Multiple sources forwarded me a curious thing last night: Orange County Register editor-in-chief Rob Curley has begun blogging again, after a break of nearly a year and a half. And it’s not just any type of writing: Curley is essentially rewriting his four-year Register career (two as the head guy) just before OC’s paper of record goes on the auction block next month.
“This is going to be fun,” Curley wrote in his inaugural post, published yesterday and titled after Adele’s “Hello.”
Or at least therapeutic. We’ll be talking about what it’s been like to work at The Orange County Register over the last three or four years, what we’ve been up to in our newsroom and how we built a stealthy digital strategy with old computers, older servers and an online team that basically had to be built from scratch. That’s how you do it when you have no budget and are trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again after a previous publisher decided to focus solely on print.
And he goes on like that, especially in his subsequent post, tellingly titled, “After Abandoning the Web, The Orange County Register is Focused on a Digital Do-Over.” Both posts can be summed up as followed: Former Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner was a moron supreme, and Rob Curley is an Internet newspaper genius who shouldn’t get fired. I mean, really: in the second post, Curley tracks his career from Kansas hayseed through his controversial past as a wunderkind who kept bouncing from newspaper job to job to him ending up in Orange County and getting ready to unleash the digital-newsroom revolution—again!
“I can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on,” Curley concludes. “And I can’t wait to tell you about the great people at The Register who built it all.”
All of it comes off as a guy desperately trying to justify his place at the top, and the vision he’s tried to implement at the paper. And Curley has reason to be concerned: while current publisher Rich Mirman is a fan and plans to submit a bid for Freedom Communications (the Reg’s parent company) next month in bankruptcy court, Curley’s future isn’t secure if Digital First Media (parent company of the LA Daily News and Long Beach Press-Telegram) submits the winning bid. And heaven forbid Tribune Publishing, owners of the Los Angeles Times get their hands on the Register—that would unleash a bloodletting at Grand Street that would rival the Red Wedding.
“Curley’s worried,” says a source at the Register who requested anonymity. “Not just for his job, but for the future of the paper itself.”
No shame in your game, Rob: You should’ve seen the shuck-and-jive I did when I first met the new boss.