let’s see, heads rolling. Unpaid job furloughs. Star stores shutting down. Practically the entire country’s media focused on the uncaring, unwise way two woman reporters were pitted against one another to see which gets to keep her job.

Toss in the so-called “fiscal cliff” and the downward spiral of print newspapers and it’s difficult to be buoyant.

And now news staffers at the Star are playing out “Hunger Games” scenarios among themselves. As in, “What would we do if it happened to us?”

Not to mention the world of journalism is awaiting the outcome of whether Star reporter Karen Dillon or Star reporter Dawn Bormann gets laid off.

The two were left by editors to decide, with Dillon having the first right of refusal based on her seniority at the newspaper.

One former Star staffer’s take on how things might play out:

“Dawn Bormann leaves, goes on to a better life, and nothing changes management-wise. As long as the cash keeps rolling in they don’t care what happens to the employees. It’s what the people above (Star editor Mike) Fannin think about him that counts: not the people below.

“I think it would take a major incident – like Fannin is involved in a vehicular homicide while drunk or something – to topple him. I know that’s a horrible thing to say, but that’s what it would take. Or another public embarrassment.”

Fannin has a pair of DUIs, an assault conviction and jail time on his resume.

Word has it today that Fannin’s making the rounds of the newsroom and meeting with small groups to try and explain away the “Hunger Games” situation between Dillon and Bormann.

Something to the effect that management can either eliminate a position or eliminate a body. In this case they eliminated a body and gave the most senior person the choice of taking a buyout. If Dillon declines Bormann gets laid off.

“He’s going around trying to sell his bill of goods, but I doubt anybody’s buying,” says a source.

As for the all-too-certain, yet uncertain future of remaining news staffers, “The swami predicts there will be similar situations, and more layoffs, and more furloughs next year.”

Talk about holiday dispirit.

Oh well, there’s always the newsroom holiday pot luck lunch this coming Tuesday.

The other stories:

Star Unleashes ‘Hunger Games’ on Two Joco Reporters
The journalism world notices 18th and Grand, but not for beef
Experts give thumbs down to Hunger Games scheme
The publisher responds.

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12 Responses to Hearne: Star Morale at All-Time Low as Editor Tries to Sell ‘Hunger Games’ Plan to Staff

  1. harley says:

    hearne..nice job! glad to see you’re getting this one right. It’s cool people
    are starting to see that this site is more than just a bunch of b.s. about
    gangsters…racist rants and outlaw crime.
    For those on here who supported romney and the republican rags this year
    this story gives us further details of what the corporations in america have
    become.
    The instructions given to miss mi ai or whoever she is were pretty
    despicable. But that’s what corporate america has become. They just don’t
    give a damn about people anymore. It’s now referred to as the “bain way”.
    To do this to 2 long time employees and to put them in this position is
    disgusting.
    I am writing on my national blogs about this incident. It’s terrible.
    I’m sure we’ll be seeing more about this on the national news…nice job.
    for those who supported this type of behavior in november i ask you..
    what have we become???????????????????????????????????????

    • b12 says:

      “I’m writing on my national blogs about this…”

      No borders on the internet…go for it…make it an INTERNATIONAL blog and do the job that Hearne can’t.

      I have a local blog, but since nobody reads it, I can’t graduate to a state blog.

  2. tiad says:

    Jr., Please, please don’t let this “Hunger Games” brouhaha overshadow the all-important story about Jardine’s and the 3 AM liquor license. I feel the latter story has been sorely neglected recently.

  3. the dude says:

    Welcome to the neocon new world economy, hope you have lots of vaseline stored up.

  4. the dude says:

    Two jobs enter Star-Thunderdome, both jobs leave.

  5. McMahon says:

    Who would win if Hearne tells Craig Glazer and Brandon Leftridge they have to ‘fight until the last man stands’ for the KCC sports beat?

  6. Paul says:

    I reached my monthly limit on free access to the Star’s online content today. I guess I’ll be depending on KCC for all my news now.

  7. Rick Nichols says:

    So you’ve already run into the Pay Wall, Paul, just eight days after it supposedly went up? You certainly sound like a “news junkie” to me. But at least you’re in good company!

  8. Pingback: Hearne: No Spin Zone or No Spine Zone? Star Publisher Spins ‘Hunger Games’ Layoff Strategy | KC Confidential

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