Last one out the door, turn out the lights. Kansas City Star lead political writer Steve Kraske is outward bound. As in, bailing from the rocky realm of print journalism for the far calmer seas of UMKC.
Steve Kraske, our longtime political guru, has decided to leave his full-time role at The Star so he can teach journalism as an associate professor at UMKC.
With this change, Steve will continue as a part-time member of our staff, writing his Saturday column and contributing to the The Buzz blog he co-authors with Dave Helling. He also will be available to us to provide expertise and, at times, reporting on political topics near and far.
Steve is a franchise player for us, and his contributions to our success over the years have been vast and varied. Even better, he’s a terrific ambassador of The Star and a deeply respected member of our team.
We wish Steve all the best in his new adventure and look forward to our continued relationship.”
So why would Kraske walk away from a healthy (for print journalism) paycheck for a far smaller one?
Trust me, it’s not like he’s in the chips, and unless I’m missing something the part time KCUR money is not going to come close to keeping Chez Kraske in Westwood afloat.
And at a rate of $100 to $300 a pop – unless something else is negotiated – freelancing for the Star is hardly a lucrative venture.
So there are two things at play here, at least on the surface.
There’s not a soul (still) alive at 18th and Grand that doesn’t lament their sad state of affairs and unpleasant work atmosphere. Especially veteran reporters like Steve who experienced the way things were in “the good old days.”
It’s just not a very fun place to work anymore, almost all agree.
And trust me, Steve had it good.
I hesitate to say he had a cushy job, but outside of specific news events and election seasons, Kraske’s work pace was a fairly calm one. That’s why he was able to devote so much time to doing five radio shows a week at KCUR. And Steve played it pretty conservatively, he wasn’t out there on the cutting edge or anywhere close in his political reporting and commentary.
That’s clear from editor Greg Farmer‘s whimpy, submissive farewell memo to the newsroom above.
It almost reads like a missive to some guy’s wife or girlfriend who just dumped him, making clear that the door would always be open to future conjugal visits or whatever – don’t be a stranger, we still care.
You may recall the same thing went down when sports scribe Joe Posnanski bailed four years back. Remember that headline?
I dunno, last time I checked Joe actually did leave.
My hunch is that Steve plans to join a long list of Kansas Citians – refugees from other industries in difficult straits – who quilt together their existences via several small paychecks as opposed to one big one.
Take KCC movie guy Jack Poessiger.
At one point Poessiger was a highly paid movie biz executive with a company that went bye-bye. But by the time I met Jack in the early 1990s he was a freelance marketing guy, a part time travel agent and a radio movie reviewer. He still is.
Kraske will likely get a far smaller check from UMKC for teaching young people how to get jobs in a low paying biz with a highly uncertain future. And another from KCUR for batting for the ghost of Walt Bodine. And a third from the Star for allowing the newspaper to retain the semblance of having an experienced political correspondent until they can find somebody younger and cheaper.
And that’s kind of the way the cookie crumbles these days at the Kansas City Star.