Should newsrooms operate on the star system? Well, they do. So maybe the better question is, how does a newsroom create a star system that doesn't snuff out fresh talent, reward editor's pets, or excuse lazy editing?
One way is to remember that the quality of the stars generally reflects the qualities favored by the editors. Steven A. Smith offers his list of 10 qualities that make a star journalist: heart, intellectual curiosity, fearlessness, fear, patience, skepticism, a less-than-empathetic personality, adaptability, quiet leadership and disrespect of authority.
Smith expounds on each. It's worth a read.