Aaron Kushner‘s grand plan to become the Rupert Murdoch of southern California jumped a bit closer to that shark today as Freedom Communications announced it’s scaling back the recently launched Long Beach Register from a six-day publication to one.
Freedom Communications Holdings Inc. in Santa Ana announced it will shift its Long Beach Register from a standalone newspaper published six days a week to a weekly that it plans to deliver to about 61,000 area households on Sundays. The change is planned to take effect June 15. The weekly publication also will be bundled with the Los Angeles Register—which Freedom launched in April—and delivered subscribers in Long Beach on Sundays.
This is the latest set back for Publisher Kushner and his partner and President, Eric Spitz. The OCBJ also reminded us that while the would-be dynasty expanded, quite a few people lost their jobs (an obvious non sequitur):
The Santa Ana-based media company, which also owns the Orange County Register, started the Long Beach publication in August and purchased the daily Press-Enterprise in Riverside for $27.3 million in November. The purchase was shortly followed by layoffs of 74 from its newsrooms in Orange County and Riverside.
A long-time Register subscriber, me, would not recently accept their demand to pay $50+ for a five-week subscription, and I’ve replaced them with the liberal Los Angeles (for $4.99/week) which has better national and international coverage, editorials to be ignored, better sports and business sections and comprehensive coverage of the entertainment and media business from their own backyard. Since print is dying, we offered them some ideas in this area a year ago.
We’ll speculate that Freedom and the Registers won’t last out the year.
6/3/14: LAT Neener-Neener Update: O.C. Register’s owner to impose furloughs, scale back Long Beach paper. The Times also reports the sale of the Register’s building in Santa Ana has been finalized and could be NUKED:
Freedom has reached an agreement with William Lyon Homes under which the Newport Beach home builder gained the rights to acquire the Register’s Santa Ana headquarters and surrounding land, according to a filing with the Orange County Clerk-Recorder. The agreement expires in December 2015, the filing says. Freedom, William Lyon and the city of Santa Ana have held discussions about the potential sale and development of the Register’s land, including talks about a possible mix of residential and commercial development, said Karen Haluza, interim executive director of the city’s planning and building agency.
6/3/14: Late afternoon update finds cuts extend to OC Register: Register owner announces cutbacks. In part,
Under the furloughs, nearly all Freedom staff, including Kushner and Spitz, will be required to take two weeks of unpaid leave in June and July. The furloughs will be companywide, including The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, which Freedom purchased in November. The company is offering buyouts only to the Register newsroom, which currently has a staff of 345. Kushner said that, depending on the number of people who request buyouts, further layoffs may be needed.
6/4/14: Gustavo Arellano at the Weekly gets good insider information from the ink-stained wretches on Grand Ave. In part, from If Aaron Kushner Has His Way, Monday Will Leave OC Register W/Less Reporters Than When He Bought It: UPDATE this morning:
Reporters Ricardo Lopez and Pulitzer Prize-winning Stuart Pfeifer also revealed that the Register will reduce news pages by 25 percent, in part by cutting back the business section from daily to five days a week, and by eliminating a standalone fashion section. And they included a fascinating stat: according to the story, Kushner added about 175 staffers to the Reg during his grand experiment. If we worst-case-scenario what’s coming Monday and Kushner eliminates 100 positions, it puts the Register at fewer reporters than when he took over two years ago. According to Kushner’s stenographer, Mary Ann Milbourn, the Reg newsroom is currently at 345, down from a high of 370 at the beginning of the year; when he bought the paper, it was at 198. Lay off 100 on Monday, subtract the reporters he stole from Grand Street to staff his Los Angeles Register–“more than 50” is all he’s admitted to–throw in the 30 reporters Kushner laid off back in January, and we’re back to square one.