OC Register to Buy Riverside Press-Enterprise

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This morning, workers with the Riverside Press-Enterprise and the Orange County Register will attend separate town halls at their respective offices. The reason for the meetings is the same: the announcement that Freedom Communications, the Reg's parent company, will purchase the P-E.

Reporters in Riverside "are scared shitless," according to one, who requested anonymity. Reporters off Grand Street, on the other hand, have no idea why they're being called into the R.C. Hoiles Auditorium...until reading this story.

I had heard about this yesterday afternoon, but I wish I could get official confirmation on this story, the Reg's Czar of Misinformation, Eric Morgan, doesn't talk to me anymore wouldn't respond to my request for confirmation until early this morning, AFTER the Reg's Czarina of Misinformation, Mary Ann Milbourn (who has the unenviable task of writing up every story concerning the Register) published her own story. It represents an interesting strategy for Reg owner Aaron Kushner. He has been long rumored to want the Los Angeles Times, but with Tribune no longer wanting to sell the Times on its own, Kushner seems to want to put a pincer move on the paper, with the Reg in OC, his newish Long Beach Register in LBC--and, if it's confirmed, out in the Inland Empire with the P-E.

But the Reg's reporters are increasingly chafing under Kushner's expansionist plans: the salaries of veteran reporters who took pay cuts during the lean years haven't been restored, their 401k contributions are no longer being matched, and rumors are that the paper is losing mucho dinero in Kushner's grand scheme to become journalism's Jesus. If the P-E deal is finalized, will they hail it as further proof of Kushner's genius--or wonder why all those millions couldn't go into their pockets?

Email: garellano@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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