Updated: Veteran Journalists Among Those Accepting Kansas City Star Buyouts

Mar 17, 2016

Updated, 2:15 p.m. Friday:

At least five journalists have taken voluntary buyouts from the Kansas City Star.

Those departing include editorial page editor Steve Paul, columnist Barb Shelly, theater critic and arts reporter Robert Trussell and assistant sports editor Mark Zeligman.

“I wish The Star's resources were such that the departure of one columnist/editorial writer wouldn't cause a minor Facebook stir,” Shelly wrote in a Facebook post Friday morning that’s already gathered nearly 100 comments. “Even now, I have hopes that I'll be replaced on the ed board and as an op-ed columnist.”

Reached by phone, Shelly stressed that the buyout was voluntary. She says she will remain active on Twitter.

Paul has already penned his farewell column, chock-full of parting thoughts on some of the biggest issues facing Kansas City right now. Reached by phone, he too emphasized the voluntary nature of the buyout, adding he’s writing a book and has other projects to keep him busy.

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The Kansas City Star has extended another round of buyout offers, this time to newsroom employees.

The deadline to accept them was Wednesday.

“There are roles within a newspaper that are changing,” Star publisher Tony Berg told KCUR’s Gina Kaufmann Thursday on Central Standard. “How they change doesn’t necessarily mean you stop doing something. It just means with the advent of technology, you’re able to be more efficient with what you do.”

Berg, who’s been on the job for two months, didn’t say who had accepted the Star’s buyout offers. Arts reporter Robert Trussell announced his retirement on Facebook. Other veteran journalists are expected to join him.

Berg said The Star is staffing up in other areas, adding a videographer and other key positions in the advertising department.

“It’s technology positions. It’s content producers. It’s people that can bring us to a place where we can continue to grow audience,” Berg said.

He added the end game is to remain an important part of the community, continuing The Star’s watchdog role even as the newspaper’s focus shifts.

“I have complete faith that The Star is not going anywhere in the next five years, 10 years, 20 years,” Berg said. “It certainly will not be on my watch that The Star goes down.”

The Star last extended buyouts to employees a little more than a year ago. 

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.