OC Register Insiders on Expected Layoffs/Buyouts: "It's Going to be a Fucking Bloodbath"

aaron_kushner_pied_piper.jpg
The prophecy is fulfilled

Today, at 4 p.m., the full staff of the Orange County Register will march into the R.C. Hoiles Auditorium third-floor newsroom located at the paper's for-sale Grand Street offices to hear Aaron Kushner explain why he's suddenly instituting mandatory two-week furloughs and offering buyouts to a paper he continues to insist is financially fine. He'll no doubt use the same Stuart Smalley rationalization he loves to try and rally his troops as he's done before--but the troops are ready to frag the fucker.

Sources tell the Weekly that Kushner expected about 20 to 30 people to ask for buyouts but was floored when the number reached at least 50, with many of them among the biggest names in the newsroom (more on the departing in a bit). And even that might not be enough to avert layoffs. "It's going to be," as one source told the Weekly under condition of anonymity, "a fucking bloodbath."

According to multiple newsroom sources, reporters and editors were marched into editor Rob Curley's office last Tuesday, where he explained the furloughs and buyouts. Those offered it were only in the Reg's II, III, and IV in-house classifications for employees (the hierarchy was explained to me once, but I forgot it; I do remember that Class I were essentially glorified interns who made phone calls and gathered facts for veteran reporters). And those interested in a buyout must apply--but there's no guarantee they'll get it. "They didn't really explain what would happen if we are denied," a source said. "I don't think the owners expected that many people to apply."

"What we heard in our meetings is that they needed to let go of an undisclosed number of people--it's more about hitting a target dollar figure than a number of people," another said. "But rumor is anywhere from 20 to 100-plus."

As further proof that Kushner is financially strapped, even the buyout itself is not as generous as the buyout offered in January, when the Reg let go of about 30 people. Those let go earlier this year got three months of COBRA health insurance paid by the Register; this batch will have to pay out of pocket.

"He's lost the newsroom," a longtimer said. "No one has any faith in him at all. People want to get the hell out while they can."

The deadline for applying for the buyout is 10 p.m. tonight; decisions will be made at the end of the week. Those accepted must leave by June 20. And who's leaving? That's a whole other blog post that you can find here once you click this-here link...and remember, Kushner haters: keep sending along those tips. Anonymity guaranteed!

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

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14 comments
jimgilchrist
jimgilchrist

The demise of the Register proves once again that there is a GOD.  


I have claimed for years that the Register is just another piece of scrap in the junkyard of second-rate journalism.  Specifically, my beef was the blatant libeling propaganda conducted by the Register's commentary writer, Frank Mickadeit, who wrote at least six outrageously false stories essentially trying to con the public into thinking I was conducting some kind of criminal enterprises from within the Minuteman Project.  


Peculiarly, these fantasies were written and published after the Minuteman Project sued one of Mickadeit's friends for various torts.  Those law suits were won repeatedly in Superior Court.  I also proved in court every single one of Mickadeit's lies as the ugly propaganda they were, much to his disappointment.


Mickadeit is a delusional fool commonly known to violate the most elementary cannons of professional journalism.  Hopefully, he is not representative of most writers on the Register staff.


Good riddance to DIRTY JOURNALIST Frank Mickadeit.  Welcome L. A. Times; a newspaper that maintains a much higher caliber of professionalism in the newspaper industry.


Jim Gilchrist, Founder and President, The Minuteman Project

Eugene W Fields
Eugene W Fields

^^I agree with the "buffet" approach. At the end of the day, those changes - while important to readers - don't affect the bottom line. The paywall drove readers away, but as I previously posted, there wasn't much revenue coming from that stream.

JF Mmonnttess
JF Mmonnttess

They should also listen to their subscribers and act on it. Look at Yelp: most people complain about the different prices people are paying for their subscriptions. Subscribers should be able to buy online only and not force to take both. This would expand their circulation potentially outside the state. NY Times did it right.

JF Mmonnttess
JF Mmonnttess

Print market is too small. Its a dumb idea to want to head in the opposite direction of technology. Only magazines have some life left in them but never disconnected from the cyber tank.

bphood
bphood

Get with it or get gone...the market has spoken and I say good rid dense

Otis Denim
Otis Denim

I have heard that a Swaim (from your dark past!) will be in the mix by late summer . What do you hear ?

WideStance
WideStance

"And on your way home, could you grab the stack of papers by the door with your name on it, and deliver them to your neighbors? That  would really help out a lot!"

Eugene W Fields
Eugene W Fields

Print isn't dead, if done right. Kushner bought Freedom debt free and then made several mistakes: adding too many high-priced salaries, splurging on perks, and the most-costly: buying the Press Enterprise without the capital, forcing him to take a high-interest loan. People point at the paywall, but internet was only generating 15-20% of the revenue at the time he bought OCR. For a short time, the plan was working. Without the burden of the salaries + perks (like housing for fresh-out-of-college kids) & the albatross of the PE purchase, it WOULD have worked long term. Unfortunately for the 100+ people who will soon be without a job, Kushner built too much, too quickly and then went all in in order to cover his gamble. And he lost. And the workers are having to pay for it.

Remy Merriex
Remy Merriex

Print is dead unless it is an extraordinary publication. Not sure why this keeps being a surprise to the print industry.

Marc Plainguet
Marc Plainguet

I stopped getting the Register last year. It's a complete waste. Too one-sided.

Jennifer Canady
Jennifer Canady

This is why I ran as fast as I could, a little over a year ago! Saw this all coming. Plus, Kushner gave me the creeps!

ThingsYouShouldKnow
ThingsYouShouldKnow

loyalty is penalized. the longer term a subscriber you are, the more you pay. it is based on http://www.mathereconomics.com/. this company creates subscription models for everyone, that slowing increments your payments, whether cable or newspaper or anything else you subscribe to. its not just the register, there is an industry built around subscribing

Coyote625
Coyote625

@JF Mmonnttess ... Yes, the NY Times gets it right with their digital and print products. That's why King Kushner is allegedly considering a name change to Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr. The subscription rates range from $400 to $52 per year and it's well known rates are based on your zip code.

ocrstaff
ocrstaff

He was off the rails way before PE.  The cash flow has never existed based on their misunderstanding of how even the most fundamental principles of newspapers actually work. Audience is needed for those majors, Aaron. You do have control of it.

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