Columbia Journalism Review Eviscerates OC Register for Its Lapdog Coverage of Angels Stadium Controversy

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The shine of Aaron Kushner-led Orange County Register continues to lose its, um, shine, as national media watchers pay attention to what we've been saying from the beginning: Despite hiring hundreds of reporters, fattening the paper and doubling down on the future of dailies as a viable industry, the end result is little better than what the Register used to be -- a booster paper for the rich with little-to-no actual news.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in the paper's coverage of your Anaheim Angels, specifically the controversy surrounding owner Arte Moreno's efforts to become a welfare queen via a new stadium lease. The first reporting on the subject, by Anaheim beat reporter Art Marroquin, was little better than regurgitated press releases, in the grand Reg tradition. But when the truth emerged about what Anaheim officials proposed -- a giveaway of Miami Marlins proportions -- the Reg fell flat on its face.

That's the conclusion of a brutal takedown by the Columbia Journalism Review, which details how both the Register and the Los Angeles Times botched the story from the get-go. Reporter John Mecklin saves his ire for Marroquin, whom we feel sorry for as he's a new-ish reporter who wants to make waves but has to deal with the reality that he works for a foppish paper like the Register who only wants him to write shiny, happy coverage. Marroquin lamely tried to defend his work by saying the Register now has him and veteran reporters Martin Wiskol and Sarah Tully (a longtime Anaheim reporter who now mostly covers Disneyland) on the story, a development that only further indicts Marroquin's shitty coverage. Son, the Anaheim Stadium imbroglio is the stuff that young reporters make their reputation on. That the Reg is putting other reporters on it just shows you fucked up good.

But the Reg person who came off the worst, unsurprisingly, is Kushner. When Mecklin tried to get an interview with Register editor Ken Brusic, he got a response from Minister of Communication Eric Morgan, who gave Mecklin the usual mealy mouthed bullshit he gives all reporters looking for a quote. This shows that Kushner has installed a hierarchy of communication at the paper in regards to outside media; anyone contacted for a quote must go through Morgan. And when Mecklin asked Morgan to put him in contact with Kushner . . . nothing. Ain't THAT a groove?

Email: garellano@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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17 comments
18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

I wonder if the OC Register ever looked into why the California Highway Patrol was playing pop up harassment games with me in front of their company headquarters as we passed by via the 5 freeway northbound/southbound. Precisely around the time I begin leaving comments here on OCWeekly webpage.

Oh wait a minute that's right. Because they knew that i was going to write about their illegal clown show. I already uploaded 5 hours of video to my YouTube account. I still have it marked private because i need to add place markers near the OC Register stunt segments. I don't expect anyone to actually watch five hours of my wife and I traveling from one end of OC to another never seeing any cop car next to us and then like Magic out pops a CHP lemming near their office. Aka what stupid cops do with surveillance state tools behind the backs of the American people.

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

No, it was definitely evisceration, but nice try!

shannonru
shannonru

What really sux is that the Register reporters get paid 3 times what an OCWeekly writer makes. What's up with that?

gregdiamond1
gregdiamond1

"Son"?  You call Art Marroquin "son"?

Sonny, don't do that.  It makes you look even more like a twerp.

Tom Graves
Tom Graves

As much as OC Weekly would like to "eviscerate" the Register's image, CJR did nothing of the sort. Usage of "eviscerates" might win an award for misguided hyperbole as well as jargon. Eschew obfuscation, please. Try putting clarity above smugness.

Greg Ridge
Greg Ridge

Agreed. But I would be cautious thinking that you are all "that".

tmgraf
tmgraf

The Register scooped everyone several years ago with the discovery that Anaheim Stadium was rat infested because clean up crews didn't show up after games, but did their work the next day. They shot great photos of one fan who brought a "rally rat" to a game. Ticked off everyone in Angels management, who of course, preferred a puff piece policy. But it was news and it was true. And Anaheim Stadium literally cleaned up its act. 

Team Leader Tom Gordon spearheaded that coverage with the fine work of reporter Gwen Driscoll.

As a former Register reporter and editor, I saw multiple times an approach where more seasoned reporters were brought in to cover stories on beats that younger reporters were on. It can be demoralizing. But in many cases it's the best way to serve readers. I've also seen seasoned reporters and editors coach new reporters behind the scenes when stories on their beats got hot. While I was there, team leaders had the discretion to make those decisions and I doubt if that has changed much with the new ownership.

Tom Graves

mwisckol
mwisckol

I'll point out that CJR had kind words for my first story scrutinizing the lease deal, on Nov. 3. They apparently hadn't seen my story on Nov. 11. I had a third front page story on the issue today. - Martin Wisckol, Orange County Register

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

"...a booster paper for the rich with little-to-no actual news..."

"...regurgitated press releases, in the grand Reg tradition..."  



But the best line of all wasn't meant to be funny:

"...a longtime Anaheim reporter who now mostly covers Disneyland."

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

I'm sure if you ask nicely, the NSA would let you see it a priori.

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@tmgraf  

I remember the Angels Stadium rat story and it was great.  

Now, if the Register will only do something about the rats in the paper's ownership suite.  

 

gregdiamond1
gregdiamond1

@mwisckol   Hmmm, let's check this out:

"
With news that the Atlanta Braves have been lured away from Turner Field for a new stadium in the suburbs, itbecomes easier to imagine a similar scenario for the Angels.

But there are at least two key differences that make an Angels move far less likely.

First, the Braves found a generous patron in Cobb County, which has reportedly offered $450 million in public financing to help build a new stadium. Hundreds of millions in public funding for a new stadium ..."

The funny thing is that, in this analogy, Orange County IS the equivalent of Georgia's Cobb County!

(Looking forward to finishing the story in about 150 hours, Martin!)

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@JBinOC HA! Sarah's a good gal, but I don't envy her job AT ALL...

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@GustavoArellano @JBinOC  

The best line RSM ever wrote -- and that's saying a lot -- was about the Reg on June 11, 2012:

"...the paper's management will eagerly send, by their own admission, more than 100 staffers...to cover a terribly critical news event, such as new attractions at Disney's California Adventure."

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