Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Mine Shaft collapses in KC

Welcome to the KC Star!

It's hard to jump on the bandwagon of people slamming The Star for the next round in cuts, layoffs, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I still have friends there who toil away until the midnight hours working their less-than-famous beats (We can't all be overpaid sports columnists).

However, it is easy to jump on the What-the-Fuck-was-Zieman-thinking bandwagon — especially after remembering the all-newsroom meeting he held that left some of the reporters all in a general state of agitation and confusion back in the day.

I blogged about this back in 2007 when I experienced my first big newsroom meeting about cuts and such. At the time, Zieman was just the executive editor and was trying to reassure us, his flock of reporters, that everything was going to be OK.

He did this by saying that working for the paper of record in KC was like working in a collapsed Mineshaft where we were all stuck and could potentially die.

...wow, I feel bolstered about the indusrty already...but bear with me, he had an overhead and a dry erase marker to demostrate what he was saying.

The "rescue crew," which was a metaphor or euphemism or something for the Internet, was going to save us all! HUZZAH! But, in the meantime, we will just need to hold our breaths a little longer until they arrive and endure some cuts, oxygen poisioning and possibly dysentary.

He made references to the fact that people won't make it and would not survive the coming stick-figure Internet rescue squad, but eventually we would all persevere.

Additionally he added that "We need to be as concerned about reader penetration as McDonald's is about hamburger penetration."

Um, what, boss? I can only hope that this general state of confusion and bewliderment is what is leading that fine institution.

But this tale of dying miner reporters and how Quilt Books would save the KC Star did not stay within the confines of our newsroom meeting. No, from what I heard a year later from other reporters, Zieman was taking his story of Minshaft snuff and sharing it as a motivation point to other newspaper editors around the country.

Well, looks like everyone in the business got a taste of the KC Kool-aide.

The internets are on their way.


Hyperblogal said...

Very appropriate analogy methinks since everyone at the STAR is getting the shaft one way or another.

Nick said...

pretty much describes what we hear -anonymously - from some of the folks who still work there.

and while we don't wish the Star ill, we would love to see the backside of Zieman...just don't see it happening, unfortunately.

Zieman is McClatchy's boy until the bitter end.

Anonymous said...

As a former Star reporter, I don't remember that meeting. I must have been off that day. Or maybe I just didn't attend.

What I do remember about that asshole Zieman is a comment he made when he was named publisher around the same time as this "mine shaft" meeting.

"Never has there been a more exciting time to work at The Kansas City Star," he said.

Uh yeah, right. I guess it's exciting if you get some kind of excitement over seeing veteran reporters and low-level editors losing their jobs. Maybe it's exciting if you like seeing the paper you work for shrink in size and hemmorage advertising revenue dollars and subscriptions like Joe Pesci's head in "Goodfellas".

But for the rest of us, it was not an exciting time to work at The Star. In fact, it was the worst time ever in our careers. I'm guessing that for the few journalists still working at The Star and waiting for that dreaded tap on the shoulder or Sunday night call from their AME, it's not a very exciting time either.

Anonymous said...

I'm mistaken. It sounds like this meeting was in late 2006, which would have been about a year before Zieman became publisher.

I also heard that Zieman held a newsroom meeting last week and was actually cracking jokes. What an insensitive asshole. I would have asked him in front of everyone whether it's really appropriate to crack jokes in front of a group of people who, for the past nine months, have spent every waking hour wondering not if but when they will be laid off and are wearing themselves down physically and mentally by having to do the jobs of multiple people. Such a reaction on my part is probably why I am not working there anymore, but it just infuriates me that this prick, who doesn't have to worry about his job, had the audacity to try to draw humor from a very bleak situation.

Anonymous said...

I remember that meeting quite well. I especially remember that his little presentation was a PowerPoint illustrated with stick figure drawings.
Truly, the Z-man was a multimedia master even then.