Kansas City Star tells two reporters to decide which one gets laid off

THE LATEST: “I would strongly caution any organization from insourcing layoff decisions to the employees,” Bob Kelleher, CEO of The Employee Engagement Group, tells NBCNews.com. “There’s a reason why they pay people in leadership positions more than they pay their direct reports.”


The Kansas City Star has told reporters Karen Dillon and Dawn Bormann that one of them has to leave the paper, and they — not management — have to decide who goes.

“Dillon has seniority, so she has the option of taking it or not taking it,” says a KCConfidential.com source. “And if she does, Dawn gets laid off. Dawn’s a great person but I think Karen will vote in favor of herself because she’s got teenage kids at home.”

I emailed the two reporters and editor Mike Fannin to confirm this process. Dillon did — I haven’t heard back from Fannin and Bormann — and tells Romenesko readers that “we’ve not made an official decision” on who gets to stay. “It’s one of the most difficult situations I’ve ever faced.” (KCConfidental.com now reports Bormann is out. I’ve asked Dillon to confirm this.)

UPDATE: I’m told that Fannin isn’t in the newsroom today. I’ve emailed and left a phone message for publisher Mi-Ai Parrish. UPDATE II: I made a second call to Parrish’s office and was told by her secretary that the publisher is “not available” to speak to me.

Fun fact: It was Dillon who first reported Paul Reubens’ 1991 arrest at a porn theater. From a Rolling Stone story: “An able young reporter named Karen Dillon, working the three-to-midnight shift at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, recognized Paul Reubens’s name on the police blotter and broke the story.” That tidbit is included in Dillon’s LinkedIn bio. (Here’s Dillon’s August 1991 follow-up story on the arrest.)

* Star unleashes “Hunger Games” on two reporters (kcconfidential.com)
* Star lets veteran employees determine who stays (bottomlinecom.com)
* Read the reactions from my Facebook friends and subscribers (facebook.com)