Register owner reaches deal with creditors in bankruptcy

Posts on this blog have previously reported that Freedom Communications, the parent company of the Orange County Register and numerous newspapers and television stations around the country, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and that some of its creditors were fighting for a fairer shake than the owners had offered. Out of that process has come information that seems to show that the Register, an editorializing champion of freedom and abolishing most everything government does, has been what can only be characterized as less than ethical.

A story in the January 22 Business Section of the Register (Freedom, creditors reach accord) reports that unsecured creditors, including Register employees and retirees, will get a better deal than they had initially been offered. In the process, the secured creditors will take over control of the company, and a new Board of Directors will be named. Whether that will result in a moderated, more main stream editorial policy remains to be seen.

Money is being set aside to pay former Register carriers who sued the paper over being treated as though they were independent contractors, not employees. Of course, employees are subject to labor laws, including due process and limitations on work hours, whereas independent contractors are not. Seems the Register tried to skirt the law on this one and the bankruptcy process is forcing the truth to come out. Do you think that the lawsuit by the employees and the potential multi-million dollar settlement was a contributing factor to the bankruptcy?

Also reported in the story is that the heirs of R.C. Hoiles, the late founder of the paper who is annually featured in a spread in the paper as though he was a Saint, will wind up with nothing out of the bankruptcy. Sounds like the family dynasty is coming to an end as the result of failed management.

Sad to say that a newspaper that continuously boasts about the superiority of private sector management has come to this end. If nothing else this situation seems to show us that when an organization fails to change with the times, treats its employees badly and perhaps ignores labor law in the process, and behaves arrogantly as though no one dare say no to a media person, few if any will come to the rescue of that organization or even shed a tear when it inevitably hits the wall.

Let’s hope a new Board and new management can bring ethics and breathe life back into the Register. I suggest the new owners and their new management keep this in mind – nice begets nice – arrogant dictators eventually get overthrown. Give us timely news, not feature stories that could be printed elsewhere most any time and no more columns full of whining about politics. Your only agenda should be to just give us timely news, including sports. And stop trying to whip up public opinion to suit you.

About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.