The new publisher of the Orange County Register disclosed in a letter to the staff today that layoffs are happening in OC and at the company's Riverside Press Enterprise. Rich Mirman says all of the layoffs are outside the newsrooms of the two newspapers. Remarkably to me, he frames the layoffs as correcting the big upswing in hiring in recent years by the previous publisher, Aaron Kushner, and his team — admitting that the business results just don't justify Kushner's hiring spree. Also remarkably, Mirman says "the business is not profitable." Gustavo Arellano has Mirman's full message at the OC Weekly — here's a quick excerpt:
Over the last few years, Aaron and Eric have taken some bold moves in an attempt to grow the business. They deserve a lot of credit for improving our focus on the community, strengthening the quality of our newspapers, and delivering unique value to our subscribers through programs like Register Connect.
Despite these improvements, our business has not achieved the growth necessary to support our cost structure. Unfortunately, the business is not profitable. Going forward, success requires us to boldly rethink our priorities and our focus.
To that end, we are taking some important measures starting today to stabilize our business in 2015 and ultimately position ourselves for success….
A big part of the overall company strategy is to "right size" the business back to appropriate levels. Throughout the day, we will be letting associates know that their positions have been eliminated. Approximately 100 colleagues across several business units of the Register and The Press-Enterprise will be leaving us. We are most grateful for their contributions and appreciative of all they have done to help support the company.
Arellano says that among the 100 people losing their jobs is Riverside Press-Enterprise publisher and Freedom Chief Revenue Officer Mike Burns. Mirman's note uses the word "deliver" (or its derivatives) four times, but never in a promise to actually, you know, deliver the paper his best customers paid for. Until he gets that right, and pays his bills to creditors like the LA Times, seems like nothing else matters.