[UPDATED] Kansas City Star lays off reporter Karen Dillon, winner of last year’s who-gets-laid-off? ‘game’

Last December, the Kansas City Star told reporters Karen Dillon and Dawn Bormann that one of them had to leave the paper, and they β€” not management β€” should decide who goes.

From Dillon's Facebook page

From Dillon’s Facebook page

Bormann ended up leaving, but Dillon (left) is gone now, too. The investigative reporter posted on her Facebook page that her last day was Oct. 20.

“Why would the Kansas City Star ax an award winning journalist?” asks KC Confidential’s Hearne Christopher Jr. “As in, the Karen Dillon. The Karen Dillon who famously brought down the career of peep show perve Pee Wee Herman in 1991.” (She covered Paul Reubens’ indecent exposure arrest in 1991 while at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.)

Update – Karen Dillon points me to her Facebook post:

I’ve spent the last 48 hours trying to make sense of what has happened.karen For five years I’ve watched as my colleagues were led to the gallows one by one. We started with about 100 reporters on the metro/state desk. Now there are only about 18 left.

The golden era of government reporting that for decades provided an added protection for our public from bad or corrupt governments has passed _ at least it has in Kansas City. Nothing could stop this. The role of a debt-leaden corporate newspaper is to paddle quietly in still waters always looking the other way and always protecting the corporation, not its readers.

There’s more.

* Why did the Star fire Karen Dillon (kcconfidential.com)
* Earlier: Kansas City Star tells reporters to decide who goes (jimromenesko.com)

For those not on Facebook, I’ve posted her full message after the jump.

I want to thank everyone for all the overwhelming support and wonderful comments I’ve received since I was told Monday that my job had been eliminated, including those from you who found my hiding-in-plain-sight page.

I’ve spent the last 48 hours trying to make sense of what has happened. For five years I’ve watched as my colleagues were led to the gallows one by one. We started with about 100 reporters on the metro/state desk. Now there are only about 18 left.

The golden era of government reporting that for decades provided an added protection for our public from bad or corrupt governments has passed _ at least it has in Kansas City.

Nothing could stop this. The role of a debt-leaden corporate newspaper is to paddle quietly in still waters always looking the other way and always protecting the corporation, not its readers.

At odds with this is the government reporter with a crusader’s heart whose will is to dive into rushing, uncharted waters. Armed only with facts, these reporters make waves, facing down bristling government officials, mad-as-hell police chiefs and silver-tongued attorneys.

For many of us, our jobs were unlike any other jobs, and never was it work. Digging through mountains of documents for that needle and finding sources whose revelations could bring down corrupt officials or provide enough embarrassment to right wrongs was our sustenance.

We could never get our fill and lived it 24/7. To steal from H.L. Mencken, β€œIt really (was) the life of kings.”

The past five years, the layoffs exacted a terrible toll on the many who were forced to leave, and for those who remained. I can never get out of my mind one early morning as a mass layoff began, I saw my good friend Mike Rice being led off by an executioner. The look in his eyes…The feeling of helplessness that washed over me…

The world has changed a lot in five years. There are new opportunities. Mike Rice became a paralegal and now works at a top law firm.

My grief will pass. I’ve always been a survivor. I will find work.

But what has been lost to the public will not soon if ever be replaced.


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