Hearne: Kansas City Star Layoffs Continue, Pick Up Steam as Morale Falls


Jim Barcus

It’s not like newspapers are the only businesses that have been suffering in recent years…

That said, while former Kansas City Star publisher Mark Zieman used to get away with blaming the ocean of laid off newsies heading for the exit door every three months on the economy, the real reason for the blood letting is now far more apparent; newspapers are hemorrhaging print revenues (and profits) far faster than they can be replaced online.

It’s nothing new – and it’s obvious to KCC readers certainly – but placing the blame on the economy is no longer a viable excuse.

To that end, the Star is laying off more staffers this week.

I told you about investigative reporter / gunslinger Karen Dillon yesterday. Today the bloodletting continues with photographer Jim Barcus, a classified administrative assistant and an ad entry clerk.

KansasCityStar_ScrubbedAgainIn addition Grand Communications – a specialty arm of the Star choking out pubs like Spaces – is sending M Magazine (M as in “Mom”) to an early grave.

No word on the future fate of Star magazine.

“I’ve heard the rumors of its demise, but I have no idea,” says one staffer. “To me, I just see the product keep shrinking and people don’t get what they paid for anymore.”

Today’s leading layoff is Barcus…

“He was the coolest,” says the staffer. “And very talented.”

As for Dillon, “We haven’t seen her at all,” adds the source. “She left, I guess, right after they told her.”

How about morale?

“Oh, I don’t know. I’ve been keeping my head down – my morale’s not good.”

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27 Responses to Hearne: Kansas City Star Layoffs Continue, Pick Up Steam as Morale Falls

  1. DantheMan says:

    Most of us who have read the star for many years know why. The paper is too far left. The opinion writers? Yael, Mary, Lee Judge cartoons, Lewis, etc. I wont even go into it.

    If it was a paper of the people, of ALL opinions, backgrounds, and reported EQUALLY on both sides when it comes to politics then it would have better online readership and loyalty.

    I am not saying they do not produce any good work because the KC Star still does. They do. Its just not the same anymore. It is now not what it was intended to be.

    • Mysterious J says:

      You are so right…conservatives just aren’t being served by the media. Ok, they have the number one cable news channel for the last decade. And the number one radio show. And the number two radio show. And the number three radio show. And the largest newspaper by circulation in the US. And a shelf full of bestselling books…but if the Star would just hire some teabaggers, that would TOTALLY turn their business around.

      • Jess says:

        Butt hurt much? That is the problem with the Star and really the left in general, you will call people an idiot if you give an opinion different than what YOU want to hear. With everything #1 on the “teabagger” side you would think that they would just jump on board right? And at least give the other side a look?

    • Ghettoseph says:

      Yeah. It’s not that the internet is full of free news sources or anything, it’s their politics. Way to be, beautiful mind.

  2. kinder says:

    I just wrote a research paper based on 14 days of ACA coverage in the Star and showed no perceived bias on their reporting of the issue. For every left leaning editorial there was an equally right leaning editorial and the news coverage was mostly factual and not slanting in any particular direction. I disagree, at least where the ACA is concerned, that the Star is too “left”.

    • expat says:

      Obviously your methodology was flawed. My guess is your own internal bias is so far left you didn’t notice the Star’s bias. That seems to be standard amongst media types.

    • The ACA news the past few weeks has been ALL BAD for the administration! Even the Star couldn’t spin that turd in a different direction if it wanted to. Methinks you might want to look at more stories than just that one area. That said, I get very little but sports news from the Star, and am making no claim (due to general ignorance) as to whether their hard news coverage tends to slant leftist. In general, I don’t think of the Star as some print knockoff of MSNBC, with the possible exception of that ridiculously loaded editorial board.

  3. John Altevogt says:

    OK, let’s pretend that everything is fair and balanced, that unicorns exist there’s an economy out there that will bring revival to the newspaper industry. What kind of business model gets rid of award winning journalists like Dillon (and so many more) and yet retains its bloated, side down management structure and, worse yet, the very high dollar duds on the editorial page who could be replaced by local bloggers paid by the column?

    The one thing they can offer that local bloggers can’t (or at least can’t do as well if The Star would actually try) is original news. But there are all sorts of folks available who are vastly more interesting on both sides of the political spectrum than the ever more predictable and tedious affirmative action babies of the Star’s editorial page. And now they add yet another besotted leftist to the editorial board?

    Do they actually think people buy that rag for the editorial page? Get rid of it, hire some of the quality journalists they’ve let go (and get rid of a couple of the duds like Helling, Cooper and Hendricks), streamline the management, get a copy editor, or two back and you might actually have something worth reading.

    To be fair, with adult supervision, Helling could cut and many of the others were certainly capable of producing a quality product if The Star chose to do so.

    Perhaps if Mi-ah gave up her membership at the River Club and hung out in a few more joints in Westport and the 39th St corridor she’d find out that we really want to know what’s going on in our community, not waste time being outraged by the latest sycophantic buttlicking of the establishment’s latest scam on a useless editorial page.

    It tells you something about the (mis) management of that joint when people like Fitz and Hearne leave and put out a more interesting product than they ever produced inside the walls at 18th and grand. Give us a newspaper, a real one with Tony’s balls, The Pitch’s concern for corruption and the objectivity to make it worth reading for all the citizens of the metro area. Right now everyone is kicking its ass and it’s pathetic.

    • tiad says:

      Well, to be fair, Jr. is putting out only about the same semi-interesting product he put out inside the walls.

      • admin says:

        Yeah, highest read column in the Star…

        Except that, I’m really not putting out the same product. Not even close. Running KCC on the cheap and working with other writers – as opposed to being paid a six-figure salary and doing nothing 24/7 but combing Kansas City and writing about people, places and things – are worlds apart.

    • Thanks for reading even though you hate us so much. It’s very confusing.

      • John Altevogt says:

        See my comment below regarding accidents and train wrecks.

        That said, I think there are/were some very good and talented people at the Star unfortunately they are not in an environment that rewards quality work (as Ms. Dillon, among others demonstrates), nor do they seem to encourage it (see her comments). How else do you explain the fact that very talented journalists continually get scooped by bloggers?

    • Paul Mirecki says:

      goddamn you really are a nutcase.

      • John Altevogt says:

        You’re not fooling anyone, Mirecki never uttered anything quite that literate. even more interesting is that when you click on the link to your name and the one on the moron at 10:17 both open Der Sturmer’s website.

        If you actually do work at The Star, you might as well get used to writing on blogs since it’s probably only a matter of months before you have no job (unless you’re the kind of completely useless and besotted affirmative action baby they tend to keep around and promote) and this is your only outlet.

      • John Altevogt says:

        By the way, I ordered my Women of The Star calendar featuring Derek Donovan on the cover several weeks ago and I still don’t have my copy. Is that why they fired that photographer? Was Derek pissy because he forgot to airbrush the bags out from under his eyes?

  4. Observer says:

    Four metaphors in one sentence?! Come now, Mr. Christopher. You can do better than that. I hear Don Ranly tisk-tisking now.

    The Star died several years ago. I’m not sure why it’s news anymore. It certainly doesn’t contain any. The articles or blog posts I’ve read in the last three years about layoffs at the Star contain the same messages. The demise of the Star requires no more commentary. Unless you have an original angle and a worthy lede, I suggest you file Star news away as background for some later story worthy of telling.

    Believe me, I’m not a fan of the worn-out rag. I’d sooner read a syntactically painful review of some wanna-be folk rock combo from central Kansas than a blog post about the latest layoffs at the Star. May we please move on?

    • John Altevogt says:

      It falls into the same morbid category as an auto accident, or a train wreck. Yes, we should just avert our eyes and drive on by, but we can’t help ourselves. If it’s tedious for you to read there’s other content on Hearne’s site you could look at. Some of Dwight Sutherland’s fine writing, for instance.

    • admin says:

      Dan Ranly, huh…

      You should take something for that before it gets worse.

      I certainly am not among those calling for or predicting the demise of the Star. For one thing, it’s not going to happen. Not anytime soon and probably not in our lifetimes.

      That said, critics of the newspaper certainly have plenty to criticize and there’s nothing wrong with that. Nor is there with documenting the historic transition and changes the local paper is going through.

      You on the other hand would seem to suggest that you’d prefer someone wake you with the full story once it’s done.

      And there’s an easy fix for that!

  5. expat says:

    Don’t know anything about Barcus but in that photo he looks like an old lesbian.


  6. Old scribbler says:

    So who was the admin assistant let go? They are the chewing gum and baling wire who’ve been holding the place together.

  7. chuck says:

    Mysterious J and Kinder would have us tally the score on Liberal v Conservative agendas by way of reports on the dumpster fire roll out of Obama’s ACA.

    Gimme a break. Even CNN and the rest of the Cultural Marxists who control the Main Stream Media are unable to obfuscate or 2nd party the blame for this disaster. If they could, they would. They ignore it as much as possible, but this baby has wheels and teh smell is worse every day, so yes, there is reporting on the left, the Main Stream Media left, concerning this disaster. Kind of like the weather, it can’t be ignored and the blame can’t be shifted.

    • chuck says:

      God, I am such a moron, I just said that the Main Stream Media couldn’t blame the weather on conservatives.

      Mea fu*kin Culpa.

  8. Pingback: Burnt Ends: Layoffs and sabbaticals | MediaKC

  9. StillAtMyMoms says:

    Coventional journalism will be a thing of a past such as telegrams and VCRs. Print’s dead and broadcast will soon follow suit. News is too instantaneous nowadays with the internet. Not only that, but it seems every journalist is jumping ship by either doing some corporate PR gig or starting their own blog altogether.

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