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Jim Romenesko, the media columnist at jimromenesko.com, reported today (January 16) that he received multiple communications from Orange County Register newsroom employees who got the axe.

Romenesko said that, as of last count, 32 newsroom employees have been pink-slipped. The layoffs include a raft of top editors.

This is not exactly a surprise because there were rumors that the paper was not doing well. However, as of last August, its new owner, Aaron Kushner, had shocked those in the industry by doubling the number of reporters and editors to 350 and adding 22 weekly sections.

When he headed the group buying the Riverside Press Enterprise, there were rumors that Kushner was having trouble with the financing. But the deal went through. Then he started the Long Beach Register. When Kushner expanded the print side, people in the industry were extremely skeptical. Now they will be saying, "I told you so."

Before newspapers, Kushner was in the greeting-card industry.

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aardvark Jan. 16, 2014 @ 11:33 p.m.

Looks like another paper ready for Dougie to buy and continue to "expand his empire".

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Don Bauder Jan. 17, 2014 @ 6:48 a.m.

aardvark: Papa Doug has plenty of problems at the U-T. Originally, he talked about building a national newspaper empire; he tried unsuccessfully for the Boston Globe, was said to be lined up for the L.A. Times, etc.

However, the actual acquisitions to date have been to expand his San Diego monopoly -- the North County Times and the eight weeklies. He also tried to buy the Reader and was turned down.

Remember that Platinum Equity, upon buying the U-T, talked about snapping up papers around the country. This is a private equity group that specializes in buying into ailing industries. But upon taking a detailed look around, Platinum Equity sold he U-T and hasn't been chasing other papers. Warren Buffett has been buying papers, but only small- to medium-sized ones. Metro dailies are hurting. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark Jan. 17, 2014 @ 9:37 a.m.

Don: I guess the sarcasm wasn't obvious enough. No matter. Do you think Manchester will sell his "empire" anytime soon, or will anyone even be there to buy it?

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Don Bauder Jan. 17, 2014 @ 11:27 a.m.

aardvark: You put "expand his empire" in quotes, so I have no excuse. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2014 @ 7:35 a.m.

aardvark: I see I didn't answer your question. I have said earlier that I thought it was possible --- not probable -- that Papa Doug will try to sell his San Diego media holdings as early as this year. He will have a hard time finding a buyer unless he drops the price pretty low.

I suspect that he is tired of losing money and being a laughingstock. On the other hand, he wants that real estate -- one of his original motivations. But of course I could be wrong on all this. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Jan. 17, 2014 @ 9:26 a.m.

Didn't the decline of the U-T start with a major cutback in the number of editors? That's what I recall, and the effects were immediately apparent. Reporters are fine, but someone with a critic's eye needs to be looking at the reports and making sure they are complete and accurate and literate and engaging. Today I see plenty of poor syntax in the Mill's articles, inappropriate headlines, and of course, editorial comment masquerading as news. Strong editors would have none of that sort of thing, but when there are almost no editors at all, and when the few who are there are spread too thin and powerless anyway, you no longer have serious journalism. I haven't seen a Register in years, and don't know the kind of job it was doing. But I'm sure it will suffer too.

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Don Bauder Jan. 17, 2014 @ 11:36 a.m.

Visduh: The whacking of the editing process at the U-T was done by the Manchester/Lynch management team. It was a mistake. I don't know about you, but when I see a lot of grammatical errors (occasional typos don't bother me), I have a lower opinion of the publication. It loses credibility.

Maybe younger audiences don't insist on pristine grammar. But newspapers have already lost the bulk of younger audiences.

As I understand it, in the main, the editors axed at the Register were top editors, not copy desk people. Best, Don Bauder

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