'OC Register' Publisher Says Recruiter to Blame for Poor Background Check Of Buscaglia

By: Joe Strupp Orange County Register Publisher N. Christian Anderson III learned that Marti Buscaglia had misrepresented herself on her resume from a tip the paper received after announcing she would become the new publisher -- not from Buscaglia herself. He also criticized the search firm that had recruited the veteran newspaper executive, claming they should have checked her background better.

"You really need to rely on recruiters to verify facts, handle doing the requisite background checks," Anderson said late Thursday, a day after announcing Buscaglia would not be taking the job. "In my experience with recruiters, you need to be able to count on them to have vetted the various aspects of the person's background." He declined to identify the recruiter used.

Anderson also said that the paper would not be in a hurry to seek another candidate for the job, hinting that it may be 2008 before a choice is made, if at all. "I don't know at this point," he said about the timing of a new candidate. "Just the process of identifying the right person. I don't know how long that will take."

Anderson, who holds the roles of Register publisher and president and CEO of Freedom Orange County, had planned to install Buscaglia as the paper's publisher, handing over some responsibility to her while he focused on company-wide needs. The hiring of Buscaglia, the five-year publisher of the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, was announced on June 6, with plans for her to take over next week.

But Anderson said in recent weeks what he termed "an allegation" had been brought to his attention by an unnamed source that said Buscaglia had not graduated from Lima University in Peru. "We asked Marti about it, and she came forward and said that she had misrepresented the facts on her resume," Anderson said. "When Marti and I talked about it, she said it was obvious it could not work, and we simply agreed."

Anderson said at no time did he formally withdraw the offer, saying, "I don't think I had to say to her what this means. ... She and we agreed that it had potential to harm her credibility, and by extension our credibility. This is just a tough situation to have to overcome. I would have wanted her to be focused on the things that had to be done rather than fighting off her detractors."

Buscaglia told Anderson that she had apparently misrepresented her graduation history on her resume for most of her career. He said it was surprising no other employers had checked, or at least had not cared that she lied. "She worked for five different newspapers before we hired her," he said. Noting the background check he underwent years ago when he was a candidate to become Freedom CEO, Anderson recalled a search firm doing a thorough check on his educational credentials.

As for the future of the Register's publisher position, Anderson said he and Freedom Communications CEO Scott Flanders would discuss how to proceed and whether to seek a publisher anytime soon. "If we move forward to find another publisher, it would take a while," Anderson said, adding that next time, "I guess I will ask any recruiter we used, 'Have you checked everything on this resume?'"


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