If Aaron Kushner Has His Way, Monday Will Leave OC Register W/Less Reporters Than When He Bought It: UPDATE

aaron_kushner_pied_piper.jpg
As Kushner sings, "La la lalalala la lala la la"
See the third page of this post for more information on the coming Register furloughs, layoffs, and buyouts...

ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 3, 10:24 A.M.: The wheels are coming off Aaron Kushner's grand experiment with the Orange County Register--and fast. On Friday, the Orange County Business Journal broke the story that Kushner's Long Beach Register daily would turn into a weekly. Today, we can report the cuts are even more severe: mandatory two-week furloughs effective immediately through June and July at the OC Register, layoffs in the sales department (called a "restructuring"), and the offering of voluntary severance packages to reporters.

UH-OH...

"Doing so will not be easy and will impact all of us, but it is necessary to ensure a strong and healthy future for our newspapers," Kushner wrote in a companywide email obtained by the Weekly. "Critics will try to say that we have failed. To the contrary, the failure would be if we did not try at all, or if in our measured success we did not adapt so that we could continue to invest in our growth."

More--much more--as this story develops...and remember, Register employees: anonymity guaranteed. Bring on those tips!

1ST UPDATE, JUNE 3, 1:49 P.M. The Weekly just obtained a memo sent out to its reporters today that's Kushner manifested: patronizing, demoralizing, smarmy, and just overall weak-sauce.

Among the highlights:

*An explanation that furloughs are sometimes called "unpaid leave or time off without pay." Um, DUH...
*A justification that furloughs "provides the immediate savings benefit we were seeking"--you know, before the axe falls again.
*Kushner claims that sales are up--but expenses are through the roof. Hence, the layoffs.
*During the furlough, reporters are barred from checking their work email, phones, notes--everything.
*To make it up to everyone, Kushner will provide "counseling, local community resources and financial counseling." Just buy everyone off with Maker's Mark...and now, the memo!


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74 comments
Dweezle
Dweezle

A news agency eliminating reporters is like a trucking company dumping drivers. A paper makes money off classifieds & advertising if there is no good news coverage no one will see the ads, so, you die. Cut off your nose to spite your face. 

But I read the Register as often as I shop at Walmart, (I refuse to walk into a slavemart store for any reason)

I get my news from the OC Weekly, Voice of OC, and a few other sources.

NancyMolina
NancyMolina

Why does the Weekly which is like 5 pages thick now and slowly dying continue to celebrate that other reporters are losing their jobs, careers and way to make a living? Are you that bitter? How is this sarcasm constructive at all? You are on a sinking ship as well and everyone knows it but isn't dancing on your grave.

Coyote625
Coyote625

Stop the presses. Kushner proclaims "we are growing." If slashing your content dept nearly 33%, scaling back the Long Beach Register to a once a week newspaper, deep discounting advertising rates, implementing mandatory furloughs and selling off the land the Register occupies are signs of growth then, Katy bar the door!

Hopefully
Hopefully

DaVinciP2P maybe the owners should do a quick prep tool along with the top heavy management that probably hasn't met a customer in years!

Coyote625
Coyote625

@Hopefully management is top heavy with senior managers who are clueless & the company's $1million plus investment in Genuine Sales training is a big joke!

Hopefully
Hopefully

Prediction... they will be in a chapter 11 by end of year.  Hopefully, Cox or Gannett will pick it up and bring it back to where it belongs...a voice for Orange County...not the east coast with people that don't know anything about the business or this community.  Who ever heard of a furlough?  That's just saying we can't make payroll.  Perhaps they should take a furlough...a long one. 

Hopefully
Hopefully

Hopefully, the owners of the OC Register will admit to fault.  The people that work for them are hard working, decent people.  The owners are hard working business people.  Their intent is and always has been to make money.  They aren't interested in employing good talent.  More interested in making them money.  If they want to cut costs, perhaps Aaron Kushner shouldn't be living in the Islands Hotel which the company pays for.  Better yet, lose the VP's - that will save them another million a year.

Leia Smith
Leia Smith

I noticed that the OCR is using voice of OC as a reporters- are they outsourcing their reporting?

beenthere
beenthere

Anybody who has been in a room with Aaron knows that his ego is bigger than his ability to run a business.  His arrogance and need to do things his way without any objectivity have cost a lot of people jobs.  Pride comes before the fall.

StuckInReality
StuckInReality

Informed sources say the head of finance for Freedom quit on Monday. The layoffs started Tuesday. Maybe the hard financial realities clashed with Aaron's financial fantasies?

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

Everyone reading this -- even the accomplished Charles Lam and LP Hastings -- is old enough to know that when someone rolls out the line "the failure would be if we did not try at all," it means one thing -- we failed.  We embarrassingly failed.  And we're too delusional to acknowledge it.


All I want to know is, where's the toll free number for the 'Reader Assistance Program,' i.e., the one for those despondent after enduring the lame 'journalism' purveyed by the Register?  Why is it, for example, that when the Reg covers a car accident in OC, the photo gallery will include a dozen photos of an overturned car, shot from different angles and zoom levels...and nothing more?  And why is it that the LA Times and OC Weekly are smart enough never to do that? 



I think I said this once before, but never did I ever think I'd wish for Gannett to swoop in and take over the local daily.  They might actually improve the product, as incredible as that sounds. 



Steve Ballmer, can you spare another few million?  David Geffen?  Oprah?  Buy the Register...keep Brad Johnson...get rid of Nancy Luna and everyone of that ilk...do a deep, multi-part expose on all the local 'Saddleback Churches'...and put a partially-topless woman on the front page every other day.  There'll be hope for the future of OC if you do. 

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

I've exclusively obtained the original draft of Kushner's memo [deleted parts in bold]:



"If you participate in the Freedom Communications 401(k) Retirement Plan, no participant contributions will be made during your unpaid furlough - you know, sort of like when the company stopped matching contributions after we took over.

"Inquires about unemployment insurance should be directed to the EDD - something many of you will have to do anyway in about 3 weeks, thanks to our clueless mismanagement." 


Naomi M. Anderson
Naomi M. Anderson

It's sad when anyone loses their job, or their employment hours. I've read the OCR for years. Nothing like a newspaper on a Sunday morning. But I, too, get my news from the internet. Newspapers have value, IMHO. It might be more localized information about your area, the weekly ads, coupons, and community resources. Perhaps the OCR needs to reinvent itself into a modern day media outlet?!

JustAnObserver
JustAnObserver

I admire Kushner's vision of providing a source for in depth coverage and commentary on regional and local issues. The investment in hiring real journalists and publishing more than 3 paragraph stories in OCR was a real treat.  What amazes me though is his blatant disregard and naivety of understanding digital and broadcast media channels. As if to say, I've cracked the code on how to make newspapers profitable. Hey Aaron, it's 2014 NOT 1914!

concepcionimmaculada
concepcionimmaculada

They can't completely get rid of actual printed newspapers! 


What will my dog pee on if they do!? She's been trained to use her dog version of  a litter box with newspaper in the bottom for years now - that way she can pee when I'm away at work and I don't have to worry about any accidents in the house! Of course, since she pees on the printed stuff I read the news online, and it's not as though she can pee on that as a substitute!

Robert Robert
Robert Robert

Our Town, We Love Moreno Valley newspaper JulieAnn Stewart-Cleaveland

OobopShabam
OobopShabam

The urgency of the furloughs suggests a concern about not being able to make payroll in the coming weeks.

Mark Warrick
Mark Warrick

theres a really simple solution to this: stop printing and be an online only paper. make sure it works on every modern device and oh yeah, take down the pay wall you fools!

nycinoc
nycinoc

The Great Pay Wall's been crumbling for some time. Kushner's been living in a black & white Pleasantville dream world.  Instead of embracing technology, he shunned it. 

I'm sure there's a publication run by the Amish with a Gutenberg Press who could benefit from his vision. 

joedantoni1412
joedantoni1412

Maybe Kushner needs to chill, check out www.rubmaps.com

I don't know.  I can enjoy his effort. 

JF Mmonnttess
JF Mmonnttess

It has NOTHING to do with schadenfreude! Differentiating is a useful skill. If anything regular employees should be grateful for the red flag so they can start looking elsewhere.

JF Mmonnttess
JF Mmonnttess

Oh wow what a bunch of thieves !!!! Is that even ethical? That ship is collapsing. I feel bad for the regular employees.

Mark Warrick
Mark Warrick

What a wussy move. Just lay them off, shut the doors and be done with it! Putting somebody on furlough limits their ability to get another job and collect unemployment benefits

Ruben Alvarez
Ruben Alvarez

I guess the new and improved business model Kushner instituted are not working to the detriment of many hard working people.

Ryan Steele
Ryan Steele

Is it not time to pull the plug on printed media? There are implications that seem scary, but we are always afraid of change. Nobody misses the public telephone booth.

Josh Wisenbaker
Josh Wisenbaker

I'm surprised any newspapers are still around to be honest. I still read them, but on the Internet

Eugene W Fields
Eugene W Fields

An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind. The slow, but seemingly inevitable desmise of OCR is a blow to journalism, both here in Orange County, but nationwide. In addition to The Weekly, OCR served as a watchdog. Competition is good and healthy. I found that out as a sports reporter after the LA Times pulled out of OC.

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

Better than wishing that one of your rival reporters die of AIDS, as what one of your former bosses told our Mox...

Coyote625
Coyote625

Arellano's tenacity and persistence in providing "the community" a glimpse into King Kushner's alleged financial wizardry, brilliantly showcases the function of a good journalist. Surely we can agree on shining the light on King Kushner's proclamation of his business strategies.

Writers generate NO revenue for any daily newspaper . Your written word means nada if the presses don't roll and subscription and ad revenues don't steadily stream in. Many good employees have had their professional careers disrupted by the Stanford & MIT boys.

Taking a cheap shot at the OCWeekly merely marginalizes your post. I have read nothing about massive layoffs, furloughs or buyouts at the OC Weekly.

Arellano's reporting is not personal. He's informing "the community" the publisher of the OC Register is failing at his compact with the community.

Bravo to those who are sticking their necks out and providing Gustavo with the shady facts about the Kushner/Spitz business strategies.

The Register is in a spiral downfall. It is not growing.

The atmosphere at 625 is funerial.

NotSoHopeful
NotSoHopeful

@Hopefully As Beenthere eluded before, this is someone's ego trip. The ivy league schooling only seems to have produced a sense of entitlement not the skills needed to run a company. He has surrounded himself with the chosen that spend their time affirming his fantasies instead of providing the hard financial facts needed to avoid things like layoffs and furloughs. Aaron doesn't lead; he reigns. This is his monarchy and everyone is less worthy than him. There is no doubt that you work for, not with, AK.

A mix of Putin like arrogance, Napoleonistic dominance, and a plain ol' batshit craziness of Louis II, there is no compassion for the people he is putting on the street or the people who can't make their rent because they're going to lose two week's pay (minimum).

Dweezle
Dweezle

Interesting comment. I have noticed the change in Voice of OC. Articles are less critical, less reporting & more fluff. and many names I do not recognize.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@beenthere Tell us more... garellano at ocweekly dot com. Anonymity guaranteed!

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@JBinOC Per your last paragraph...*cough* *cough* our ears are burning!

MatthewTCoker
MatthewTCoker topcommenter

"Print is dead."

-Dr. Egon Spengler, June 8, 1984

Brainwashed_in_church
Brainwashed_in_church topcommenter

I'm all for that but make sure you have Ad Block Plus installed because ads are the only way they'd make money.


20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

I do.  2600Hz.


Brainwashed_in_church
Brainwashed_in_church topcommenter

I was wondering what happened to the OC component of the LA Times. It seems to have disappeared after the Times transitioned to its new (terrible, annoying, confusing, mind of its own) format.

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@NotSoHopeful 

"A mix of Putin like arrogance, Napoleonistic dominance, and a plain ol' batshit craziness of Louis II, there is no compassion for the people he is putting on the street or the people who can't make their rent because they're going to lose two week's pay (minimum)."

So, so true  

 

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