The Kansas City Star laid off 10 newsroom employees on Tuesday, McClatchy Company spokeswoman Jeanne Segal confirmed. McClatchy operates 30 daily newspapers across the country, including the Star.
An internal memo sent to employees by the Star's vice president and editor Mike Fannin and managing editor Greg Farmer stated that "top editors in Kansas City, Fort Worth, Belleville and Wichita have been meeting to figure out how to work together better in McClatchy's Midwest region." According to the memo, there are more than 200 journalists working for McClatchy in the region, in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas. But that "we can do more to realize the future faster."
The memo goes on to announce a restructuring, with regional teams focused on five areas: audience growth, high impact journalism, real-time news, video production and future areas of cooperation.
The reorganization would require "new or revised roles for staff members in every Midwest newsroom." This includes "painful reductions."
To date, KCUR has confirmed pop writer Tim Finn; photographers Allison Long and David Pulliam; enterprise reporter David Frese; and editors Tod Palmer, Greg Branson, and Michelle Smith, among the layoffs. Assistant managing editor Keith Chrostowski, who's worked for the paper since 1975, is taking retirement.
On a public Facebook group for current and former Star staffers, Long posted, "Today the Star is laying off people. Sadly, I'm one of them. Some of the best people I know work at the Star. I will miss them."
Last week, McClatchy announced a similar restructuring for newspapers across the West, with nearly 30 layoffs including 15 at the Sacramento Bee. In first quarter earnings reports, the company reported a net loss of $38.9 million. But digital subscriptions were up 33 percent from a year ago to 112,000, and the news sites got a 13 percent boost over last quarter in "average monthly unique visitors."
The Star's Fannin and Farmer planned to host two meetings Tuesday afternoon with Star employees to discuss upcoming changes.
"Progress is never easy, but we see a lot of compelling evidence of the impact we are having every day on the communities we serve," the Star's memo concluded. "And we have a responsibility to those readers and to the businesses we all love to keep moving forward."
Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.