UPDATE #1, 5:20: The Weekly has obtained audio of the meeting in which it was announced that Kushner and Spitz were stepping down. Still trying to pin down Kushner's speech, but far more interesting for sure would be the words of his former co-owner, Eric Spitz, whose angst was audible as he rambled about Kushner's greatness.
Spitz is going to remain at Freedom Communications in a capacity, but is sure going to miss the Kush. "Not much happens without a dream," Spitz said, talking about Kushner, "and for something great to happen, there must be a great dream. Behind every great achievement is a dreamer of great dreams. Much more than a dreamer is required to bring it to reality, but the dream must be there first."
And he went on like that.
Spitz went on to praise Aaron Kushner's "vision," saying it was that that brought him and so many others to the paper, and that everyone owed Kushner for his vision. "I'd like to suggest to the rest of you that we take the balance of this week and think about what we are thankful to Aaron for," he said. One way to do it? "We all take it as an assignment–we're all writers…write Aaron a note. Tell him what you're thankful for…Thank you, Aaron"
He said this, mind you, with Kushner on stage.
Following Spitz was Reg publisher Rich Mirman, the man who replaced Kushner late last year. "The room's so quiet," Mirman cracked, drawing chuckles from the newsroom audience. "I hear you guys breathing. He talked for about four minutes, thanking Kushner and Spitz, and saying that in the next couple of weeks, "there'll be more to come: more information, more discussion." More layoffs? Mirman actually talks to me, so I've got an email out to him.
Very telling: There was no applause for Kushner or Spitz's remarks, applause for Mirman.
ORIGINAL POST, MARCH 10, 4:27 P.M. The Orange County Register's long nightmare is over. It was announced that Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz–owners of the paper and the men who spearheaded the purchase of parent company Freedom Communications in 2012 with the promise of saving the Reg and daily journalism in the process–have resigned from all executive duties at the paper effective immediately.
That sound you heard was the relieved sigh of the hundreds of people left on Grand Avenue, the hundreds laid off because of Kushner's hubris over his nearly three-year reign, and the hundreds of Reg alumni now worried about their pensions, in a story I was planning to write mañana and that I'll address tomorrow. In the meanwhile, the resignations.
Kushner made the announcement this afternoon, telling the newsroom "It has been a privilege and honor to serve as a leader of this institution," according to the Reg story filed by veteran writer Tom Berg. "Thank you for hard work, your patience and commitment to the Register."
More–much more–once I record my weekly ¡Ask a Mexican! video. In the meanwhile, folks interested in the whole sordid tale can read my 2012 synopsis of Kushner's ambitious strategy to make the paper viable by increasing page counts and hiring up, my 2014 autopsy of how Kushner's plan failed (hint: it was the Kush's fault), my interview with the man who replaced Kushner as the Register's publisher, Rich Mirman, and the many, many, many posts about the Kushner era in our Orange County Register Death Watch column.
May Mirman bring the stability the paper needs, and do what Kushner never did: pay attention to the right people. In the meanwhile, bring on the tips, sources! Anonymity guaranteed!
Wait…a special video message from the Reg offices addressed to Kushner!