The Orange County Register just announced that Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz, the co-owners of Freedom Communications, have both resigned as of today from all executive duties at Freedom and the newspaper. Remember, Kushner was being seen just a couple of years ago as the white knight who might save all of newspapering from digital doom. He didn't seem to know anything about newspapers or how to navigate the digital future — and certainly knew nothing about how to actually deliver papers to paying customers — but people bought in optimistically. That era ended officially today, but the optimism was long gone.
From the Register story:
Publisher Rich Mirman, the former casino marketing executive who has been running day-to-day operations since fall, assumed their executive duties.
Spitz will stay on as Freedom's chairman of the board. He will work in a corporate role with the company's board of directors and investors.
"It has been a privilege and honor to serve as a leader of this institution," Kushner told the newsroom Tuesday afternoon. "Thank you for hard work, your patience and commitment to the Register."
During Kushner’s tenure as CEO, Freedom carried out three rounds of buyouts or layoffs at the Register and ended the Los Angeles Register in September after five months of publication.
The Register also struggled to deliver newspapers to subscribers, the result of a business dispute between Freedom and former delivery-provider, the Los Angeles Times.
* Update from OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano, who's been watching Kushner closer than anyone locally: "The Orange County Register's long nightmare is over," he posts. [I'm not so sure about that. The road doesn't necessarily get easier.] Full story.
That sound you heard was the relieved sigh of the hundreds of people left on Grand Street, the hundreds laid off because of Kushner's hubris over his nearly three-year reign, and the hundreds of Reg alumni now worried about their pensions, in a story I was planning to write mañana and that I'll address tomorrow.