Green Room

Re: Thunderdome layoffs

posted at 6:35 pm on December 13, 2012 by

I saw this article in our headlines earlier today and was appalled.  How could NBC News use a Hunger Games analogy for this story when the obvious cinematic analogy is Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome?  AP, of course, got it right with his headline, but still …

You could call it the “Hunger Games” approach to layoffs – one that’s getting a big thumbs-down from workplace experts.

The Kansas City Star recently told two of its journalists, Karen Dillon and Dawn Bormann, that only one of them could keep her job – and the employees themselves would have to decide who should leave the company, according to the media blog JimRomenesko.com.

Dillion confirmed the report in an e-mail to NBC News, but did not provide any more details. The investigative reporter has worked for the Kansas City Star since 1991, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Bormann did not answer an e-mail seeking comment. She reportedly is leaving the company, according to KC Confidential, a blog that covers Kansas City issues.

On Monday, Mi-Ai Parrish, president and publisher of the Kansas City Star, announced in a memo to staffers a new round of layoffs — the third since she joined the company in 2011, according to MediaKC, a blog that covers media issues.

I’m appalled by the story, too, from an organizational-leadership perspective.  Executives get paid to make executive decisions, and there are few more in need of real leadership than staffing decisions, especially during downsizing.  If the Kansas City Star’s leadership can’t muster up enough intestinal fortitude to decide which of their two reporters will lose their jobs, then the person who really needs to leave is the editor who clearly can’t handle a leadership position.  Times are tough in this industry, but after this episode, both reporters should be looking elsewhere for a job where management can handle tough situations without passing the buck to underlings.  Bormann might be the lucky one.

This story tells us why the Kansas City Star is having its third round of layoffs in less than two years.  It’s not the staff.

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Well that’s the dumbmass deadtree newsrag that canned Jason Whitlock a few years ago. And what else do we expect from Obamuh’s new Amerika?

stukinIL4now on December 13, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Would Jello wrestling for a job be more or less fair? Isn’t this the kind of business decision that noodle guy would approve?

Fallon on December 13, 2012 at 6:54 PM

The KC Star is owned by my hometown McClatchy Newspapers, (Sacramento Bee)- where the track record over the past decade has been… well…

For a period of a few months they became the 2nd largest newspaper publisher in the country when they purchased Knight Ridder in 2006. The same year they sold the Star Tribune in Minnesota for $500 million after purchasing it in 1998 for $1.2 BILLION. So, billions in acquisition debt, failing circulation, failing ad sales, completely failed classified sales (bread and butter) and layoffs waves almost twice a year since.

Absolutely no business sense.

No real surprise here.

juanito on December 13, 2012 at 7:11 PM

2 employees enter, 1 employee leaves…

That would cut our unemployment costs….

dentarthurdent on December 13, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Actually, I can see the Hunger Games angle more than the Thunderdome angle: one can volunteer to face the ax, rather than one having to ax the other.

Count to 10 on December 13, 2012 at 7:59 PM

Executives get paid to make executive decisions, and there are few more in need of real leadership than staffing decisions, especially during downsizing.

Are you friggin’ kidding me? Corporate and Government America is all about passing the buck to avoid getting the blame. I’ve often said that most professional workers “succeed” by not failing. There are two ways to accomplish this: (1) make good, informed, and defensible decisions and running with it – and being able to come up with solutions along the way if things don’t go according to plan; or (2) don’t make an decisions – if you don’t take a stand, any failure cannot be yours. Most “professionals” today choose option (2). Not may people make decisive, informed, executive decisions anymore.

besser tot als rot on December 13, 2012 at 9:33 PM

“2 employees enter, 1 employee leaves…”

And the Republican would have the gun.

I like it.

NahnCee on December 13, 2012 at 9:51 PM

I don’t see what the problem is. A horrific newspaper is cutting back on staff. Instead of picking out one and letting him or her go, they decide to destroy whatever camaraderie that their people ever had and give the decision to two employees and make them decide.

The executives either are very stupid or they are sadistic with sociopathic tendencies. Probably a toxic combination of both.

At any rate, what do you expect from the left? They also think union violence is okay.

Joel_The_Oneth on December 13, 2012 at 10:40 PM

“Newspaper”, what a quaint notion.

roy_batty on December 13, 2012 at 10:59 PM

It’s the same sort of buck passing we get from legislatures that refuse to take a stand on tough issues and pass it to the public in ballot measures.

I agree that both employees should have left. And it is also no wonder that a medium that tends to alienate the political right would be in trouble in a place that is shifting more to the right.

crosspatch on December 14, 2012 at 12:48 AM

I wish we could all move on and get beyond Thunderdome.

Dunedainn on December 14, 2012 at 6:13 AM

On the plus side, the employee that leaves will have received more free publicity than any other laid off employee in my lifetime.

TexasDan on December 14, 2012 at 11:53 AM

I wish we could all move on and get beyond Thunderdome.

Dunedainn on December 14, 2012 at 6:13 AM

You know there’s a new sequel coming out next year, so we get to get beyond beyond Thunderdome.

TexasDan on December 14, 2012 at 11:55 AM

The KC Star has been a crappy newspaper for a while now, since Knight Ridder was purchased/subsumed into McClatchey.

alwaysfiredup on December 14, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Great article

api on February 26, 2013 at 5:17 PM