From a media blog, here’s Register owner Aaron Kushner’s letter to his staff:
To all associates:
When we came to the Register some 18 months ago, we made an explicit commitment that we were going to take the challenges and opportunities head-on to put our newspaper on a permanently profitable path of growth.
We are an institution dating back over 100 years, and in that time many talented journalists and business people have played their roles in assuring the vitality of our newspapers and our community.
Ken Brusic is certainly in the upper echelon of those people. Each of us have been touched by Ken in our own ways, often and likely in ways that will stay with us for a long time. With full and grateful hearts we thank Ken for his leadership, inspiration and dedication over two decades as he concludes his tenure this week as our Editor.
We also want to thank and recognize the contributions of Rebecca Allen, Terry Moore and Brenda Shoun who will be passing their leadership to a new team.
Congratulations to Rob Curley who will be our new Editor. Many of you already know and appreciate the energy, intelligence and heart that Rob brings every day.
Congratulations to our new senior content management team reporting to Rob:
Donna Wares will be our Managing Editor whose responsibilities will include overseeing the LA Register;
John Fabris will be our Deputy Editor/Operations;
Steve Green will be our Assistant Managing Editor/Local;
Todd Harmonson will be our Assistant Managing Editor/Sports;
Helayne Perry will be our Assistant Managing Editor/Design;
Marcia Prouse will be our Assistant Managing Editor/Visuals;
and Jeff S. Miller will be heading our Features team.
This is quite a team of leaders. They will give everything they have to fulfill the promise of what the Register can be, leading one of the most talented newsrooms in the country.
As we finish our year, we take stock in all that we have accomplished. We evaluate what worked well and what did not. And then we prepare for making 2014 a year of profitable growth. Today we concluded a difficult but important restructuring of our OC Register content team that reflects our assessment of what our content team looks like to tackle the next phase of our growth in Orange County and LA County.
The 32 friends and colleagues leaving us have helped the Register navigate through some very challenging times. We are grateful for their service.
We enter 2014 with real opportunities and real challenges. We have significant continued opportunities in Orange County with growing subscription, local advertising and digital revenue as we work to hone and improve how we produce a great newspaper and the quality of that newspaper. We have significant new opportunities as we bring our brand of local, community building newspapering to Los Angeles with the LA Register.
We will start the next leg of our growth with approximately 370 content team members covering Orange County and LA County. This is up from 198 team members just eighteen months ago and makes our newsroom one of the largest metro newsrooms in the country. Over the past 18 months we have added more journalists to our team than every other newspaper in the country combined, and we have increased the breadth and depth of the value that we provide to our subscribers at a breathtaking pace.
On behalf of everyone in our business and in our community, thank you for your understanding, hard work and commitment. Let’s build on the foundation we’ve established to continue to grow in 2014.
Gustavo Arellano at OC Weekly has a partial list of those who are leaving here. Arellano has also been posting some serious rumors about financial problems in Kushner’s organization. As well, we know the Register has recently placed its Santa Ana Headquarters up for sale.
The OC Business Journal reports the number of layoffs at 35.
Since the Kushner takeover of Freedom Communications, they’ve dramatically increased their print subscription rates (nearly double) as we’ve blogged here, but they’ve arguably failed to deliver any higher quality or quantity of content. They blew off Steve Greenhut as well, losing one of the few editorialists who really knew OC politics and finance even though he’d gone remote from northern California. We’ve noted in the last ten days that their Opinion section has halved in size, from about four pages down to two.
Yet, and noted in Kushner’s letter above, the Register still has plans for Los Angeles and, presumably, also for Long Beach. They recently acquired the Press-Enterprise in the Inland Empire as well which also announced layoffs today.