Aaron Kushner’s Wrecking Ball

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By: Gustavo Arellano | Orange County Weekly

They glumly marched into the third-floor newsroom of The Orange County Register’s Santa Ana headquarters on June 9: editors, reporters, bureau chiefs, sales reps, the copy desk, photographers—almost the entire staff, gathering to hear their fate. Nearly two years to the day, Boston businessman Aaron Kushner had bought the paper and its parent company, Freedom Communications, and quickly made national news with a bold strategy: hire reporters instead of laying them off. Increase page counts instead of cutting back. Focus on print instead of digital. Start new dailies and acquire others instead of shedding them. More than 350 new hires, including about 170 on the editorial side, signed onto his vision, invigorating the Register in a way that veterans say recalled the glory days of the 1990s, when Pulitzers were won and the Sunday edition was thick enough to crush a cat.

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