Part of the Orange County Register's much-ballyhooed campaign to save journalism is a "trainee" program--instead of hiring a kid out of college full-time and throwing them into city council meetings, they're now paying them $10 an hour without benefits (until six months) and stacking them four to a two-bedroom apartment (in Irvine, no doubt). It wasn't a bad gig if you could get it, especially the last part given the O.C. rental market is notoriously tricky.
But the wheels are slowly falling off owner Aaron Kushner's gravy train. Last month, the Los Angeles Times revealed he's no longer matching contributions to an employee's 401k retirement fund; now, media website Romenesko reports the Reg will stop housing its cub reporters and send them off to the OC wilderness with a $750 monthly housing stipend.
What Romenesko didn't report, though, is how little $750 a month gets you in the OC housing market.
As someone who knows the rental market all too well, as both the proud owner of a P.O. Box in Anacrime and a former apartment manager, those poor Reg kids will be lucky to rent a garage in SanTana if they want to live on their own at $750 a month. Two of them together, at $1,500 a month, barely scrapes by a respectable one-bedroom most anywhere in OC. Maybe if they pile up like sardines, as they currently are, they might find someplace nice in Orange County--but since Daddy Kushner ain't doing the renting for them, they're now going to have to compete with everyone else, in a market that keeps getting higher and higher.
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Register social media guru Rob Curley, of course, justified the move to Romenesko, Orwellian-ly replying, "We're not changing our program, just fine tuning how we are implementing it." In other words: "The money spigot is slowly drying up. Let our young wards move to Long Beach or Stanton." Fun times!
(P.S., hey, Register Romenesko source: why not come to us, first? Did we burn you one too many times? Typical thin-skinned Reggie-er...)