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The incredible growing newspaper: Orange County Register

If there’s one paper you won’t see cutting its publishing frequency or eliminating departments it’s the Orange County Register. Instead, Freedom Communications’ increasing growth has yet to slow down since Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz took ownership of the newspaper company last year.

Unlike Advance Publications, which continues to pare down its newspapers’ frequency in places like New Orleans and Cleveland, the OC Register is launching dailies and expanding frequency. Just last week, the newspaper announced the launch of the Long Beach Register, slated to debut Aug. 19.

According to OCRegister.com, the paper will be the first subscriber-based daily to launch in a major U.S. market in a while. The paper will be delivered to subscribers Monday through Friday with the OC Register and will be available at newsstands in single copy form.

But Long Beach isn’t the only community served by the Register to get a daily. In May, The Current, a weekly serving Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, expanded its frequency to Monday through Friday. More recently, the paper expanded the twice-weekly Irvine World News to five days a week as well. The Register is also bringing back old friends when it relaunched the Santa Ana Register last month as a Thursday weekly.

The paper continues to grow with news sections as well, including the most recent addition of a new boating feature that debuted earlier this month in the paper’s sports section called On The Water. The section will also appear in The Current on Mondays and in the Huntington Beach Wave and Dana Point News on Thursdays.

Last Month, the paper added OC Family, a standalone section running every Tuesday that includes stories, advice on education, health and shopping, as well as featuring a weekly OC Family Calendar. Also earlier in June, the paper launched a monthly 10-page Pets section, as well as a special summertime driving guide to road trips and vacations.

Unlike many other news organizations where the occasional round of layoffs remains the norm, the Register continues to add to its staff numbers. In May, Louis Casiano was hired to cover Placentia, Eric Hartley joined The Current as a police and courts reporter in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, while Josh Stewart joined the paper at the end of April to cover the city of Tustin.

As the Register grows, it’s hard not to see the vast differences in models when compared to Advance Publications, which has cut frequencies at major papers and will most likely continue to do so.  After attending the annual convention of the American Society of News Editors, USA Today columnist Sam Rieder pointed out the disparities between the two different news organizations:

“Talk about a study in contrasts. One was a vision of an industry in rapid decline, one that needed to scale back dramatically on its beleaguered core product and reinvent itself to prevent a ‘descent into irrelevancy.’ The other was a commitment to a major, and seriously contrarian, expansion of that core product, with heavy spending on new staffing and bulked-up content under the theory that if it’s good enough, despite dire predictions to the contrary, the customers will come,” he wrote.

If both models can eventually flourish, it would truly make for a diverse newspaper marketplace. But regardless of growth or cutbacks, the newspaper’s ability to survive in print remains an uncertain future.

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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