Well, as the late, great James Brown used to sing, ain't that a groove.
Just one day after unveiling the first part of an Orange County Register series on illegal immigration by sea, a series that will no doubt notch multiple awards and was viewed as many as the first step toward returning the Reg into a serious paper as promised by new owner Aaron Kushner, reporter Cindy Carcamo announced she was bailing for the Los Angeles Times to become a national correspondent.
And though she might spin it as a personal decision, it's the ultimate indictment of the Reg, past, present, and future.
Fact is, Carcamo was one of the few young reporters who stuck around the paper as long as she did, which was nearly a decade. Almost all of our peers, young men and women who started covering Orange County in the early part of last decade, are gone–off to better papers, higher-paying jobs, anything that would earn said reporters a modicum of respect and at least a token salary. Reg leadership in the editorial room–which hasn't changed much under Kushner and isn't expected to change–always favored dinosaurs over young talent, which meant said young talent was usually relegated to cover La Habra for years instead of graduating toward more prestigious roles.
Don't believe me? Here's just a sampling of young reporters who have left the Reg in the time that Carcamo spent with the paper–and these are just the ones I somewhat personally knew and can name without Google: Eleeza Agopian, Cindy Arora, Jennifer Muir, Blythe Bernhard, Niyaz Pirani (who now freelances for us–HA!), Katherine Nguyen, Jeff Overley, Ellyn Pak, Erica Perez, Zaheera Wahid, and that Mexican chick that wasn't Yvette Cabrera. Almost all of them have horror stories of cronyism inside the Reg's editorial room and terrible wages (even worse than those of the Weekly–and we pay in scrip).
Add those of a generation right before them or just a tad bit older in that time period–Bill Rams, Aldrin Brown, Cabrera, Minerva Canto, to name just a few–and you don't just have a brain drain; you have Cronos running Grand Avenue, ensuring his power never ceases by devouring the young. Add a troglodytic readership to ineffective editors, and no wonder so many young reporters have left and will continue to leave the Reg–the only miracle is that Carcamo stayed so long.
Carcamo always had aspirations for bigger things–I remember she once did some stories on cosmetic surgery in Argentina that was also funded by a grant–and I have no doubt she's going to truly make a name for herself at the Times, where the leadership, while not without its own problems, at least knows to keep most young talent happy. But how damning it is to the Reg that they couldn't keep Carcamo, especially at a time when they're hiring 25 new positions. Hey, Mr. Kushner: if you can't keep young guns like Carcamo happy, you're already condemning the Register to its continued pathetic state.