Yvette Cabrera, voted last year's best OC columnist by the Orange County Press Club, was laid off today by the Register. The news is getting out via the organization CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California, where Cabrera is the president. She is "one of a handful of Latina mainstream English-language columnists in the country," says an official with the group. A report that Cabrera contributed last year to KCET's "SoCal Connected" on families forced to live in motels won a Gracie Award this month.
The unconfirmed report is that at least eight other Register staffers are being laid off. No names yet that I have heard.
* Update: OC Weekly says the toll is five journalists, including Cabrera and sports columnist Randy Youngman, plus four open positions. The weekly's Gustavo Arellano has a complex reaction to Cabrera's exit:
I have a long, tortured relationship with Yvette....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.
Photo: OC Register