Have you ever seen your friend get their ass kicked, then had the attacker try to sidle up to you and buy you a drink before he kicks your ass? That’s exactly what’s going to happen this morning, when top executives with Digital First Media, the new owners of the Orange County Register, have scheduled an all-hands town hall at 9 a.m., a day after Digital First laid off more than 90 employees.
But it’s not going to be just any ol’ group of suits—the Digital First execs scheduled to address the Register (and later on this afternoon, the Riverside Press-Enterprise) represent a Murderer’s Row of media consolidation, attrition, and destruction. CEO Steve Rossi has had publishers quit on him since his early 2000s Knight Ridder days due to layoffs Rossi said he didn’t want to happen but nevertheless implemented. Sharon Ryan, executive vice president for Digital First’s western region, just announced that she was consolidating newspapers in the Bay Area while essentially shutting down the Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times—this, just a couple of years after Rossi presided over the selling-off of the Times‘ offices, an ignominy the Register has already had to suffer. And the going is so good at Digital First’s Southern California operations under president-publisher Ron Hasse that two of the three reporters responsible for the Torrance Daily Breeze’s (a Digital First paper) 2015 Pulitzer Prize have left journalism.
So keep the above in mind as you read Digital First’s dreck below. And Reg survivors: can one of ustedes record the town hall for me to hear? Anonymity guaranteed!
Digital First Media welcome note to Freedom employees
March 31, 2016 – Dear Colleagues: We want to be the first to welcome you to Digital First Media, the third largest newspaper group in the United States. Digital First manages a diverse portfolio of multi-platform news and information products that spans 15 states and includes 67 daily newspapers and approximately 190 non-daily publications serving over 45 million Americans each month.
DFM maintains some of the most trusted brands in the United States built on providing high- quality local journalism to its readers and effective print and digital solutions for its advertisers. We are proud to add the Orange County Register and Riverside Press-Enterprise to our family of leading local news providers.
DFM’s dynamic Southern California News Group is now the largest news content provider in the combined counties of Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino and will remain focused on providing the highest-quality local news coverage, digitally and in print. We have long admired the Register and Press-Enterprise for innovation and quality reporting, editing, design and photography and the ability to deliver targeted, solution-oriented messaging for advertisers.
The Register and Press-Enterprise mastheads, unique voices, and commitment to providing outstanding local news will remain unchanged. You have helped shape the identities of Orange and Riverside Counties to the world, while staying grounded in the kind of deeply local reporting that ensures an informed electorate and an engaged community. And we are committed to using our forward-thinking business practices to bring vitality and stability to Orange and Riverside Counties’ most important sources of information and news.
We believe you will be inspired by and serve as inspiration to the rest of your colleagues within the Southern California News Group. Together, we are a collection of some of the finest journalists and media professionals in the country. We are honored to uphold the values of local journalism and look forward to working with you.
Other than those employees who have already been contacted, all active Freedom employees (those who have worked at Freedom at least one day since March 1, 2016 through today) will be offered employment at Digital First Media effective April 1, 2016. Human Resources will be sending additional information later today detailing the next steps in the process of finalizing your employment with Digital First Media.
We will be on site Friday morning to meet with you. We will plan to meet with the Register staff at 9:00 a.m. in Santa Ana and with the Press-Enterprise staff in Riverside at 12:00 p.m. More details will follow.
We hope you are as excited as we are about the possibilities that the future holds.
Steve Rossi Chief Executive Officer Digital First Media
Sharon Ryan Executive Vice President DFM Western Region
Ron Hasse President/Publisher Southern California News Group