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Thu April 17, 2014
Who's Crazy Enough To Start A Newspaper In 2014? Ask LA Register
Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 8:06 pm
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. Across the country, newspapers have been scaling back, if not shutting down. But in Los Angeles, there's a newspaper war going on. This week, for the first time in decades, the city has a new daily rolling off the presses. From member station KPCC, Ben Bergman reports.
BEN BERGMAN, BYLINE: So who would be crazy enough to start a newspaper in 2014? That would be Aaron Kushner, who until he bought the Orange County Register two years ago, had never worked a day in publishing. He was a greeting card executive.
AARON KUSHNER: Really, your two choices for a business, you either are growing or you're declining.
BERGMAN: Kushner has gone all-in with expansion, beefing up the OC Register's newsroom. And now he's making his boldest bet yet, launching the LA Register to go head to head with the LA Times.
KUSHNER: The LA Times is a very nice national newspaper. They, I think, compete well with The New York Times, and we're focused on local.
BERGMAN: How, exactly, the Register plans to better cover LA County's 88 different cities isn't clear. Kushner won't say how many reporters he's deploying, and he laid off dozens of journalists in January. And the first editions of the LA Register have been local but also fluffy, stuffed with lifestyle pieces about craft beer, the best LA movies and the hottest restaurants.
The paper's also hard to find. Kushner says copies are on sale at over 5,000 locations, but I couldn't find one - even at a big newsstand on the city's west side where there was a stack of New York Posts.
Do you have the LA Register?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No. I have...
BERGMAN: To succeed, the Register doesn't have to eat the LA Times as lunch; it just has to nibble around the edges, says media analyst Ken Doctor.
KEN DOCTOR: There's still a strong, very strong newspaper market and unbelievably, across the country, there's 30 million subscribers to daily newspapers.
BERGMAN: Still, Doctor is skeptical of the LA Register's 10-year plan. He doesn't think there'll be many newspaper readers left in a decade. For NPR News, I'm Ben Bergman in Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.