Kansas City Star publisher and professional optimist Mark Zieman could be leaving his current post for a job at corporate, according to media blogger John Landsberg, who's pretty clued in to the happenings at the city's major daily. Landsberg says Zieman may be named vice president of operations at the McClatchy Co., the Star's owner.
If true, Zieman would follow the path of Art Brisbane, the former Star editor and publisher who became an executive at Knight Ridder. McClatchy bought the Star and other newspapers from Knight Ridder in 2006, back in the day when print-media companies sold for more than $1.
Zieman's reign as publisher will be remembered for the unrelenting rounds of layoffs that he announced. In reduction-in-force memos to his staff, Zieman often stated his hope for better days ahead. Should the sun ever peek over the horizon, Zieman may be in Sacramento, McClatchy's base of operations, when it happens.
Rumor of Zieman's move to headquarters prompted McClatchy Watch, a Twitter account maintained by a former Sacramento Bee employee, to recall the decisions that Zieman made in regard to his wife, Rhonda Chriss Lokeman, a former Star columnist.
In 2008, then Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser cited the Zieman-Lokeman relationship when he faced criticism about the public role that his wife, Gloria Squitiro, had taken in his administration.
The Star tried to insist that Zieman and Lokeman did not deal directly with each other in the workplace. When Zieman became publisher, for instance, Lokeman's columns appeared in the Star under the auspices of Creators Syndicate. But she remained, for all intents and purposes, a Star employee, because the Star was the largest and most regular consumer of her work. She stopped writing the column for Creators at the end of 2008.
On January 1, 2009, Lokeman was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. The Star was slow to report the arrest, a delay that Derek Donovan, the paper's reader's rep, attributed to a lack of knowledge. Donovan wrote on Febuary 3:
Most media don't find out about traffic stops and arrests of notable people unless someone tips them off. That didn't happen here until this morning.Feeling devious, The Pitch asked the police for video of Lokeman's arrest.