Talk about continuing the youth movement at The Kansas City Star.
The woman who will become the new publisher later this month is 40.
She succeeds Mark Zieman, who was 47 when he was named publisher three years ago.
And…Mike Fannin, the editor, is only 44.
The new publisher of the McClatchy-owned paper is Mi-Ai, Parrish, who has been publisher of the company-owned Idaho Statesman since July 2006.
Parrish, whose first name is pronounced MEE-uh, had been deputy managing editor for features and visuals at the Minneapolis Star Tribune before being tapped for the Idaho post.
I sure hope that Parrish works out, and I wish her the very best. But putting a 40-year-old person with five years of publishing experience — especially small-market experience — looks like a rather big roll of the dice to me.
On the plus side, reporter Mark Davis reports in a story on The Star’s website that Parrish led the Statesman’s effort to “transform and diversify business operations, introduce new print and digital products, grow digital traffic and revenue while improving the core newspaper and enhancing its reputation for quality journalism.”
This year, for example, the Statesman rolled out a new product called Business Insider, a weekly business-to-business magazine. And in 2008, the Statesman was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in the breaking news category for its coverage of events triggered by the men’s room arrest of former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig in Minneapolis.
But look at some statistics.
The Star has an average Monday-Friday circulation of 210,000 and a Sunday circulation of about 300,000. By comparison, the Statesman, in Boise, has an average weekday circulation of about 50,000 and Sunday circulation of about 73,000. (Sunday circulation has been up slightly the last two years, while daily circulation has declined each of the last four years.)
So, The Star is about four times larger than the Statesman. That’s quite a jump.
Parrish also will be tested right off the bat with her choices for top managers. Among other things, she’ll have to decide whether to keep vice presidents such as Editor Mike Fannin and advertising executive Tim Doty in place.
On the digital side, her youth should work to her advantage because that appears to be where the future lies for newspapers. But her youth could work against her on the personnel side, unless she gets some very good advisers.
On that front, my recommendation would be that, in the newsroom, she turn to long-time managing editor Steve Shirk, a tried and true leader at The Star for more than 35 years.
Steve’s an old guy — about 60. He’s got the wisdom and the temperament to help a new publisher make a safe jump from a small pond into the churning waters of the Lake of the Ozarks.