Read the memo

Register names LA editor, Kushner again vows to be for 'free markets'

Thumbnail image for oc-register.jpgDonna Wares, a veteran of the Los Angeles Times and of the Orange County Register, will be the editor of the LA Register that will debut next year. She is currently the business editor of the OC Register. Last night's newsroom memo is below, along with a note to the staff from Aaron Kushner saying the Register headquarters will be sold.

From: Rebecca Allen
Sent: Friday, December 20, 2013 5:36 PM
To: Newsroom Assoc_OCR
Subject: Los Angeles Register

Business Editor Donna Wares will be the editor of the new Los Angeles Register when it launches early next year. Donna returned to the Register in 2012, jumpstarting the paper’s standalone business section and expanding the business staff. During her first stint at the Register, she covered the police and courts beats, worked as an investigative projects reporter, and served as legal affairs editor. She has worked as national weekend editor (among other roles) at the Los Angeles Times, managing editor at Entrepreneur Media and reporter at the Miami Herald. She’s also been a book editor and writer, and is the editor of the best-selling “My California” anthology. OC Metro magazine named her one of “20 Women to Watch” this year.

Ron Sylvester will edit the weeklies that will cover Los Angeles County communities. He and Donna will work very closely together on coverage. During a 37-year journalism career, he's had lunch with Johnny Cash and looked into the eyes of the BTK serial killer. He's gone from the newsrooms of USA Today to the Register, writing stories as diverse as the dangers of antibiotic resistance and the Las Vegas Strip. His reporting methods have been taught in journalism schools across the country, and he's spoken at more than a dozen national and regional journalism conferences. In April, he moved from the Las Vegas Sun to the Register as a senior general assignment reporter, before taking over as team leader in October for the San Clemente bureau. During his first assignment as an editor, no one quit. He's have been named to go to the Los Angeles Register because Rob Curley thought his wardrobe would fit better in Hollywood than Huntington Beach. His upbringing in Missouri and Kansas has given him a unique perspective in community-based journalism. His goal for this job is to coach like Phil Jackson while looking more like Pat Riley. He reports that he's already shopping for new shoes in the shops on Melrose.

With Donna's transfer to LA, Dan Beucke will take over as OC Register business editor. Dan came to the Register in March after 15 years at Businessweek in New York City, where he was a senior editor handling award-winning stories for the magazine and the news editor for Before that, he was business editor of New York Newsday, a deputy editor at Newsday and the San Jose Mercury News, and a reporter at various newspapers including the Register and the Tustin News. He's written on subjects as diverse as the crash of General Motors, income inequality, the low-tech side of Silicon Valley, and the razor-blade arms race. Dan lives in Tustin with his wife, Diane.

Donna and Ron have begun sorting the list of people who have applied and will start interviewing candidates soon. If you are interested in working in Los Angeles and haven't applied, please do. They are also looking for a location for our LA office.

Rebecca Allen
Deputy Editor, Features/Business
Orange County Register

Here is Kushner's year-end rally the troops note that contains the news nugget that the Register will try to sell its Santa Ana building and either rent it back or move. He again signals what he thinks will be important about the LA Register and how it will be different from other media (he doesn't specifically mention the LA Times, but...): "We are not bland. We are not depressing. We are not a national newspaper. We are not liberal, nor are we reactionary. We are not antagonistic or afflicting. We believe in intelligent, civil discourse. We believe a newspaper should have verve and heart. We believe in free markets and the freedom to live our lives." One test then I guess will be how (or whether) they will cover people or events that are depressing, uncivil or not in the service of free markets.

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for the hard work and inspiration you poured into the Register this year.

As we talked about in our Town Hall, we set some quite audacious goals for ourselves in 2013. While we did not achieve all of them, what we accomplished was remarkable. From our subscribers to our advertiser partners to our community at large, everyone can see and feel how far we have come already. Great job!

We are committed to winning and 2014 will be the year we complete our first full circle doing just that. We believe that there are three essential elements to winning: producing a great community-building newspaper, growing our revenue and impact in the community, and producing permanently profitable results.

We expect our second year will be just as challenging and rewarding as our first, and that we will make even more progress. Lean into January-don't let up. Let's make the start to our year just as energized as we have concluded December.

Among the items in queue for 2014:

· We have added the Press-Enterprise and La Prensa to our family which presents a great opportunity and a significant responsibility with two large and important communities to serve of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

· We will continue to evolve and grow our Orange County Register business. We are continuously evaluating our products, our sections, our sales, our organization and structure to find the most effective ways possible to deliver for our subscribers, advertisers and community. Along those lines, as have many newspapers, we will be marketing our Santa Ana real estate for either sale-leaseback or sale. We have already made excellent progress in both reducing our debt and significantly increasing the funding levels of our pension plan. Exiting the real estate business to focus on the newspaper business will continue that progress. If we do not lease back our existing space, we anticipate remaining in the county seat of Santa Ana in nearby space.

· And we will continue our expansion geographically with a full Los Angeles Register. While the outside media world may focus on this, we know that we have an entire business to continue to build. We will take our development of the Los Angeles Register in stride, just as we have done so well with the Long Beach Register and more recently the Press-Enterprise. Our ability to grow both internally and externally without skipping a beat in our normal course of business is a critical element of our success.

In the context of all that is new as we move into 2014, it's always healthy to remind ourselves of what we are and what we are not.

We are not bland. We are not depressing. We are not a national newspaper. We are not liberal, nor are we reactionary. We are not antagonistic or afflicting.

We believe in intelligent, civil discourse. We believe a newspaper should have verve and heart. We believe in free markets and the freedom to live our lives.

We believe in building community, and that is why we exist. That is why we are in the service of Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Long Beach and soon the rest of Los Angeles County.

Thank you again for the inspiring and engaging work you do every day. We look forward to continuing to grow the Register together!

--Best, Aaron

Previously on LA Observed:
Newsonomics of Register's LA play yet to be determined
Register starts looking for staffers who want to move
Kushner unveils plans for Los Angeles Register

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