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

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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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