The Kansas City Star continued the long slow process of slimming down its newsroom this week. The McClatchy paper bought out three writers with a combined 100 years at the paper. Diane Stafford, Scott Cannon, and Donna McGuire were handed their walking papers recently, KCUR reports.
The staff buyouts are part of a McClatchy initiative known as “newsroom reinvention.” As part of the initiative, Star reporter beats are changing. The crime beat will now be know as “courts uncovered,” and the education beat is now “raising Kansas City.” The changes are surely designed to stop the financial hemorrhaging.
Over the summer, McClatchy, the Star’s parent company, lost more than $37 million. Its stock is now worth less than half of what it was worth a year ago. It dropped almost 60 percent between July 2016 and July 2017. Investors have to dig deeper than the Star’s pages to learn the truth about McClatchy’s falling value.
McClatchy, which also owns the Wichita Eagle, sold the Star press pavilion in July as part of a buy and leaseback deal with R2 Capital. Opened in 2006 and constructed for nearly $199 million, it was listed for $42 million, though the Star itself never reported on the sale. McClatchy also sold the Star’s headquarters. It is set to be redeveloped for commercial and residential use.
According to McClatchy’s earnings report, the newspaper chain, which includes papers in Charlotte, North Carolina; Miami, and Sacramento, California; grew digital subscribers, reduced operating expenses and reduced principal debt.
The growth in digital readers may be one reason the McClatchy newsroom reinvention will place added emphasis on the digital space.
“Reporters will also be judged on how well their stories perform online, with great emphasis given to search engine optimization to drive digital traffic,” KCUR reports.
Will it be enough to stop the bleeding? Stay tuned.