The Washington Post's Frank Ahrens looks into a Southern California tale of a disgruntled newspaper family selling to private equity buyers and the cutbacks that followed — but his subject is not the Times. It's the Register in Orange County, whose parent Freedom Communications went on the block three years ago and which, he says, may offer some lessons for the Tribune-Times saga.
Declining circulation and advertising revenue are chasing newspapers out of the longtime hands of family and Wall Street shareholders and into the arms of the trendiest owners in the industry: private-equity firms....
That unsettles some, who fear that private equity's focus on short-term gain will lead to more cuts and quality reductions in an already shaky industry. But Freedom president Scott N. Flanders said private-equity ownership of newspapers is actually the best idea for this turbulent era.
"Media companies in transition should be private," Flanders said. "When you're privately backed, you have the flexibility to be nimble."
The story says that OC Post, the tabloid the Register launched in a desperate bid to keep some young readers, has picked up about 15,000 subscribers.