By: Mark Fitzgerald
N. Christian Anderson III, the publisher and CEO of The Orange County Register, is E&P’s Publisher of the Year, the magazine announced today.
In the cover profile for its May print issue — which will be available to subscribers online on Tuesday — E&P explains that the Register under Anderson’s leadership is “pointing a path for newspaper revitalization” in an extraordinarily challenging time for the industry.
The E&P honor also recognizes Anderson?s crucial role in shaping the very identity of Orange County: ?It’s no exaggeration to say that an amorphous area known for Disneyland, orange groves, and pretty much nothing else, became ‘The O.C.’ in large part because of the work of Chris Anderson and the Register he began transforming as a 30-year-old editor just arrived from Walla Walla, Washington.?
As publisher, he has recently pushed to create an impressive portfolio of products, many of them — like the young adult-oriented Squeeze OC and the luxury Coast regional magazine brand extensions — betraying no hint they are siblings of the Register. Anderson has created and broken apart a series of corporate organizations to keep nimble in the newspaper economy’s riptide.
E&P says OC Post, the paid five-day tabloid launched seven months ago, may be ?the first American quick-read tabloid to truly figure out how to repackage content from the mother paper in ways that lure stubborn non-readers.?
Anderson, 56, was hired as editor in 1980 to transform the Register from a mediocre daily in danger of losing its home county to the Los Angeles Times under the aggressive leadership of Otis Chandler. He quickly created a newspaper known for its innovative design and graphics, and a newsroom of professionals who have won three Pulitzer Prizes since his arrival.
All the while, the paper has retained its unconventional libertarian editorial viewpoint. It was one of the first, and strongest, opponents of the war in Iraq.
Anderson, a past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, is a leading voice for the newspaper industry who now is helping CEO Scott Flanders create a more collaborative culture among the sprawling properties of Freedom Communications. He was named associate publisher of the Register in 1992, and two years later became president and publisher of Freedom?s second-biggest daily, The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo. He returned to the Register as president and publisher in 1999.
N. (for Nelson) Christian Anderson and his wife Aletha, a former editor with The Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times, have four children.