Here's the List of OC Register Reporters Who are Taking a Buyout or Getting Laid Off: UPDATED
Reg reporters: Do you have faith in this man?
Photo by Kevin Liu
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.
Now the list, in the order we get confirmation. Note: some of the early names were laid off before the layoffs were even announced, meaning there's a LOT of problems with Kushner's financials:
Sandy Coronilla, graphics reporter: Her layoff happened before the buyout. From Twitter:
Since some are questioning me already, I'm no longer w O.C. Register. No hard feelings at all - best experience ever http://t.co/I34iCOuSo0
— Sandy Coronilla (@SandyCoro) June 3, 2014
Laura Olson, Sacramento reporter: Only hired in November.
Not clear if she was laid off orShe left on her own accord to take her next gig: she's already headed to the Allentown Morning Call--and you know Kushner's enterprise is in trouble when folks are leaving to pinche Allentown. From Twitter:
Signing off as @ocregister's Sacramento reporter. It's been fun, California! Any recommendations for a hashtag for my cross-country drive?
— Laura Olson (@lauraolson) June 5, 2014
TJ Simers, sports columnist: This one's a shocker. The longtime Los Angeles Times columnist jumped ship to Grand Street in September, one of Kushner's high-priced free agents that his Minister of Information, Eric Morgan, so loved to proclaim--and now, he's gone. His column explaining his rationale for the buyout is here.
Bruce Chambers, staff photographer: A longtimer. From Facebook:
Keith Sharon, staff writer: Another longtimer, and one of two reporters (the other being Tom Berg) that the Register would usually assign their attempts at literary journalism to. From Facebook:
Kevin Sablan, business columnist: Sablan also tweeted a lot for the paper. From Twitter:
— Kevin Sablan (@ksablan) June 9, 2014
Jessica Peralta, web content at Coast Magazine, the Reg's luxury rag: Peralta was also part of the ill-fated Squeeze OC.
Greg Hardesty, features writer: This one is particularly crushing to the newsroom--Hardesty's lifestyle stories frequently made national news, and he was a beloved presence in the newsroom. A journalism presence in Orange County since his days at UC Irvine's New University back in the 1980s. Julie Gallego, fashion editor:: Longtime Register editor who was tasked with the paper's new standalone Fashion section, a section Kushner is now eliminating. Her send-off might be the best of them all:
Samantha Dunn, features writer: One of the Register's much-ballyhooed new hires from last year.
Ann Haley, OCRegister.com editor: Has been at the paper since 1981.
Mark Whicker, sports columnist:: Another longtimer--I don't remember a Register without him-long. If Whicker leaves, that leaves the sports section with only Jeff Miller as a regular columnist.
Roxanne Hack, community editor: With the paper since 1999.
And now, the graphics department! Yep: nearly the entire crew took the buyout. And the names...
*Molly Zisk: Been with the paper nearly 20 years.
*Fred Matamoros: Only been with the paper since January 2013. His thoughts then? "It feels good to join a publication with such a pure, focused direction and hope for print journalism."
With the paper since at least 2011 Been with the Reg since 1993, starting as a news assistant. In the graphics department since 2000.
*Scott Brown: Since at least 2012.
*Maxwell Henderson: LinkedIn says he was with the Register since the fall of 2012, making him part of the Kushner hiring spree.
*Ben Wener, music critic: Man, Wener's been a critic there since I was in high school. I'll let our music editor Nate give an overview of his career, but after the jump is his long farewell--and let's just say the adiós matches up with the typical Ben Wener story I've grown to read in a second.
From Ben Wener:
If you know anything of the Orange County Register, you're likely aware what it's been going through this month: reported payroll problems, too much expansion and not enough dough, and now mandatory two-week furloughs for all, unless you are among the 75 or so folks, predominantly seasoned pros, who have voluntarily taken a 10- to 20-week severance package.
I am one of those people. After 20 years at the Register, my time as chief critic and de facto music editor is coming to an end.
I started at my home county paper in September '94, uncaring about its right-wing-or-worse reputation because the news stories never read so red to me, and anyway, I was fresh out of a delayed J-school education and wanted a job. In a matter of months I went from news assistant to rudimentary page designer, back in those formative digital days. Not long after, former Reg critic and (at that time) music editor Cary Darling and I spent an afternoon virtual-chatting about Prefab Sprout. I told him I wanted to be a critic. Later that day he shoved two CDs in my hand, saying, "Show me what you can do with these." Couple days later I filed my first professionally published record reviews: Collective Soul's self-titled second album (still blech) and Juliana Hatfield's Only Everything (still not bad).
That was early '95. By that summer, I had become a go-to contributor, and though I was quite green, I (over) wrote relentlessly about everything from Supergrass to Seven Mary Three, befriending not only Cary but then-critic Mark Brown along the way. Both took a shine to me, enabling me to launch my career with an overload of assignments and allowing me to tag along to other shows so I could further my education. And when the time came for Mark to return to his beloved Denver at the start of '97 to make the most of the dot-com bubble, he and my other mentor put in crucial words with the powers-that-be ... and lo and behold, I became the Register's full-time pop critic. First official assignment: U2's PopMart Tour opener in Las Vegas, April '97.
It's been an incredible run since then, filled with (my best estimate) more than 3,000 shows and scads of interviews with virtually everyone I've ever wanted to chat with: David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Page & Jack White, Paul Simon (and Art Garfunkel, who was compelled to tell me Jessica Alba has nice tits), David Byrne, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Ray Davies, Beck, Roger Daltrey, Trent Reznor, Iggy Pop, Paul Weller, Damon Albarn, Chrissie Hynde, Joe Strummer, Yoko Ono, Ozzy Osbourne, Norah Jones, Al Green, Robbie Robertson, Rod Stewart, Sting, Chuck D, Robert Smith, Chris Martin, Andy Partridge, Common, Wayne Coyne, Donald Fagen, Randy Newman, Jeff Lynne, the late great Arthur Lee (batshit crazy at that point), Paul Stanley, Ben Folds, Butch Vig, Frank Black, Josh Homme (frankest ever), Dave Gahan, Noel Gallagher, Nick Cave, Peter Buck, Jonny Greenwood, Johnny Marr, John Mayer, Bryan Ferry, Joey Ramone, John Lydon, Justin Timberlake when he was still with 'N Sync ...
I once had an interview with Lou Reed lined up, and now I regret that it never happened. My list of those I wish I'd somehow gotten is short: Dylan, Prince, Springsteen, Madonna, any Rolling Stone, Elton or Billy, Tom Waits, Thom Yorke, Jay Z, Eminem. That I instead got to speak with Britney Spears, well, that's just how this job worked out sometimes.
I've seen amazing things - and I will see many, many more. This is hardly the end for me and I still intend to write copiously, both professionally and personally. (Friends, colleagues and future employers, going forward you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My end date has yet to be determined, but it will be within this coming week.) Also, don't be surprised to see my byline back in the Register's pages before too long, just with a contributor's tag. That said, it's the right time for me to get out and embark on the next phase of my career.
As one who doesn't exactly believe in blessings, I nonetheless know what it means to feel profoundly blessed. It's a dark time for the Register, no matter how my soon-to-be-ex-employers try to spin it. And yet I feel like I'm walking tall into golden opportunities. Stay tuned.
In closing, there is a long list of people to thank profusely for having helped me get this far, not only champions like Cary and Mark, Helayne Perry (who, along with Robin Loveman, originally hired me) and Robin Doussard, but also my longtime editor Jeff S. Miller (my shield against corporate interference, without whom I'd never have had the freedom to write as I do) and a deep pool of writers, including "Desert Jeff" Miller, Kelli Skye Fadroski, Peter Larsen, Robert Kinsler, George Paul, David Hall, Philip Cosores, Niyaz Pirani, Ramon Gonzales, Martha Ramirez ... I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but you know who you are.
My biggest wishes to all of you for a brighter tomorrow. See you at the next show.
Eugene Garcia, photographer: Hired full-time in 1999, shortly after winning the Robert F. Kennedy Photojournalism Award for the paper during a one-year temporary hire.
Carol Priest, senior copy editor: With the paper in various capacities for the past 25 years.
Cindy O'Dell, senior online editor: Worked at the Irvine World News for 20 years until 2004, at which point began moving up the Reg ranks.
Barry Koltnow, entertainment reporter: With the paper for 35 years; his farewell column is here.
Theresa Cisneros, community editor: Currently editor of the weekly Santa Ana Register; before that, wrote wildly popular Latino-themed blog that Kushner stupidly killed.Sources say Cisneros, while initially interested in the buyout, chose not to go through with it. We wish the best to her...
Even more names after the jump...
OC Register website already going to hell...
MaryAnn Milborn, business reporter:: Longtime business reporter for the Register; in recent years, served as Kushner's stenographer.
Paul Danison, community papers editor: With the paper since 1995.
Chris Knap, politics and watchdog editor: Just got this one this morning--a surprise. With the paper for at least 25 years, two-time Pulitzer finalist. Was always a better wine columnist that investigative reporter, though.
Ian Hamilton, technology reporter:
No idea on how long he was with the Reg for five years.
Jill Reed, photo editor: With the Reg since 2006.
Mike Schmoldt, wire editor: Been with the paper since 1995.
Gary Schnurr, sports designer:
Part of the new wave of hiring. Worked there before, left and came back. Also did news. "Hybrid and did a good job," a former colleague says.
Tom Berg, reporter: Along with Sharon, what constituted the Register's literary journalism base. With the paper since forever.
Lori Basheda, reporter: Yet another long-timer. Beloved presence in the newsroom.
Jebb Harris, photographer: With the Register for 30 years--damn...
Sharon Henry, visual columnist: I've always loved her whimsical infographics. With the Reg from 1998 to 2007, left the paper during an era of cuts, returned last year...and is gone.
Jennifer Wang, reporter: With the Register only since July, and one of the reporters who moved up to the Los Angeles Register.
Marcia Prouse, Assistant Managing Editor/Visuals and A-1: With the paper since 1997.
Michael Doss, librarian: Been with the Register in various capacities over the years for at least a decade, if not more.
Pat Brennan, science reporter: One of those bylines I've been reading at the Reg seemingly all my life. Another popular presence in the newsroom.
And now, almost the entirety of the copy desk!
Nikki Batalis: Worked from 1994 to 1997 full-time, then part-time for a couple of years before leaving, then returning at the beginning of 2013. "I know (the newspaper) matters to people," she told Minister of Information Eric Morgan. "I constantly hear about the paper - what we are covering well and what we're not - from my neighbors, fellow parents on sports teams, book club, and other places. I know we make a difference. I am also excited by the renewed energy in the newsroom with the influx of new reporters, artists and editors."
Paul Davenport: Since at least 2007.
Brad Wright: No info at this time.
Tom Schmitz: No info at this time.
Jack Mulkey, senior copy editor: Hired in October 2012.
Chris Woldt: Hailed as a new hire in January 2013.
Steve Barrie: With the paper only since last fall.
Now, back to other people:
Jessica Terrell, reporter: Last with the Los Angeles Register.
Adam Maya, high school reporter: Covered high school sports for a couple of years, if memory serves me correct.
Bernard Wolfson, reporter: A longtime Register reporter who left, then was coaxed back...and is now leaving again.Not leaving. Thank God, as he's a good one.
Bill Diepenbrock, editor of some sorts: With the paper at least a decade.
David Birdwell, copy desk: Another newish hire. 40 years of newspaper experience, hired in April 2013 to do Focus pages and national/international when needed. Did world and state wires since the last round of cuts in January. Was national/foreign editor at The Seattle Times when laid off in August 2012 after 13 years with the paper.
Scott Martindale, Costa Mesa reporter: Been with the paper for a while, but not a longtimer.
Vik Jolly, courts reporter: With the paper since the late 1990s. No big loss.
Can you stand it? Because there's more after the jump...
Lou Ponsi, Fullerton reporter: From Facebook:
Ponsi is staying after all. Nice man.
Chris Bayee, senior sports copy editor:
With the paper since the fall of 2012.Another previous employee who left and came back.
Kelli Hart, community editor: With the paper since 2008.
Cerise Valenzuela, community editor: Reporter for the Register from 1990 to 1992, coaxed back last June to become a community engagement editor.
Rod Veal, photographer: No info at this time.
Cindy McNatt, Home and Garden editor: Huge loss--been there since forever.
Shannon Buonsanti, news system specialist: Since 2000.
Chris Long, sports copy editor:
No information at this time. Been there well over a decade.From his comment below:
I will overlook the fact that my name has been posted here without my permission. I guess it doesn't really matter anymore. On Saturday I will reach the end of my 44-year newspaper career. It started in 1970 at the Santa Monica Evening Outlook (my hometown paper) as a reporter and copyeditor. It included 25 years at the Outlook and Daily Breeze (after a merger). I came to OCR as a copyeditor on the sports desk in 1996 and stayed 5 months. I was sent away and spent 14 months at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. When a more competent sports editor took control at the OCR, I was called back in 1997 for an 18-year stint on the sports desk that concludes Saturday.
Two statements by Aaron Kushner stand out from early town hall meetings. After being asked how he can succeed when most other newspapers are failing, he said, "We (he and Spitz) are smarter than they are." The other statement was, "You can't cut your way to success." Now, he is doing what all the guys he's smarter than have done.
I am 62 and am looking forward to not working anymore.
Landon Hall, health reporter: Since 2009.
Mike Kirkendall, page designer: Barely a year after coming from the Los Angeles Times.
Nick Brennan, community editor: Originally with the Reg from 2000 to 2008, left, then returned last summer.
Brooke Edwards Staggs, reporter: Another new hire gone.
Kathleen Luppi, reporter: With the paper for a couple of years.
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