News industry analyst Ken Doctor talked to the Register's Aaron Kushner and came away with some more details about the strategy behind the Orange County newspaper chief's upcoming move into Los Angeles. And with some remaining questions, such as whether it will work. The most interesting part to me is Doctor's assessment that this move out of OC into a broader readership base helps open the Register experiment to a new, much bigger potential base of advertisers and paying readers. And Doctor also suggests part of the strategy may be to nudge the LA Times closer to a sale — perhaps even to Kushner's Freedom communications.
Another hint of what's to come when the Register launches its new 7-day-a-week newspaper in Los Angeles County is that the paper expects to benefit by being more libertarian than the more conventionally liberal LA Times.
The L.A. Register announcement, whatever the depth of its products, can be interpreted as a new shot in that roll-up battle, saying this to Tribune and LANG: Maybe, it’s time to sell sooner than later. Would Kushner still want to buy the L.A. Times (and if necessary, the other seven papers)? Yes, in a word, he says. “Our perspective on the Tribune has not changed.”
As to the new L.A. Register, here’s what Kushner will detail:
It will cover the county of Los Angeles, a region of 10 million people. (Compare that to 3 million in its home Orange County, and 460,000 in neighboring Long Beach).
It will set up satellite offices for its staff in L.A. County, accommodating journalists and ad salespeople.
It will be a seven-day-a-week product, available by single copy (convenience stores+) and home delivery, using contractors who are often delivering multiple products. Printing could be done at one of the three Register plants (Santa Ana, Anaheim, Riverside) or at a different location.
Kushner says one other differentiator is the paper’s once-thought-to-be-vestigial, libertarian-like editorial stance. The Hoiles family, which bought the paper in 1935 and sold a majority interest in 2004, took pride in that libertarian editorial page, one that stood out among dailies. That political position — which Kushner explains as “We believe in free markets and we believe in the personal freedoms to live our lives.” — is one he cites as a “completely different political perspective” as compared with the more traditional Times.
Kushner also talks about the political tone his LA Register will strike in an interview with Steve Chiotakis on KCRW, to air later this afternoon. Right after the interview, I will give my reaction to Chiotakis, including some skepticism about how much dent the Register can make with the skeleton staff they plan to send north — with the understanding though that even a small dent can make a big difference in the journalism of the city. My part is on the air at 6:44 p.m. I'd tune in maybe 5 minutes earlier for the Kushner interview.