Insiders Take Potshots at Freedom Communications

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Author, sociologist and working-class advocate Barbara Ehrenreich recently spoke about being confronted by a foe who accused her of engaging in class warfare, to which Ehrenreich responded that's absolutely true but her side in not the one that started the war.

Who knew class-warfare skirmishes could be erupting in the libertarian-built halls of the Orange County Register and its Irvine-based parent company, Freedom Communications?

A Navel Gazing post from three weeks ago about mixed-messages employees received at the financially troubled Register continues to generate some interesting comments from apparent insiders.
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To recap, newsroom employees reeling from diminished 401Ks, a freeze on raises and increased workloads brought on by a company initiative to boost its web presence were not exactly cheered up when publisher Terry Horne (right) huddled them together to say that "sometimes, life isn't fair," cost-cutting strategies would remain in effect for at least another year and everyone had to work to increase visits to ocregister.com.

Horne's reverse rah-rahing was not appreciated by some who's read on the company's intranet about a February "Celebration of Success" breakfast at a tony Newport Coast resort for advertising salespeople and executives. Gifts were distributed, and 18 lucky "Publisher's Council" honorees were informed they'd be jetting off to all-expenses paid trips to Maui.

Early commenters to the post defended incentives for the employees who generate revenue for the Register and the writers who create the content that generates advertising interest. But more recent comments from March 24 and today take potshots at the Irvine-based, Register-parent Freedom Communications.

"R.C. Hoiles" is not really the long-deceased Santa Ana Register founder but "an ad gal" from another Freedom paper. "The sales incentive trips are not for the sales people but for the suits that tag along and use them as free junkets," she writes. "We recently went to the Bahamas and there were more than 40 suits there who did nothing to win the trips."

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She calls Freedom "hypocritical and corrupt" and wonders how their corporate president and CEO Scott N. Flanders (left), who supposedly earns $5 million, can be exempt from mandatory 

employee furloughs that will "save" $3.8 million in wages.

A "Toni" gets more personal this morning, accusing Hoiles family mebers of having "sold out for money," and adding, "Having Flanders as a leader is like having Homer Simpson run the power plant. . . . He couldnt get a job anyplace else." Under Flanders, who was hailed as a savior for the troubled media company, "Toni" says Freedom has become "a joke."

Our Albert Ching confirmed the corporate-wide implementation of furloughs on March 20, but it was first presented in Navel Gazing as a rumor swirling around the Register offices on March 12. The latter post that also drew some heat directed at top Freedom executives.

"Fred" wonders, "if part of the cutbacks will be the senior executives at Freedom corportate who have company cars and an executive medical reimbursement plan for themselves and family members?"

"Jonni" supposes, "Flanders wouldn't dream of taking one for the team and go on a furlough."

And "R.C. Hoiles" is back to inform, "Flanders is exempt from the furloughs due to his contract language. How nice for little Scotty boy. His Bentleys are safe."

On behalf of everyone here at Navel Gazing, I would like to extend the offer for any Register or Freedom employees to use or blog to vent about anything on their minds.

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