Just heard from Julio Moran, executive director at the CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California, that the Orange County Register has just laid off nine reporters, including Yvette Cabrera, who happens to be president of CCNMA. We'll see who the other reporters are, but none sting more–and none show how fundamentally fucked-up the Reg is, and what a dark future they face–than the axing of Cabrera.
I have a long, tortured relationship with Yvette. I was there at one of her first-ever assignments for the Reg, an activist at the time while she was covering the debacle that was Harald Martin trying to sue Mexico. She was new to Orange County, and was about to debut as the paper's Latino columnist, a move that would bring her acclaim–and more scorn than any reporter should ever have to face in their career, or any good person in their life.
Yvette was always kind to me, penning articles on various members of my family over the years. I, on the other hand, didn't return the favor, both as part of the Spy vs. Spy game that is the rivalry between the Reg and your favorite infernal rag, and because I always wanted her to be tougher, more radical, more of an Agustín Gurza than a feel-good columnist. Immaturity on my part, I can now say with a bit more years under my belt. But I always understood the importance of Yvette, of having a proud Latina voice at a newspaper in the belly of the Orange County beast–and on that note, I always supported her, even if I didn't always read her.
But because she was a Latina, Cabrera quickly became the most-loathed reporter in the history of the Register, her name becoming code among the Reg's troglodytic readers for a story that dared show Latinos as human beings–in other words, the most disgusting abomination since the election of Barack Obama. A simple story she might do about Latinos–say, a student going to college, or mothers organizing to get healthy–unleashed waves of nastiness better suited for the message boards of Stormfront, and that was just the stuff that was out in public. Who knows what private insults she suffered–yet all along, Cabrera suffered these indignities with class, never lashing out at critics, always keeping that same radiant smile.
When the Reg hired Cabrera, it was at the height of journalism–when every paper had token ethnic columnists who scored hefty salaries yet served an important purpose in documenting their communities in papers that never bothered covering said communities seriously. But once daily papers began their long, sad decline, those ethnic columnists became the first to go–remember when the Reg had Vietnamese columnists? Cabrera's Latino-only column was a victim as well, but at least the Reg let it transition into more of a human-interest beat a couple of years ago. That didn't stop the troglodytes from harassing her.
The Reg should've stuck by Cabrera, at the very least as a token of loyalty (I can name 20 reporters over at Grand Street, some with more years under their belt than her, that are less deserving of a job than Cabrera based on their shoddy journalism) and honestly because she served an important role–hell, she just did an award-winning piece for KCET-TV AND once appeared on Oprah. But now Yvette is gone, and the Reg has just decided to screw over Mexicans in Orange County yet again. They have effectively told the future of Orange County that they have no future in their paper, that their concerns don't matter because their shrinking, coffin-dodging, Know Nothing audience matters more–and they long wanted Cabrera out.
Sources tell the Weekly Cabrera recently had a conversation with Freedom Communications suits in which they assured her that the Reg's finances were hunky-dory–and then the layoff. But good news: they just didn't boot her out the building–they're going to let her return tomorrow or this evening to clean up her cubicle! Hurrah for benevolent bosses!
Vaya con Dios, Yvette. And when you're ready to dish on your moron ex-bosses and the assholes who tortured you so over the years, you know you have a home here…