Articles about "Freedom Communications"


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. Read more

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Freedom Communications’ Los Angeles Register to launch mid-April

Freedom Communications | Orange County Register

Freedom Communications’ challenge to the Los Angeles Times — the Los Angeles Register — will soft launch on April 16, the company announced Monday. The company also plans to introduce roughly a dozen community papers throughout Los Angeles County.

Over 7,500 retail and news rack locations will carry the Register at $1.50 on weekdays and $2 on Saturdays and Sundays, the company said. Home delivery will follow at an initial four-week subscription rate of $19.99.

According to a company statement:

“The Los Angeles Register will deliver community-building information about local activities, people and issues that impact our lives every day,” said Aaron Kushner, co-owner of Freedom Communications and Publisher of the Los Angeles Register. “Newspapers play an incredibly vital role in the social fabric of our lives- informing, inspiring and connecting us with our community. The Los Angeles Register and our community newspapers serving Los Angeles will focus on creating deep and meaningful local connections, as it is this type of bond and mission that helps subscribers, advertisers and our community itself thrive.”

In December, Kushner told the staff of the Orange County Register that the new paper will have “not quite the heft of the Orange County Register” and will be produced by the O.C. Register’s existing staff. Read more

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OC Register changes editors

Orange County Register | OC Weekly | Jim Romenesko | LA Observed

Rob Curley is the new editor of the Orange County Register. He replaces Ken Brusic, who the Register says is “stepping down as part of a reorganization of the newspaper’s newsroom.”

Register business editor Donna Wares will be managing editor and will be in charge of the paper’s planned Los Angeles edition. The Register laid off 32 in its newsroom, Publisher Aaron Kushner told his paper.

Gustavo Arellano reports Brusic was reluctant to implement cuts Kushner wanted. Jim Romenesko passes along a comment from a tipster characterizing layoffs at the paper as a “blood bath.”

Register journalists in 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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O.C. Register owner plans new daily paper in Los Angeles

Orange County Register | Los Angeles Times | KPCC

Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner plans to launch a daily paper in Los Angeles called the Los Angeles Register. He told staff of his plans in a meeting Thursday, Mary Ann Milbourn reports.

The new paper will have “not quite the heft of the Orange County Register,” Kushner said, and it will be produced by the O.C. Register’s existing staff, Milbourn reports. It will have an L.A. office, he told Milbourn.

Kushner told the Los Angeles Times’ Andrea Chang the new paper will “hire editorial staff externally and transfer some existing employees to the L.A. office.”

The paper will be distributed to the “entire Los Angeles area,” a Freedom Communications spokesperson told Wendy Lee. Read more

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Newspaper acquisition market keeps churning: Colorado Springs Gazette resold after four months

Aaron Kushner’s 2100 Trust investment group is selling The Colorado Springs Gazette just four months after buying the paper.

Kushner

The company, led by former greeting-card entrepreneur Kushner, acquired the Gazette and six other papers when it bought Freedom Communications in July.

But the sale to billionaire Philip Anschutz’s Clarity Media Group isn’t a sign that Kushner is losing interest in newspapers. Read more

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Barrett Tryon placed on leave in social media policy dispute

The Colorado Gazette reporter was told to remove a link on his Facebook wall to a news article about the parent company’s sale. He refused, saying it was relevant news, factual and did not express a personal opinion.

Tryon had a meeting scheduled today on the matter and thought he might even get fired. Now he tweets that he’s been placed on “administrative leave” pending an investigation.

He tells the Colorado Springs Independent that he was placed on leave after he said he planned to bring his lawyer to an HR meeting. Read more

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Freedom Communications, MediaNews Group talks break down

Wall Street Journal | Colorado Springs Gazette
Buyout discussions broke down recently amid disagreements over price, report Russell Adams and Mike Spector. Freedom — publisher of the Orange County Register and other papers — put its properties, including TV stations, on the block late last year. MediaNews, Tribune, and the San Diego Union-Tribune owner were considered leading contenders to buy Freedom properties. The Journal reports today:

Freedom and MediaNews had been in advanced discussions for months on a tie-up that would bolster the Denver Post owner’s standing as the second-largest U.S. newspaper conglomerate behind USA Today publisher Gannett Co. in terms of total circulation.

Freedom has given suitors several options for bidding on the chain. Possible buyers can make offers for the entire company, or they can separately bid on Freedom’s eight television stations, its more than 100 daily and weekly newspapers or the flagship Register alone.

Private-equity firm Platinum Equity and newspaper publisher Tribune Co. could have strategic interest in the Register, said people familiar with the sales process. Platinum owns the San Diego Union-Tribune and Tribune owns the Los Angeles Times, papers both near the Register’s market. But such tie-ups could draw regulators’ attention given the overlapping markets.

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Orange County Register reinvents evening news cycle with curated iPad app

While some newspapers are tiptoeing into iPad apps with replica editions of their print products, The Orange County Register has developed something quite different: a curated editorial product published late in the day.

The Register’s approach to the iPad is fundamentally different than many newspapers. Instead of asking themselves how to get all their newspaper content onto the iPad, they started from scratch to design a product tailored to the demographics and behaviors of tablet users.

In the process, the app is breaking conventions by publishing in the evening and limiting its scope to a handful of most-desired topics.

The table of contents for the OC Register iPad app shows the day’s hand-picked stories.

The OC Register for iPad app is a “curated experience,” said Doug Bennett, the president of the Freedom Interactive division of Freedom Communications, which owns the Register. It includes hand-picked stories “that we’ve identified as something they [iPad owners] would be interested in.”

The company decided early that its app should not be everything to everyone, and that a reformatted edition of the morning newspaper is not good enough.

“We’ve got plenty of time to do what some of our peers are doing with a replica edition” in order to reach existing newspaper readers, Bennett said. “What we’re after is that new audience that we haven’t necessarily reached in the past 10 or 15 years.”

Research shows that 25- to 44-year-olds are among the leading demographics of iPad owners, and that usage peaks in the evenings as people relax at home. So the OC Register app is released Monday through Saturday at 6 p.m. and is limited to about 60 stories in only six categories that appeal to young adults.

The emphasis on editorial selection and the evening publication time may sound familiar to people who used to read afternoon newspapers. But the Register app is much different than a pixelized newspaper.

Not just newspaper content

The app creators were guided by a focus on the audience: Who owns iPads, what do they want, and when do they want it?

Bennett said research showed interest in celebrities, trending topics, sports, things to do and photos. So the app features those categories, along with local and business news. The 35-44-year-old demographic didn’t show enough interest in traditional newspaper subjects, such as politics, commentary, classifieds or obituaries, so they’re not included.

The stories within those six sections each day also are specifically chosen by their expected appeal to the iPad demographic. So the story that leads the newspaper one day may not be in the app if it doesn’t appeal to the right audience.

Other news apps also are trying curation of topics and stories. The Washington Post iPad app, for example, picks a few big “live topics” that include Post stories, selected headlines from other sites, Facebook comments and Twitter feeds. Other apps, such as News.me or Zite, try to automatically curate content from many sources based on a user’s personal interests.

The Register newsroom has embraced the app because “they wanted to know they have a future,” Bennett said. But the app will not rely solely on content produced by the Register newsroom. Its aim is to have great stories fill its six categories every day, regardless of their source.

“As we evolve, we do believe that somewhere between 30 to 40 percent of our content will start to come from third-party vendors or other feeds or other sources, because we want to make sure that we’re really strong in those topics that these audiences like. And we can never count on our content center [the newsroom] to be 100 percent great in every aspect our audience is after,” Bennett said.

The company is discussing partnerships with bloggers and other sites to enable it to feature some of their content in the app, Bennett said. Those partnerships probably will involve a fee or revenue share with the content producers.

The iPad staff adds customized design and multimedia to featured stories.

Freedom Interactive created a six-person iPad team to choose each day’s stories and produce the app, including original interactive features and multimedia. Although the team works with people in the Register newsroom, they are separate from the newsroom and only work on the iPad product. Two people come from TV and movie production backgrounds, two are designers skilled in HTML5, one is a video producer and a publishing editor coordinates content.

The path to profit

That dedicated staff and purchased content is an aggressive investment for Freedom Communications.

Bennett received backing for his plans last year from Freedom Communications’ new president and CEO, Mitchell Stern, who came to the company in July from DirecTV.

Despite facing the financial strains common to news publishers these days, Stern was firm in devoting resources to the iPad product as a key to the company’s future, Bennett said.

An entirely rebuilt, beta version of app is in the iTunes App Store now; it will be formally launched and promoted starting Tuesday, Bennett said.

The target for financial success is 50,000 downloads in the first 12 months. Keeping a significant portion of those as regular readers should make the app profitable, Bennett said.

The app is marketed as free “for a limited time,” and it can be switched to a subscription model. But the company has no plans to do so until it sees demonstrated financial success from other subscription news apps.

Instead, Bennett is banking on the continued growth of mobile advertising and the premium quality of iPad ads.

All of the ads are custom designed with interactive experiences or video.

“It’s really almost content instead of an advertisement,” Bennett said. For example, he described a jewelry ad with an interactive model the user can rotate to examine. Advertisers love the rich interactive format, and readers seem to be engaging and paying attention to the ads, he said.

Most iPad apps seem to find their best ad market is for high-minded, magazine style branding campaigns rather than specific promotions.

In this early beta period, the company has sold ads by a flat fee while telling advertisers what kind of audience and demographics the app is expected to deliver. Response has been strong so far, Bennett said, with prices equivalent to a $35 to $40 CPM.

The financial success of the app will have to be evaluated over time, but I am glad to see a news organization taking a new approach to a tablet product, and committing significant ongoing resources to it, based on the actual use of the device.

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Tribune, MediaNews expected to bid for OC Register parent

OCWeekly.com
The auction is today. Bidders will be allowed to break off Freedom’s newspapers from its other media holdings, such as TV stations, reports the Wall Street Journal. Freedom’s 100-plus papers, including the Orange County Register, could fetch up to $350 million, while its eight TV stations are expected to go for as much as $400 million. Read more

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New social media rules for Freedom Communications staff

Romenesko Misc.
The Orange County Register parent says it “encourages its associates to participate in these [social] media as a means of generating interest in the Company’s products and services and creating business opportunities,” but “the Company must ensure that use of these communications maintains its brand identity, integrity and reputation while minimizing actual or potential legal risks, whether used internally or externally.” All employees must sign the policy. (It’s reprinted after the jump.) Read more

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