At the beginning of December 2013, Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner was seemingly on top of his empire-building game.
|Will those little cute papers be smiling on Monday?|
Just a year and a half after acquiring Freedom Communications, the Boston businessman had completed the purchase of the Riverside Press-Enterprise, four months after having launched the daily Long Beach Register. Plans were in the works to launch yet another new daily - the Los Angeles Register, which would battle the Los Angeles Times in its own turf. Longtime Freedom community weeklies in Irvine and Newport Beach had been turned into dailies, and staffing at the Reg had ballooned to around 370, near the height of the paper's glory days in the 1990s.
Hiccups had occurred along the way--the P-E's previous owners, the A.H. Belo Corporation, had threatened not to go through with the sale after Kushner couldn't meet certain thresholds, and Freedom's previous owners had sued Kushner over allegations he owed them money. But Kushner was still riding a wave of positive national press for apparently doing the impossible: not only expanding a daily newspaper in a time of endless layoffs and budget cuts, but making it thrive.
Privately, though, Kushner was fretting.More »