Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Star announced yesterday it will be laying off about 150 employees, or 15% of its workforce. The layoffs - which are expected within the week - are part of a move by the Star's parent company, McClatchy, to reduce expenses. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross has more.
Between layoffs, buyouts and attrition , the Star had already lost about 300 employees last year, and was down to about a thousand, before this current round was announced. The remaining staff will take a 5% paycut, or if they earn more than $100,000, 10%. Like newspapers across the country, the Star has seen a sharp decline in advertising revenue with the recession. University of Missouri journalism professor George Kennedy says the McClatchy Company borrowed billions of dollars to buy many of the former Knight Riddder newspapers, including the Star, three years ago, when the markets were at their peak.
KENNEDY: McClatchy made the news itself, by making what has turned out to be one of the historic, bad buys in all of publishing history.
George Kennedy says losing so much staff cuts into the paper's ability to do in-depth reporting.
KENNEDY: All too often it's the senior people, the really experienced reporters, and photographers, and copy editors and designers, and the mid-level managers who hold the things together on a daily basis. And with that you lose terrific amounts of institutional memory.
The newspaper declined to say how many of the layoffs will be to the newsroom staff. The Kansas City Star's publisher Mark Zieman wrote in a memo delivered to employees yesterday that the cuts were necessary "to survive the recession and come out safe and profitable on the other side."