The nation’s newspaper wars, compared

You’d think newspaper wars would have disappeared after their prize — becoming a city or region’s dominant daily — became the sort of “victory” you wouldn’t wish on your bitterest enemy. But today at least two regions in the U.S. find competing newspapers battling for their affection: In New Orleans, The Advocate has squared off with the Times-Picayune, and in Long Beach, Calif., The Orange County Register is making a move on the MediaNews Group-owned Press-Telegram.

Both wars have their appeal, but which scuffle is most deserving of popcorn from time-pressed media obsessives? Here’s the tale of the tape:

Storylines

New Orleans: After the Advance-owned Times-Picayune cut staff and reduced print frequency, The Advocate of Baton Rouge began courting New Orleans print-lovers with a seven-day-per-week newspaper and a local edition. New Orleans businessman John Georges bought The Advocate and hired two former top Times-Picayune editors, then began raiding the Times-Picayune’s newsroom and trumpeting the hires. Meanwhile, the Times-Picayune announced it would add print days via a newsstand edition.

Long Beach: Aaron Kushner bought The Orange County Register, doubled the size of its newsroom and installed a paywall. Then he announced a plan to start an edition called the Long Beach Register, which will come wrapped around the O.C. paper. “If [Long Beach residents] wanted to buy the Orange County Register, they’d be buying it,” Digital First CEO John Paton tells Rem Rieder.

Raids on enemy assets

New Orleans: The Advocate hired several Times-Picayune veterans when it first launched its assault on the New Orleans paper, and the pace of defections has quickened since the arrival of former Times-Picayune managing editors Dan Shea and Peter Kovacs. Among those switching sides: Martha Carr, Gordon Russell, Sara Pagones, Stephanie Grace, Laura Maggi, Jaquetta White, Steven Forster and Nell Nolan, who joined The Advocate after the Picayune said she was retiring her column.

Long Beach: MediaNews group, which is managed by Digital First Media, appears to own the URL longbeachregister.com.

Quotes from Ken Doctor

New Orleans: On the Times-Picayune’s ownership: “Advance — in what I hope is not a rush to nowhere — seems to believe in time travel.” On The Advocate: “Though it won’t impress anyone as a New Orleans substitute, it further nibbles around the T-P’s increasingly tattered edges.”

Long Beach: On the Press-Telegram: “you could say it was a shadow of itself if you could find the shadow.” On Kushner: “Aaron Kushner is the anti-Advance.”

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  • hbarca

    John Paton: “If [Long Beach residents] wanted to buy the Orange County Register, they’d be buying it.”
    If Paton would leave Thunderdome long enough to check out the newsracks in East Long Beach, he would find out that is exactly what people are doing.