Look who has been spotted in City Hall

Our favorite mystery face on the third floor of LA City Hall. LAO photo.

There has been a new species of journalist spotted recently at Los Angeles City Hall. That would be reporters for the as-yet-unseen LA Register. Staffers for the paper have reportedly been in discussions with the office of Council President Herb Wesson about snagging some space in the third-floor press room where the Register's future competitors such as KPCC, the Daily News and City News Service have desks. The Times contingent has a separate, adjacent office. Both press rooms open onto the classic City Hall corridor you have seen in a hundred (at least) TV episodes, movie scenes and commercials.

A delegate from the Register has also been spied across the Civic Center in the Hall of Administration, where the Board of Supervisors and many county departments have offices. The Register shouldn't have any trouble getting a desk or two in the lightly used county press room — and that's putting it nicely.

Reportedly the explorers up from Orange County have been talking about a mid-April launch. Nothing official yet from the mother ship in Santa Ana. The LA Register began advertising its social media presence in January.

Register owner Aaron Kushner talked up the Los Angeles edition's prospects in a lunch hour talk last week journalism students and faculty at USC Annenberg. From Annenberg News:

“We exist to build community,” Kushner replied. “Reporting is one of the tools we use. New technologies can open up storytelling channels, but we are decidedly NOT digital-first. We are subscriber-first and our advertisers are number two.”

Kushner further explained that chasing after digital dollars, which he said represents 10 percent of his revenue, will not lead to long-term success. If newspapers are going to be successful well into future, they will need to beef up their subscriber base, he said.

In addition, Kushner disputed the notion that online reader “clicks” can be accurately measured or that they should be used to dictate what gets published in the newspaper. “Just because you can measure it, doesn’t mean it’s accurate,” he said. “Our most clicked-on stories are all crime-related. But our entire world doesn’t revolve around crime.”

Kushner expressed a similar attitude toward focus groups. “Editors should make the judgment. Just as we are not just tossing out link bait, we don’t think you can ‘focus group’ your way to a better newspaper product. Instead, we’ve found a direct correlation between a better product and a great staff.”

Kushner also was quoted saying he expects the OC Register to be profitable this year.

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