Re: Thunderdome layoffs
posted at 6:35 pm on December 13, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
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.