Aaron Kushner to OC Reg Staff: "Cannot" Guarantee Even More Layoffs Won't Come this Year

Stuart Kushner: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone: people'll like me even after I lay them off!"
So Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner tried to rally his troops yesterday during a townhall held at the Reg's third-floor newsroom. The occasion, of course, is an expected exodus of the newsroom--anywhere from 20 to 100 people--through a combination of severance packages and layoffs. Kushner, as usual, didn't offer a single specific stat to bolster his claims that these moves will lead to growth and that the Register is actually profitable, at one point even telling his newsroom that circulation figures for the Los Angeles Register are "private." DOUCHE CHILL...

The Weekly obtained a recording of the 45-minute question-and-answer session Kushner had with his team. The atmosphere was absolutely somber, with the only applause happening when a veteran thrashed Kushner, leading an audibly shaken Kushner to respond with a cracked and raised voice. We'll save that for later, and instead offer other highlights:

*Kushner on critics: "Everyone says our strategy has failed. Perhaps they should be saying that our strategy has not succeeded?"

*On whether circulation is growing for the Register: "That's a very nuanced question." He finally admitted--or claimed, really, since no one believes a single word that comes out of Kushner's mouth anymore--that Sunday circ is higher, but daily is lower.

*On the reason for the layoffs: They buy "our revenue teams even more time to find the ways that we [need] to grow at double digits. It maybe be that we never have a double digit year. That does not mean that we can't have a vibrant, growing profitable newspaper for a decade."

*On why not waiting to expand in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Riverside and beyond until there was sustainable growth: "It's a classic chicken and the egg," he replied. "You can't grow revenue by hoping for it, by wishing it. You have to actively invest in it, and that's what we plan to do."

*Eric Spitz, Freedom Communications president: The paper was "successful" on charging readers more for the paper, but "we have not seen the net new subscriber growth that we needed from that effort."

*Kushner: The Register's building is expected to sell, with a "long-term lease-back" in the future for the paper.

*On how long Kushner means when he says he expects "long-term" success for his company: "A...generation." Silence from the newsroom.

*On the severance package: Kusher said it was offered "so there was a choice" to reporters, and out "out of respect" to them. It'll cost them "a significant amount of money" but Kushner said that prospect was better than the "alternatives. We had two. One is to never had hired the people in the first place. Well, that sucks." Later, Kushner said "Im sorry for" the layoffs and buyouts, and that Spitz and him are "doing everything we can."

*On whether there'll be more layoffs this year: Kushner rephrased it as "changes in the structures of our team," then replied "I certainly hope not, but there's things I can guarantee and things I cannot."

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

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The "breaking news" is old news by the time the Register posts it online. The paper has really gone downhill.  Sorry for that since I've been a reader since the 70s. The OCR was once one of the county's largest employer. New mgmt is the downfall. The Press Enterprise and Press Telegram are also not as efficient either. OCWeekly has the detailed info on all news breaking stories and more.

Frank Acosta
Frank Acosta

Never, ever trust what a Bostonian says.... Plain and simple. Sad day for the employees of the Register, but sometimes good things come from bad.

Anthoni Le
Anthoni Le

I kinda grew up on The Register as a kid in the 80's. I have to admit that I'm saddened by the lack of support for The Register. It's seems an inevitable victim to culture, time, technology & the dislike for the owner. I'm coming up on my mid- 30's & I still get The Register in my driveway. But I don't always have the time to read it. However, when I do, there are alot of missed gems & insight. Wish there was a realistic balance we could have it all without losing everything.

fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

I like that picture of Stuart Smalley much better than the one of Aaron "Ferret Face" Kushner...LOL

JBinOC topcommenter

The "chicken and the egg" expansion strategy of Kushner and Spitz is one that even Nancy Luna would find distasteful -- and that's saying a lot, especially if she baked the biscuits involved. 

And, OK, Aaron, I'll say it in the way you want:
Your strategy has not succeeded -- you arrogant, delusional, ego-centric greedy bastard.


Enough of their elderly white customers have died now. Even Garbage Grove looks younger.

The younger more ethnically diverse crowd here doesn't buy their pie in the sky reporting. Their complete lack of coverage regarding the corruption in OC politics and policing finally caught up to them. The OC Register needs to understand that there are now enough victims of this criminal filth that their publication looks like a bad parody at this point.

Admit it and fix it and the OC Register could become the greatest paper around. I used to enjoy reading print newspapers back in the 70's.

JBinOC topcommenter

"On how long Kushner means when he says he expects "long-term" success for his company: "A...generation."  Silence from the newsroom." 


GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@20ftjesus People are understandably freaked out as fucked about being tracked, but I'm working my moles...

GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@JBinOC I wish I could play the audio, as it was REALLY awkward...

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