San Diego philanthropist launches newspaper bid

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San Diego philanthropist launches newspaper bid
FILE - In this April 16, 2014 file photo, Dorothy Shumrt reads the Los Angeles Register newspaper on the day of it's launch while waiting for a train at Union Station, in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Register, which debuted in April as a challenger to the Los Angeles Times, has ceased publication. Freedom co-owners Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz sent a memo to employees Monday night, Sept. 22, 2014, announcing that the LA Register was closing. In announcing the closure, Freedom Communications Inc. also said it had sold the Santa Ana headquarters for its flagship paper, the Orange County Register, for $27 million to local developer Michael Harrah. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Register , which debuted in April as a challenger to the Los Angeles Times , has ceased publication.

In announcing the closure, Freedom Communications Inc. also said it had sold the Santa Ana headquarters for its flagship paper, the Orange County Register , for $27 million to local developer Michael Harrah . The Register will lease space in the building.

Freedom co-owners Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz sent a memo to employees Monday night announcing that the LA Register was closing.

“Pundits and local competitors who have closely followed our entry into Los Angeles will be quick to criticize our decision to launch a new newspaper and they will say that we failed,” they wrote. “We believe, the true definition of failure is not taking bold steps toward growth.”

The company will focus on markets in Orange , Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the memo said. Freedom owns the Riverside Press-Enterprise, which it bought in November for more than $27 million .

The memo said there will be “staff changes” but did not give specifics or mention layoffs.

Kushner bought Freedom two years ago and bucked the industry’s trend toward digitalization by betting heavily on printed publications. He limited free access to the Orange County Register’s website and added pages to the print publication, nearly doubled the editorial staff to about 370, and purchased and launched smaller newspapers in the area to spread the company’s ad-sales reach and dilute the cost of reporting over a wider geographic area.

The Los Angeles Register and a sister paper in Long Beach were part of Freedom’s aggressive efforts to enter the huge newspaper market of neighboring Los Angeles County , dominated by the Los Angeles Times and a number of daily local papers owned by the Los Angeles News Group .

The Long Beach Register , which debuted last year and published six days a week, was scaled back in June, publishing as a stand-alone publication on Sundays only. The rest of the week Long Beach coverage was featured as a section within the Los Angeles Register . When that change was announced, Freedom also imposed two-week furloughs companywide and buyouts after earlier laying off dozens.

Kushner and Spitz said the Los Angeles Register’s website will stay open and publish material from other Freedom publications.

Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com



 

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