December 14th, 2012

A loyal reader of this site, who simply wants to be known as a “Guy With a List,” has provided the names of those journalists who have been let go at the Kansas City Star over the years.

He calls it his “Michael C. Fannin Wall of Shame” in recognition of the Star editor who took the helm at the McClatchy-owned paper nearly five years ago an oversaw the cutbacks.

Here is the list (feel free to reply with any names that were missed):

Rick Alm (business), Melodee Blobaum (local), Gail Borelli (features), David Boyce (sports), Jennifer Bhargava (local), Melodee Blobaum (local), Robert Butler (features), Hearne Christopher (features), Diane Carroll (local), Mike Casey (local), Bob Cole (business), Charles Coulter (edit page), Angela Curry (features), John Mark Eberhart (features).

 Mike Fitzgerald (sports), Jeff Flanagan (sports), Robert Folsom (features), Malcolm Garcia (local), Bill Graham (local), David Hayes (business), Randy Heaster (business), Kevin Hoffman (local), Allen Holder (features), Paul Horsley (features), Julius Karash (business), Heather Krafft (features), Vickie Long (business), Bob Luder (sports).

 Jennifer Mann (business), Mike Mansur (local), Brian McTavish (features), Gene Meyer (business), Eric Palmer (business), Jim Pedley (sports), Russ Pulley (local), Mike Rice (local), Howard Richman (sports), Steve Rock (sports/local), Laura Scott (edit page), Sara Shepherd (local), John Shultz (local), Debra Skodack (local), DeAnn Smith (local).

Ann Spivak (features), Loren Stanton (local), Karen Uhlenhuth (features), Mechelle Voepel (sports), Kit Wagar (local), Monica Watrous (features), Paul Wenske (business), Jackie White (features), Steve Winn (edit page).

“It’s only about fifty names, but that’s only writers,” he says. “It doesn’t include so many other good photographers, copy editors, administrative assistants, and all the other folks who were the backbone of the news operation. If you include them, the list swells to over 120 laid off. Plus it doesn’t include the many people who took retirement, died, took voluntary buyouts, or found better places to work. You know…like McDonald’s.”

He added some final thoughts regarding the editor:

“May, 2013 will mark Year Five of the Mike Fannin reign. The ”Fannin Five” will go down in the history of The Star as the “Fruitless Five.”  Five of the most fruitless ever: for readers, for employees, for a free press.”

12 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    Gosh, that would be a hell of a newspaper. I guess it once was.

  2. Karl Kelly says:

    Ah, come on. None of above were “let go”, “fired”, “laid off” or none of those bad words.

    According to the publisher, they were generously given the opportunity to participate in the Star’s exemplary “severance program”, which must be the mother of all euphemisms.

  3. Rick Nichols says:

    I’ve actually met Laura Scott and a local blogger lets me put my silly little poems on his website from time to time, but I’m sure the rest of the folks mentioned by Guy With A List are good people, too. I understand that Mike Fannin is The Star’s former sports editor, which very much helps to explain the paper’s sports-heavy content in recent years, a “trend” I particularly dislike.
    I won’t go so far as to say that Fannin needs to go, but unless there’s some sort of a shakeup down there at 18th & Grand in the very near future, things will only continue to deteriorate inside “the castle”.

  4. Naked Lunch says:

    Saw Fannin at lunch today with sports editor Jeff Rosen and asst. editor Chris Fickett, two guys that probably won’t be fighting over their jobs anytime soon

    Those have got to be fun: talking about the latest layoffs, who’s going next, and so forth.

  5. Rich says:

    Notoriously absent from that list are the familiar faces of the Editorial page. The Star would do well to relieve itself of a few of those individuals. They should consider saving the salaries of Yael, Barb, and Lewis and perhaps retain a few of the journalists that put the NEWS in newspaper.

  6. jmhaney says:

    Funny how so many of you think that the only thing that makes up a newspaper is the “journalists.” Well there were a lot of the people who worked at the Star, including me, that provided a service to put out a newspaper. They were sales people, photographers, press workers, accounting staff, ad services staff, house keeping and janitorial, security and many others.
    While I regret that anyone lost their job, the writers worked in their own silo and most of them didn’t appreciate the work down by any of the other departments of the Star. I would encourage the “Guy With A List” to remember his “co-workers” who weren’t the gallant writers and did just as much, loved the business as much, and were just as passionate about their job in putting a newspaper on the street.
    I’m sorry, but the vast majority of the “journalists” at the Star really had no idea and didn’t care at all about the business of running a paper.

    • JohnLandsberg says:

      In all fairness he did mention others were let go at the Star who were important in making the newspaper successful.
      On my end, this site focuses on journalism and the media. The list highlights the journalists who are no longer at the paper and were the reason many people subscribed to it.

  7. Dickeylee says:

    Really miss Rick Alm and Randy Heaster on the business page. Remember when Alm covered the Dot for the Star.
    The list is amazing, the talent and knowledge lost is staggering. Just wow.

  8. Tony says:

    I’m really dumbfounded. I would think that when most people pick up or click open the paper, the last section they read (if they read it at all) is the Opinion section. Yet the list above includes very few opinion columnists. Makes me think that ideology trumps profits at the Star.

  9. John Altevogt says:

    Don’t know either Tony, or Dickeylee, or what their politics are, but they’re both spot on in my book.

    I’ve talked to other activists around town on the other side of the fence and both sides agree that The Star’s editorial board sucks.

  10. Ken EBERHART says:

    Clearly, the management of the KC Star is doing an exemplary job of reducing their journalistic staff by cutting back on the mundane features such as arts and entertainment, book reviews, poetry, music, literature, theater, etc. Kudos to the Star’s administration as they strive to amp up their coverage of the Royal’s and Chiefs perennial losing seasons at the expense of getting rid of those pesky arts and features writers.
    We in the general public thrive on having a plethora of information about the who, what, where, why, when and how the pro sports franchises continue to lose games miserably. Nobody wants to read about fine arts and how the intellectual benefit of those pursuits is a much better way to spend and evening in the Metro than sitting in a seat at the Truman Sports Complex and watching a team of bush league wanna be pros as they make a sorry attempt to provide the home crowd with a justifiable reason for their collective millions in income as fair exchange for their mediocre athletic skills. That is a fine newspaper there on Grand Ave. Genius at the helm… KEN EBERHART (see above: JOHN MARK)

  11. John Altevogt says:

    Not all of the blame can be laid on Fannin’s doorstep (although he deserves it). When i first moved to Wyandotte County I read everything in The Star’s library that Rick Alm had ever written (back then it was free). his work was fantastic. However, he was moved to business by Art Brisbane. Brisbane wanted the WYCO bureau to be a happy chat source for the Marinovich administration and that would not happen with Alm on the case. One day Alm wrote a column for the business edition and had what should have been 3 front page items about WYCO that would have embarrassed Marinovich, but they were buried on page 19 of the business section instead.

    I also had the chance to work with Steve Winn in editorial. He should have been given the page (actually, Brisbane never should have fired Rich Hood, who should also be on this list) instead of using the position as an affirmative action hire for Miriam Pepper. Winn saw text. He didn’t care what you wrote, but it had to be well written and grammatically correct. Pepper is a narrow-minded, authoritarian ideologue.

    Let me also reinforce the comment about support staff. I worked with three different copy editors and they were all excellent. the time was also made more pleasant by Rich Hood’s secretary Trudy Hurley and the woman who edited the letters to the editor (I apologize for not remembering her name.)

    People who treat The Star as a monolith are wrong. Owing to its size and location, The Star is/was able to employ a wide range of very talented people who could have taken this paper to any heights. The true crime of its management is they failed to allow them to do so and much of that trend came during Art Brisbane’s tenure as publisher.

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