Orange County Register co-owner Aaron Kushner, announced Monday night the closure of the 5-month-old Los Angeles Register.
By Andrew Khouri
September 22, 2014
The Los Angeles Register, which launched in April as part Aaron Kushner’s bold bet on print newspapers, will cease publication, effective immediately.
Orange County Register co-owner Aaron Kushner announced the decision Monday night in a memo sent to employees.
“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,” said the memo, signed by Kushner and his Freedom Communications co-owner Eric Spitz.
“We believe the true definition of failure is not taking bold steps toward growth.”
The memo hints at layoffs, but provided no specific details.
“There will be some staff changes with our content team as part of the changes in Los Angeles,” the memo said. “For those that will be leaving, we say thank you. We are most grateful for their service to the community.”
The company will now focus on core markets in Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties where the company has decades-long and “deep relationships with subscribers and advertisers.”
Freedom Communications acquired the Riverside Press-Enterprise last November.
Kushner and Spitz noted in their memo that the production, printing and distribution of a new daily newspaper serving 88 communities in L.A. had a “real cost and required greater community support than it initially achieved.”
The expansion has been closely watched because it comes as newspapers increasingly focus on their digital product amid a changing media landscape.
After Kushner’s 2100 Trust bought Freedom in 2012, he beefed up staffing at the O.C. Register, launched the Long Beach Register last year and bought the Riverside Press-Enterprise for nearly $27.3 million in November.
But signs of financial stress surfaced.
In January, Freedom laid off 71 employees in what management described as a “difficult but important restructuring” necessary “to tackle the next phase of our growth.”
Then in June, the Long Beach paper was folded into its Los Angeles counterpart and became a stand-alone paper only on Sundays. Freedom also imposed two-week furloughs companywide, and dozens of O.C. Register reporters took buyouts.
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