Hearne: KC Star “Death March” Continues

think-positiveWill it ever end?

The latest cutbacks – both now and coming soon – to the Kansas City Star: another round of employee furloughs (forced, unpaid vacations) and a shrinking of the newspaper’s print edition sometime between now and the end of spring.

Star publisher Mi-Ai Parrish unleashed the not unexpected furlough news this morning in a memo to staffers.

“As we make turn into 2013, we continue to see some signs of economic uncertainty, and our revenue projections, although improving, continue to track below prior year,” Parrish wrote.

Hold it right there…

Revenue projections are “improving” in the slow first / post holiday quarter and below last year? How does that translate into things getting better?

Look, if the economy gets fully back on track, things will most certainly improve at 18th and Grand.

However the real reason for the past four years of layoffs and cutbacks isn’t the economy stupid, it’s the ongoing demise of print publications.

The costs in print are sky high – hence shrinking of the paper – but so are the profits. Online profits continue to improve, but don’t come close to making up for the drop in readership and ad revenues on the print side.

But back to the future…

Today’s furloughs require “most full-time employees” and “all senior team members” to take a week off with out pay in the first half of the year.

Why the first half?

Hello, that leaves the second half of the year available for a second round of furloughs.

Which brings us to what used to pass for morale at the newspaper…

“Everybody there says the same thing,” says a former staffer with close ties to surviving Star newsies. “It’s just a fucking death march – it’s just awful. Why do you think they’re jumping ship? They’re all trying to get the fuck out of there.

“They have to work too hard and they never have time to have any fun. They used to be able to sit around and think of story ideas, but now they’re always working.”

This entry was posted in Hearne_Christopher. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Hearne: KC Star “Death March” Continues

  1. Morgan says:

    We need a (some) chart(s) of the glorious rise and then slow death of the KC Star.

  2. paulwilsonkc says:

    Hearne, as you know, I had breakfast Saturday morning with another well known former writer for the Star. I just wanted to go on record for the masses of people who may think you have an axe to grind with the Star, or squeezing every last ounce of sour out of that grape you can, the guy I had breakfast with tells the same stories of pain, personal destruction and discontent as you. It’s clearly not just based on your bias as a former employee. He’s actually gone on to many other interesting avenues, but shares all your thoughts on the decline and then some!

    People who live in glass houses……

    • the dude says:

      Hearne has been more than fair in his treatment of the once highly regarded Star. Now it is pretty much on level with the Pitch, nothing but advertisements of the weekend sales at department stores. About all it is good for now is stuffing for packing in boxes or house training a puppy.

      Verdict: Not fit for personal consumption.

  3. Rise and fall says:

    A chart that shows The Star’s rise and fall?

    Click here.

    Pretty simple.

    • Morgan says:

      I am pretty sure the decline/end started before 2008…. probably whne it was sold to the new owners

      I was talking about a chart(s) that told the tale, the history. From no newspapers to 2 papers back to one(along with the number of employees of both)…. how many pages were published…. total inches of ad space sold over the years… total numbers of subscribers…. stuff like that.

  4. chuck says:

    “They have to work too hard and they never have time to have any fun. They used to be able to sit around and think of story ideas, but now they’re always working.”

    Am I the only one laughing his azz off at that sentence?


    • admin says:

      For what it’s worth, Chuck, no – you’re not the only one.

      With the odd exception, for most reporters and writers working at the Star the 16 years I was there was like a vacation compared to most people with real world jobs.

      Sure, there were people like Joyce Smith who worked their butts off – I did four to five columns a week – but for every one of those there were 20 or more reporters who were able to do some serious coasting.

      So in no small part, the cutbacks of recent years have been a hardship to remaining reporters.

      Comparatively speaking.

      I used to joke with former KCTV news director Don North – now at WFLA Tampa – about how inefficient the Star news staff was compared to local TV news crews.

      Granted the Star covers far more ground, but don’t forget in 2002 when North left the newspaper has more than 2,000 employees versus around 700 or fewer now.

      For most beat writers it was a pretty cushy place to work.

      • Paul says:

        Hearne, is there a point where journalists are so busy getting the news out that they don’t have time to dig for news? I’m not a journalist, but it would seem there needs to be some time to hunt down or follow up on tips or ideas. Has that chance gone by the wayside with the staff cuts and competition from bloggers?

        That said, anyone who spends most of their time goofing off without regularly striking journalistic gold would seem to be dead wood.

  5. smartman says:

    Like most blogs the best reading at the Star as of late has been reader comments posted on the anti-gun op-eds from Yael the Goat-herder and Dirty Mary. Despite being presented almost daily with prima facie evidence that most gun violence is perpetrated by black males, aged 14-25 and that 70% of murders by
    firearm(s) take place within 3% of the counties in the US these two libtard-doucheniks still wanna take away my guns as “the solution”.

    Maybe if the Star had a real Editorial Board instead of the Idiotorial Bored they currently employ they might be able to spike the circulation numbers and ad revenue to avoid these pesky furloughs.

  6. Chico's Massage Parlor says:

    I was using the star to wrap fish last week, and the fish complained.

  7. John Wayne says:

    I left the Star years ago when I realized that, in addition to its core liberalism, it was simply a dishonest company. The final demise of the Star will a plus for Kansas City, and its slow lindering death is a fitting punishment for those who contributed to its fall.

  8. chuck says:

    Jesus, I just clicked on “Cable Jeremy Dahmer Chevrolet”.

    The corvette has 638 HP and will go 205 MPH!!!


    How much would that ticket be?

    • harley says:

      jeez how much would that ticket be. who gives a frick chuck the jack o

      • chuck says:

        It’s a pretty fast car Harley.

        If you were out playing in traffic, you wouldn’t have time to get out of the way.

        Even if one of your “best friends” was driving the car.

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        He RETURNS, after that press release saying he wouldnt! Who will ever have faith in MKL PR or Mr Kaplan again??

  9. Bob the builder says:

    Agree with the dishonesty comment.

    Have felt that way for years.

    I’m actually feeling vindicated by the slow lingering death of the star, let editorial opinion sep into your news columns and you deserve to die.

  10. Jimbo OPKS says:

    My first job was throwing the Star so this is bittersweet, but it just
    can’t die fast enough.

    Barb Shelley, writes columns where it sounds like she is wet for convicted
    killer Roderic Nunnelly. Same with some crackhead named Demitrius Davis
    who got killed by a security guard at a mid-town drugstore. Liberals don’t
    care that their “caring” makes inter city life a living hell for the people
    stupid enough not to move out.

    Luis Diuguid, writes the same column three times a week for over twenty
    years. Template: find a recent news item. Use it to demonstrate how the
    white man is keeping the black man down. Explain how it’s Reagan, then
    Bush 1, then the Republicans, then Bush 2, then Bush 2 really at fault.
    Turn it in.

    2009. The Star runs a full section on the Obama inauguration. Funny, I
    don’t remember then doing that for Bush. Even though Bush carried MO and

    The GOP nominates their most liberal candidate ever and so do the
    Democrats, who gets the endorsement? Obama. Face it, the Star is no
    independent newspaper. It is the house organ of the Democrat party. IT

    • News Junkie says:

      25 years ago, I referred to the star as “The Kansas City Republican”.

      Not any more!

      The blatant liberal bias of the star today would make a billy goat puke.

  11. Blaster99 says:

    I know the worthless cartoonist must work for free. He couldn’t get his stuff into a middle school paper, and has never experienced an original thought in his entire life. If it weren’t for the NRA to use as a constant target, he’d be flipping burgers at Town Topic.
    To call Judge a hack would be paying him a compliment and an insult to hacks.

    • News Junkie says:

      No doubt.

      Judge’s sports cartoons are average at best, but I see absolutely zero value in political 1 framers.

  12. Rick Nichols says:

    Yes, there’s much about The Star that has at least some room for improvement, but I’ll continue to be in the paper’s “corner” until the very end unless I’m no longer in circulation myself. But just because I still support The Star doesn’t mean I like McClatchy … I don’t. Then again, even if another company had been the owner of the paper these past four, five, six years, that’s no guarantee that they, too, wouldn’t have made the cuts in staff that have been made. Sixty years ago The Star leaned to the right, and today it leans to the left. Maybe one of these days it’ll pretty much be “dead center,” which would make me a lot happier. No, I was never a paper boy when I was a mere lad, but rolling the paper for the guy who throws it may very well turn out to be my last job unless the economy really turns around and in a big hurry. Maybe the folks at McClatchy need to ask their friend in the White House for a bailout like GM got.

Comments are closed.