Aaron Kushner, the hands-on owner of the Orange County Register, is still embroiled in conversation over his comment that the old quip about a newspaper's role — to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable — is out of step with his vision of the paper. The latest exchange is with Marc Cooper, the longtime alt-weekly and The Nation rabble-rouser who has been a journalism prof for several years at USC Annenberg. They seem to be just missing in their understanding of each other's meaning, but you be the judge. The back and forth is chronicled at the Voice of OC website.
Here's a sample of Kushner to Cooper:
I know you have an amazing history of reporting and journalism, but it strikes me that you did none of your basic homework before going on record.
Next time, before you critique one of the only newspapers in America which is hiring meaningful numbers of journalists and growing its watchdog team, would you like to perhaps (a) see our product, (b) talk to any one of our highly respected editors- some of the best in the country- like say Ken Brusic or Rob Curley or Donna Wares or Michelle Nicolosi all of whom I suspect would say that your caricature view of us is incorrect, or (c) talk the ownership you're criticizing.
By the way, of those four editors above, three were new hires and two have won Pulitzer prizes for hard hitting investigative reporting and editing — hardly the actions of an owner who "doesn't even have a skin-deep infusion of the ethos of an independent press."
Cooper to Kushner:
Your newspaper, as you put it, is visible to the entire world via the web. I know many of the OCR staff both past and present. My only other response to you is that any media executive already knows or should know what the deeper meaning of the phrase "to afflict the comfortable" implies. Not to torture or stick pins into the powerful, but rather to hold them accountable without fear or favor. That is your stated goal. I wish you luck in that endeavor.