Kushner: ‘Only in the newspaper business’ would L.A. Register’s launch draw criticism

Los Angeles Register | LA Observed | Associated Press | Reuters

The Los Angeles Register launches Wednesday. Owners Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz “are hand-delivering copies of the newspaper on Wednesday to business and civic leaders across Los Angeles,” the paper says in a press release.

Wednesday’s L.A. Register (photograph by Sandee Oshiro)

The paper promises heavy local coverage and opinion columnists who “will bring a right-of-center perspective and engage in civil debate,” as well as “more than a dozen new community editions,” the release says. Some of the staff moving north from the Register’s homebase in Orange County, where Kushner publishes the Orange County Register, include sports columnist T.J. Simers; food writers Brad A. Johnson, Nancy Luna and Cathy Thomas; and film critic Michael Sragow.

The paper will “include 50-60 pages during the week and 80-90 on Sunday,” the release says.

Writing in the Los Angeles Register — whose website still sports the OC Register’s browser icon — Mary Ann Milbourn says home delivery will begin in May. Ron Sylvester, the L.A. Register’s editor, tells Milbourn, “Local coverage is the heart of what we do at the Register.”

Milbourn writes about some of the skepticism greeting the launch; Kushner tells her: “Only in the newspaper business would someone criticize a business for opening in a market of 10 million people with a great quality product.”

Kevin Roderick writes in LA Observed that he’s “hopeful but not optimistic” about the new paper’s chances, noting that it’s entering a market “that barely supports the newspapers it has” and that Kushner’s assumption “that there is a significant bloc of right-of-center readers … may not be fully grounded in reality.”

News of the new newspaper also yields a bountiful harvest of analysis from Ken Doctor:

  • The Register has “more of a Pac-Man strategy, where they will be munching around the edges of the L.A. Times and the newspapers of (the Los Angeles News Group),” Doctor tells Milbourn.
  • He tells AP’s Ryan Nakashima he “believes the L.A. Register could help Freedom’s profits if it sells as few as 20,000 to 25,000 copies a day, especially because it is using existing staff to produce it.”
  • After Kushner tells Reuters reporter Jennifer Saba the Register’s “simple business model” is “Invest in staff and the paper and cover things locally readers are most passionate about,” Doctor says “It’s pretty clear they over-invested in Orange County,” where the paper in January cut 32 jobs and changed top editors.

Correction: This post originally attributed a quote from Gabriel Kahn to Doctor.

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