The Joker in the Newsroom

We all know that print journalism is on its heels at the moment, not yet having found steady footing for an era in which the digital revolution is disrupting a business model that’s held relatively steady for the better part of a century. I’m not sure anyone realized it had gotten this bad, however. From CBS St. Louis:

The Kansas City Star reportedly told two reporters that they had to figure out which one of them was going to get laid off.

Jim Romenesko reported on his blog that management told reporters Karen Dillon and Dawn Bormann that they would have to decide their fate and that the managers would stay out of it.

“They brought in two reporters – Karen Dillon and Dawn Bormann – and told them that one of them had to go,” an unidentified staffer told KC Confidential. “And that they had to decide which one would stay and they had until next week to figure it out. Sort of like ‘The Hunger Games.” ’That’s the scuttlebutt anyway.”

It seems to me that we conservatives have gone a bit overboard of late in finding signs of societal decline in every tea leaf, so I’ll resist the temptation to impute some broader social trend to the management of a single newspaper wanting to solve personnel problems in the Octagon

Still, even in the limited context of the Star, I’d hope we can all agree that it’s a dereliction of duty when the bosses — who get paid, after all, to get their hands dirty on the tough calls — default to the management style of the Joker.

  1. Garrett Petersen

    This has cool economic implications, though.  If the one who gets to keep his job can compensate the one who gets fired, there can be an efficient outcome.  Hmm…

  2. HeartofAmerica

    According to Bottomline.com, the KC Star has disavowed this tale of employment woe. But those of us here in KC know that it’s true.Every couple of months, more Star employees are laid off which accounts for why they can’t report important national stories. There is no one left to do so.

    A sad state to a once excellent newspaper.

  3. flownover

    Listen to Heart, the KCStar has gone so far afield, it’s laughable.

    They really miss Art Brisbane (all generations) who went to waste time @ NYT.

    Their posturing is blatant, it has an obscurity with the density of the distance between your pants and your colon. if you get my meaning

    Sad too. Hemingway, William Allen White  both  held down desks here. 

    I’d bet that they couldn’t find Emmanuel Cleaver , Claire McCaskill or Tom Pendergast to make the call for them. And  Jason Whitlock is probably flying to St Bart’s  with Bob Costas’ hairpiece.

  4. KC Mulville

    The story assumes that both will fight to stay.  Any sane person would fight to leave.

  5. Roberto

    A simple solution suggests itself. If the management is unwilling to do its job then who needs to be fired is readily apparent. 

  6. Clandesteyn

    That’s easy.  Fire the male.  What?  They’re both female?  Okay, then let me just pull out my victim group hierarchy chart (the ACLU gives these out like Heritage gives out pocket constitutions). 

    Now let’s see…

    white<asian<Jewish<hispanic<natve American<black<Muslim

    So, whose trump card is wins?

  7. Garrett Petersen
    Clandesteyn: That’s easy.  Fire the male.  What?  They’re both female?  Okay, then let me just pull out my victim group hierarchy chart (the ACLU gives these out like Heritage gives out pocket constitutions). 

    Now let’s see…

    white<asian<Jewish<hispanic<native American<black<Muslim

    So, whose trump card is wins? · 0 minutes ago

    Don’t forget straight<bi<gay<trans-sexual!

  8. Pencilvania

    Sounds like each reporter has some discrimination-ready quality that could easily be fabricated into a lawsuit if she is terminated.  But management figures if it shrugs the decision onto them, it can’t be blamed for bias.

    Yeah, in A World Without Lawyers that might come true.

  9. Clandesteyn
    Garrett Petersen

    Clandesteyn: That’s easy.  Fire the male.  What?  They’re both female?  Okay, then let me just pull out my victim group hierarchy chart (the ACLU gives these out like Heritage gives out pocket constitutions). 

    Now let’s see…

    white<asian<Jewish<hispanic<native American<black<Muslim

    So, whose trump card is wins? · 0 minutes ago

    Don’t forget straight<bi<gay<trans-sexual! · 3 minutes ago

    Oops!  You’re right, there’s print on the back.  How did I miss that?  It also says something here about unions… let’s see.  “workplace violence is a criminal act and a fire-able offense unless the employee (hereafter referred to as “freedom fighter”) is a member of labor union.” Huh.

  10. WI Con

    I can’t get that fight between the two Gypsy ladies in ‘From Russia with Love’ out of my mind.

  11. Keith Preston

    The sooner the old media completely implodes, the better, I say.  They would  both be better off seeking other “opportunities.”

  12. Jimmy Carter

    …and they had until next week to figure it out.

    What happens if they don’t figure it out within the week? Do they get an extension? Does management then make the decision? Do they all go over the cliff?

  13. The New Clear Option

    HoA’s spot on. The KC Star has been on life support for years. I stopped taking this Lefty rag long ago. They blew all their capital moving into a beautiful new glass house, showcasing their presses about five years ago & promptly started laying people off right and left. The sooner they go the way of the Seattle PI (or beyond) the better. They are complete dinosaurs.

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