I’ve described newspaper executives as callow, stupid, misguided, incompetent and many other perjoratives, but apart from one billionaire tyrant, evil didn’t enter the picture. The this story started making the rounds yesterday. The executives at the Kansas City Star are making two reporters decide which of them gets laid off. This is appalling, and an abdication of an unpleasant but very real responsibility of leadership, as Steve Buttry noted.
But more than that, it seems downright evil. Nearly cartoonishly supervillian evil, to be precise.
(The Kansas City Star management team)
I doubt that they intended it to seem like a dramatic event played out for their amusement, but that is exactly how it seems. If you lay off people based on seniority, then do that. If you choose based on performance or usefulness of their beat, do that. But it’s up to the managers.
Stories like this make it really easy to understand why newspapers are failing. If the management doesn’t have the spine to make a difficult decision about personnel, how could they hope to lead an innovative news organization?