This blog is mainly about the spectacular train wreck at The Sacramento Bee and its parent company, the McClatchy Company. But I also post about current events, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, politics, anything else that grabs my attention. Take a look around this blog, hope you enjoy it.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
"Director of Strategic Development" at the Kansas City Star bails
Randy Smith, Director of Strategic Development at the Kansas City Star, will leave the Star tomorrow, according to a memo released today. Details here.
He apparently gave it several weeks ago...they just chose to announce it today.
"Ar" least he's sticking with journalism teaching. I've never met the man but he can't be criticized for choosing to do something like this "ar" this point in his career.
Isn't this the guy that they promoted for hatchet duty?
He might be, and given the reactions on Bottomline he certainly wasn't well liked at the paper, but I think Mike Fannin is also one of the axemen. Perhaps some of our Star insiders can confirm, or deny.
Yes, before the first round of layoffs in June 2008, Randy Smith was moved from the editor in charge of local news to the newsroom hatchetman. Every reporter and editor that was laid off suffered the indignity of having to meet with him in a small room and be told that their firing had nothing to do with their performance. Perhaps, but it certainly had to do with how Randy felt about those persons. If he didn't like you before the layoffs were mandated, you were a dead duck. Smith is an insincere worm and his move to this position of prominence should sicken every credible journalist.
But what do you really think? No mincing words now, please.
I was once told in grad school that the cream always rises to the top, but I reminded the professor that it's also true that shit floats.
LOL, I was always told that the cream rises to the top, but so does the scum.
I'll never forget remembering that little gem while looking around the news room at my interview with the Houston Chronicle. Right after being informed of exactly what I better believe in.
Man they're really turning Columbia into a home for the incompetent and dishonest.
First they have a "distinguished" Professor Emeritus Plagiarist in charge of Ethics and fired when he is caught, then they hire the disgraced CEO that single handedly drove Sprint into the dirt, now this.
I am surprised that Rhonda Lokeman isn't a tenured Professor of Creative Ripple Critique.
It's true that Randy Smith is a terrible newspaper person, an ass-covering manager who will sell a reporter down the river at a moment's notice when he thinks it's necessary for his own survival. But let's not let off the hook the people who allowed him to assume positions of authority for which he was not only unqualified, but destructive (hold your applause): Art Brisbane, Mark Zieman, Monroe Dodd, Steve Shirk.
Smith was a mediocre assistant city editor obsessed with lists and process instead of newsgathering. He was appointed Business Editor, which got him away from the city desk. The ass-kissing, corporate-friendly ways of the business desk better suited Smith's temperament and he was able to write a weekly column to feed his ego. When Brisbane was unexpectedly and inexplicably named editor of the paper, he pegged Smith to run the metro desk. Of the terrible and muddle- headed decisions Brisbane made at The Star, this is the one he will have to answer for at the gates of hell. (Also on the list: making Zieman managing editor and making Miriam Pepper editorial page chief). Smith returned to the Metro Desk in triumph, barely concealing his desire to seek revenge on those who disrespected and dismissed him in his previous stint on the city desk. For the next 15 years, Smith either chased competent journalists off the metro desk or out of The Star altogether. He held grudges, played favorites, and doled on promotions based on who would be as cowardly as unprofessional as he was. Journalistic talent and experience? That was in most cases a drawback because it led one to question Smith and his misguided approach to management.
It's fair to say no one could have prevented the collapse of the advertising market and the subsequent layoffs at The Star. But Smith certainly had a hand in sapping the soul from the paper, and in that respect, it was a dead man walking long before the layoffs began.
There are too many of that type in McC newsrooms.
Who were his favorites? Who did he hate? Name names!
Okay wiseguy or wise gal, you asked for it.
The most famous victim of Randy Smith is probably Randell Beck. Randy Smith didn't think Randell was good enough to be anything higher than an assistant city editor. Well, Randell is now publisher of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader where he has led the paper to numerous awards and an impeccable reputation as the voice of South Dakota. Randell also is on the 19-member Pulitzer Prize selection committee. Eat that Randy!
Randy demoted great reporters like John North, Mike Kennedy and Rick Alm. And there are numerous others that left the paper in large part because of him and the people who he put in positions of power, such as Melissa Berg. I'm sure that there are many others who were thrown into the scrapheap by this pompous ass.
Brisbane also fired Rich Hood the previous editorial page editor at The Star. Unlike Pepper who's essentially an affirmative action baby, Hood was a 29 year veteran with the Star and an experienced investigative reporter. Hood was a writer's editor and far more competent than Brisbane who was little more than the lawn jockey at the River Club. In that sense Brisbane mimicked his namesake who also spewed leftist platitudes out of his mouth while playing the butt boy for a corrupt establishment.
Under Brisbane The Star became little more than a lackey for KCMO's corrupt establishment (which George Magazine ranked as one of the Top Ten corrupt cities in the country. Zieman has perpetuated that tradition).
Ironically, Hood is now a well paid EPA official in Kansas City where he has the last laugh as those who crapped on him are now struggling to keep head above water (and Brisbane is a "consultant", or as most of us call it, unemployed).
Alm was demoted out of Wyandotte County where he was an outstanding and ballsy investigative reporter. Brisbane replaced him with castrated wimps who wouldn't say shit if they had a mouthful (and there are big mouthfuls they're swallowing in WYCO).
As in KCMO and Johnson County, The Star plays a significant role in perpetuating corruption in WYCO.
Looks like Smith "strategically" did all the damage he could do and then cut and ran. And yes, Fanin also is part of the Grim Reaper group. The Star is so screwed up that I don't know how it will ever climb out of the mucky muck. The people still there are there because they have to be ... and are not loyal McClatchyites. They just need some semblance of a paycheck. I mean, the current job market is as bleak as I've ever seen. If they could get out, they would. Hang in there staffers. And use your furlough time to try and line something up for the next round of cuts. Because you KNOW they are coming.
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