Aaron Kushner: I don’t believe in afflicting the comfortable

I received emails in recent days about Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner telling his staff at a March 6 newsroom meeting that he doesn’t believe in “afflicting the comfortable.”

In a phone conversation today, Kushner confirms he made the statement.

“I don’t believe it is our job” to afflict people. “I do reject that. I don’t believe that’s the role of newspapers.”

Aaron Kushner

Aaron Kushner

Kushner says he’s an advocate of investigative reporting — “we’ve massively increased the size of that group” at the Register — but “we should be careful and respectful. It’s not an issue of us avoiding stories that may be negative, it’s about the tone. In this day and age. once we say something negative about something, not only does it carry a lot of weight but it lives forever in the digital archives.”

Kushner says his comments at the meeting were received “very positively” by the staff. (One of my emailers had a different take. He said of owner’s no-afflicting remark: “People in the newsroom didn’t like that at all.”)

“As an institution, we love Orange County. I think everyone understands that tone does matter, and that having multiple sources on the record does matter.”

Finally, I asked him about his interest in the Boston Globe and Tribune’s newspapers. Kushner says he’s “been on the record” about wanting the papers, but he has nothing to add. Is he preparing offers now? He declined to say.