When Aaron Kushner took over as publisher earlier this summer, he promised to fill the Orange County Register with content from new full-time film and dining reviewers and a Los Angeles Dodgers beat reporter. Now the Boston bean counter is talking about filling even more newsroom desks abandoned in recent years due to layoffs, early retirements and voluntary departures as the daily struggled with online competition and dwindling ad revenues and circulation. He also pricks up the ears of a certain alternative newsweekly with promises of a new Orange County weekly.
Kushner mentions all this in a recent memo to Register staffers that also boasts of recruiting bodies for the business section, an investigative team, the auto beat, the copy desk, the graphics department, data reporting, coverage of Sacramento and a beefed-up newsroom internship program.
All of which, of course, flies in the face of what's happened and still happening at newspaper ghost towns around the country.
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So did anyone take the new publisher aside and say, "Uh . . . Kushy . . . did we ever mention to you our short-lived weekly Squeeze OC? Or the shorter-lived OC Post?" The side-of-the-building banners for those OC flops should still be in the Grand Avenue basement. Or maybe they were made into a broach, or rolled into handmade cigars by Mickadeit or burned to heat the newsroom .
Here's that memo (hat tip to Jim Romenesko):
Thank you for taking the time to attend our associate Town Hall. [Freedom President] Eric [Spitz] and I are very excited about the future of the Register, and we hope you left the meeting with a clearer understanding of our priorities and the specific actions we are taking to create more value for our subscribers and our community.
As discussed, our executive team is actively evaluating every opportunity to increase the resources we can devote to adding value for our subscribers. Thank you for your patience as we consolidate IT under Mike Hunsche so we have a unified team, and as we realign our advertising operations under Mike Burns to similar effect. ...
We already have 23 new positions approved for hiring in our Content group, in addition to a significantly expanded internship program. Ken Brusic is leading our recruiting efforts with our strong deputy editors and team leaders. We are the Orange County Register and are looking for talent with our level of skill, commitment and teamwork. If you have friends and colleagues who you believe can help us grow please share the opportunity with them.
We have a number of areas we have not yet finished evaluating for growth but among those already approved for hiring are the business section, investigative team, auto, restaurant and movie criticism, sports, copy editing, graphics, data reporting and Sacramento reporting.
Finally, we talked about some of the new content initiatives we have approved for launch including adding a weekly magazine in addition to our monthly Coast and creating a full daily business section to cover the Orange County community. I can't wait to see them take form as vibrant parts of the Register.
Thank you again for the inspiring and engaging work you do every day. We look forward to growing the Orange County Register together!