They’re dropping like flies at the Kansas City Star…
As expected, Hunger Games victim Dawn Bormann is takings a layoff bullet, in deference to fellow reporter Karen Dillon, who, with seniority opted to remain at the newspaper. Bormann is telling co-workers that she’s looking forward to spending more time with her family.
Also last week, religion editor Helen Gray announced that she would retire, as did one of my favorite editors Bill Dalton (more on those later).
The latest: House + Home section editor Stacy Downs will join former Star editor Anne Spenner, the Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications at UMKC.
Downs, it would appear, has been readying herself for a possible departure for a while as evidenced by her web site soliciting various marketing projects.
Dalton is another matter…
Very few Star editors are gifted with down to earth common sense and a great sense of humor.
Dalton is at the top of that list.
I remember the time I was walking through the main newsroom one morning when Dalton beamed at me and said, “Congratulations on getting horndog into the Kansas City Star.”
He meant it.
Then there was the time I had stumbled onto KU’s Wheel Club, a program where dozens of athletics department staffers were furnished brand new cars to drive by Kansas car dealers in return for perks such as premium seats at basketball and football games.
When new athletics director Lew Perkins came and instituted a points system to measure how much donors had given to determine their seats, the Wheel Club became even more important because it was looked upon quite favorably by the athletics department.
Dalton was my editor on the story and assigned Matt Campbell to assist.
“The clubs offer a perk to coaches and staff that most faculty members can only dream of: the use of top-end, late-model vehicles, such as a Lincoln Navigator, a Volvo sport-utility vehicle or a Lexus,” the story began.
Now here’s the deal, at KU, 62 staffers, from Perkins down to trainers, were getting complimentary cars in 2004 when the story came out.
It was a KU story with very specific, pointed questions as to who was and wasn’t paying personal property taxes on the cars and to what extent – if at all – they were actually being used for KU business.
The story was written, edited and cleared to go in September of 2004.
But at the last minute sports editor Mike Fannin interceded and argued that the story should include Missouri and K-State as well. Not just in reference, but in full blown reporting. The Star sports section was tight with KU, even nosing out the Lawrence Journal World on getting Perkins compensation package by a couple of hours.
Fannin didn’t want to mess that up.
So back to the drawing board we went and it wasn’t until November 20 the story was cleared to go.
However, because of all the interviewing I’d done around Lawrence, word leaked out to the Journal World who scooped us with a softball version of the Wheel Club story on October 3rd.
Our story finally ran on the front page, but coming in nearly two months after the fact was lame.
Dalton was a good soldier though, limiting his visible frustration and critiques to pretty much the rolling of his eyes.