April 22, 2014

OC Weekly | Voice of OC

The Orange County Register has formed a content-sharing deal with the news nonprofit Voice of OC, OC Weekly Editor Gustavo Arellano reported Monday.

Reached by email Monday, Voice of OC Editor-in-Chief Norberto Santana Jr. said Arellano’s account was “accurate… About our syndication deal with OCR.”

Arellano torched the deal, saying Voice of OC “just sold out any indie cred it had built up by becoming [Register owner Aaron] Kushner’s useful idiot.”

But the only winner in all this is Kushner. The Voice of OC loses by entering into an agreement with their competitor, a competitor they have wonderfully exposed as a hater of journalism ethics in the past–wish I could be the fly in the wall in Kushner’s office next time the Voice of OC ever do a story like that, if they ever bother with that beat again. Register readers lose out by allowing Kushner to pass off sloppy seconds to them, all the while as he insists he’s giving them a superior product…by using a competitor. The Reg newsroom loses out, as this syndication deal amounts to a vote of no confidence by Kushner and Curley, and an indication that any future hires won’t go to the investigations team–so much for any commitment to actual hard news!

Santana writes that the Register will “run our stories on local government, basically akin to a wire service agreement.” Voice of OC will “get monetization for stories they run, and obviously increase our reach into Orange County ensuring that the community gets solid coverage of municipal affairs from a non-profit newsroom just focused on city hall coverage.” It will assign its own stories, Santana writes, and the Register has the choice of running them. He continues:

I think we may be one of the few local non profit newsrooms in the country that has struck a content sharing agreement with the main daily. Again, our goal is to make sure that balanced, investigative civic news gets covered by professionals and the public gets accountability stories presented in realtime.

Santana says one story the Register ran Monday covers the value of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s stadium and represents a “very different turn editorially from what the paper has done in the past.”

In an email to Poynter, Register spokesperson Eric Morgan says the deal “will allow us to publish select stories of interest to our readers, giving our subscribers even more depth to our investigative journalism and additional value.”

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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