“2100 Trust LLC, a group led by Boston-based investor Aaron Kushner announced Monday that it has bought the parent company of the Orange County Register and more than half a dozen smaller newspapers for an undisclosed sum,” according to the L.A. Times.
Kushner previously failed to purchase the Boston Globe.
“Data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations shows that readership from Monday to Friday declined to 183,595 in March 2012, compared with 285,914 in 2007,” according to the New York Times.
Not a lot is known about Kushner’s politics; he has donated to candidates in both parties. Given his lack of history in the media (prior to founding 2100 Trust he ran a greeting card company), there’s no way of knowing whether he will attempt to assert any influence on his papers’ editorial views, according to Reason.
I am guessing that the O.C. Register’s editorial pages could be turning from Libertarian leaning to something else – and that could happen soon as Kushner will be taking over in 30 days.
Kushner is a self-described Boston “newbie,” he lives in a $1.7 million house in Wellesley with his wife and three kids. After growing up in Georgia, he attended Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in organizational analysis, and starred on the gymnastics team. His first break came during the Internet bubble, when in 1999 he sold a company he’d started — MyMove.com, which allowed people to change their addresses online — to Imagitas, a business then based in Newton. It was that deal that eventually brought Kushner to the Boston area. A few years later, he and a business partner started looking around for other acquisitions, which led them to a greeting-card company in Wareham called Marian Heath. (Kushner’s grandfather and great-grandfather had both been in the greeting-card game.) Kushner and his partner bought Marian Heath in 2002 with funding from the Walnut Group, a Cincinnati investment company, and Kushner became CEO, according to Boston Magazine.
The O.C. Weekly’s terrific investigative reporter, R. Scott Moxley, clowned the O.C. Register’s current editor, Ken Brusic, for sending a flash mob of 100 reporters to cover Disneyland’s new Cars land, at their California Adventure park, while failing to cover the actions of former O.C. Sheriff Mike Carona, in a post yesterday.
Moxley is right as usual. The O.C. Register has become very lightweight and their political coverage has never been very good – at least not in recent years. The problem is that their political reporters too often end up having cozy relationships with local Democratic and Republican bloggers and politicians. The result? Crappy coverage and a blind eye for real political corruption.
Kushner has a history of laying off a lot of people after acquiring companies. But he says that he has a plan to make the O.C. Register relevant again – and media experts believe he will find a way to carry them forward into the digital age. That is their only hope. I can’t get over the fact that the minute the O.C. Register hits my driveway it is already old news. But I can get up to date news on my Kindle Fire or my Android cell phone. That is a recipe for failure for old school newspapers.
I am personally hoping that Kushner will clean house and get rid of the lazy reporters and editors who have allowed the Register’s political coverage to fade. We need real investigative journalism in Orange County. The OC Weekly can’t do it all, and the Voice of OC has been inconsistent and overly controlled by labor. If Kushner can restore the O.C. Register’s mojo he will be doing us all a big favor.