So you know how Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner drones on and on about how his vision for the paper is to be local, local, local? Then he bought the Riverside Press-Enterprise, spun off Long Beach and Los Angeles editions of the Reg, and began infesting the pages of the mothership with content that was of no relevance to OC readers whatsoever? All the while insisting that he had, in fact, bolstered the bones of Grand Street by hiring a shitload of reporters…that he then shipped off to other points? Remember all that?
Well, Kushner has now swung back to his commitment to localism…by syndicating the content of a competitor: the Voice of OC, a nonprofit online publication that has just sold out any indie cred it had built up by becoming Kushner's useful idiot.
Details of the arrangement aren't yet known, but Voice of OC editor Norberto Santana (a former Register reporter) has been spotted meeting with Register editor Rob Curley at the Reg's offices. No official announcement has been made, but the Register ran two Voice of OC pieces on their website this morning, none with bylines and only one noting that it was a Voice of OC piece; the Voice of OC, meanwhile, ran those same two stories without indicating they're letting the Reg use them, as well.
I'm sure both Kushner and Santana will justify the agreement as a simple syndication deal on both ends, just like how the Reg and most dailies buy stories from the Associated Press. And Santana might even make the argument that this will just give more exposure to his publication, which, while doing good work, is mostly read only by a hardcore few who relish inside-baseball stories about OC politics, or people who love to read journalism dictated by grants. But the only winner in all this is Kushner. The Voice of OC loses by entering into an agreement with their competitor, a competitor they have wonderfully exposed as a hater of journalism ethics in the past–wish I could be the fly in the wall in Kushner's office next time the Voice of OC ever do a story like that, if they ever bother with that beat again. Register readers lose out by allowing Kushner to pass off sloppy seconds to them, all the while as he insists he's giving them a superior product…by using a competitor. The Reg newsroom loses out, as this syndication deal amounts to a vote of no confidence by Kushner and Curley, and an indication that any future hires won't go to the investigations team–so much for any commitment to actual hard news!
And, finally: Norberto, coño, what the hell are you thinking? Kushner better be underwriting the Voice of OC at this point to justify you working with el sucio…