LA Register's Robin Williams Memorial Is . . . Unfortunate

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Oops

The Weekly's newsroom is mourning the death of Robin Williams. We grew up with him, whether it was with Mork and Mindy for the older staffers or Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, or Jumanji for the younguns. And then there's of course his amazing dramatic work. That being said, we most likely won't be publishing a farewell, seeing how many many others have already released very, very good ones.

But that didn't stop us from noticing something off about the LA Register's goodbye. I've attached the top of yesterday's LA Reg front page to the top of this post.

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Here's the List of OC Register Reporters Who are Taking a Buyout or Getting Laid Off: UPDATED

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Photo by Kevin Liu
Reg reporters: Do you have faith in this man?
Will be updated through June 20, if not beyond...

CURRENT COUNT: 66 gone.

ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 9, 8:03 A.M. The last time the Orange County Register announced massive layoffs, we had a running tally of who was getting the axe. That list topped out at about 31; the list expected this time might be significantly longer, so consider this the definitive go-to place to find all the names, which we'll post as we confirm until Monday, at which point we'll post them all. Feel free to add or correct in the comments. The names here are those who applied for the buyouts, per sources; it's not still clear if Reg owner Aaron Kushner will accept the buyouts--that's the subject of another post I'll write later.

A quick note on schadenfreude: While we have many enemies at the Reg, we also have many friends and people we admire there. Any glee we have in these layoffs is directed solely at Register owner Aaron Kushner, who deserves all the scorn on Earth for deciding to blindly lead hundreds of people off a cliff with his unfettered expansions instead of listening to those in the newsroom who urged cautious growth. Those folks who'll be losing their jobs, on the other hand, we feel for deeply--because there but for the grace of Camel cigarette ads and alt-medicine notices goes us.

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As His Reporters Prepare for Layoffs, OC Register Editor Rob Curley Goes to the Ballpark

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OC Register publicity photo
Curley: Likes Mickey Mouse
Orange County Register editor Rob Curley has never been popular in the newsroom, but he's less so this week, as the paper prepares for buyouts and layoffs that might reduce them by 100. But Curley is causing an uproar among reporters right now for fiddling while Rome burns--scratch that, for going to the ballpark and having a gay old time while his reporters float in agonizing limbo.

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Aaron Kushner Tries to Rally His Writers at the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Writers Un-Rallied

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As Kushner sings, "La la lalalala la lala la la"
Amidst the coming hara kiri of the Orange County Register next week, owner Aaron Kushner traveled to the IE yesterday to meet with staff of the Riverside Press Enterprise, the paper he acquired last November...only to lay off a bunch of people and install yes-men at the top.

He tried to reassure them that everything would be hunky-dory at the P-E--layoffs and buyouts aren't expected at the paper...yet. But, unsurprisingly, the P-E staff didn't believe a single word that came out of Kushner's mouth, and is already mocking him behind his back.

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

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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:

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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."


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EXCLUSIVE: Read Aaron Kushner's Secret PowerPoint Pitch to Investors to Save the OC Register

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Will those little cute papers be smiling on Monday?
At the beginning of December 2013, Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner was seemingly on top of his empire-building game.

Just a year and a half after acquiring Freedom Communications, the Boston businessman had completed the purchase of the Riverside Press-Enterprise, four months after having launched the daily Long Beach Register. Plans were in the works to launch yet another new daily - the Los Angeles Register, which would battle the Los Angeles Times in its own turf. Longtime Freedom community weeklies in Irvine and Newport Beach had been turned into dailies, and staffing at the Reg had ballooned to around 370, near the height of the paper's glory days in the 1990s.

Hiccups had occurred along the way--the P-E's previous owners, the A.H. Belo Corporation, had threatened not to go through with the sale after Kushner couldn't meet certain thresholds, and Freedom's previous owners had sued Kushner over allegations he owed them money. But Kushner was still riding a wave of positive national press for apparently doing the impossible: not only expanding a daily newspaper in a time of endless layoffs and budget cuts, but making it thrive.

Privately, though, Kushner was fretting.

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

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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...

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OC Register Inks Syndication Deal with Voice of OC In Desperate Bid to Remain Local, Investigate-y

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Kushner: Fluting toward...
So you know how Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner drones on and on about how his vision for the paper is to be local, local, local? Then he bought the Riverside Press-Enterprise, spun off Long Beach and Los Angeles editions of the Reg, and began infesting the pages of the mothership with content that was of no relevance to OC readers whatsoever? All the while insisting that he had, in fact, bolstered the bones of Grand Street by hiring a shitload of reporters...that he then shipped off to other points? Remember all that?

Well, Kushner has now swung back to his commitment to localism...by syndicating the content of a competitor: the Voice of OC, a nonprofit online publication that has just sold out any indie cred it had built up by becoming Kushner's useful idiot.

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Laid-Off OC Register Workers Respond to Aaron Kushner Calling Their Layoffs a "Reset"!

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Last Friday, sources and people affected let me know that the Orange County Register had just laid off people in their sales department, with figures ranging from a believable six to an unbelievable 70. So we went straight to the top: owner Aaron Kushner and his Minister of Information, Eric Morgan. To his credit, Kushner responded pretty quickly; to his discredit, he launched into full-on spin mode of the worst kind, the Orwellian Doublespeak that newspaper executives have made into a black art.

"We're hiring sales people right now- [sic] there were not 70 people laid off yesterday," Kushner wrote via email. "We reset a small part of our internal sales team as we grow our overall and field sales team."

Um, what? Man, I'd prefer Kushner say "Layoffs?" in the same tone former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora did years ago instead of his weak-ass response.

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