Modifications for a reputable IE publication
By Alex Distefano
As the demand for print news has seen a drastic decline over the past few decades, due to the rise of content on the internet, newspapers are facing very difficult times indeed. Print newsrooms across the nation seem to be switching to online formats and/or downsizing to smaller staffs, cutting their circulation and readership.
Add the high levels of unemployment, and the looming dilemmas of the debt ceiling and Federal Government shutdown, and it just makes the economic downturn hit the print journalism industry even harder. Many have even argued that newspapers are slowly dying, and will be replaced by social media platforms, blogs and video reports.
But, the Southern California region seems to be home to a positive trend in journalism and business: regional, yet community based newspapers that actually succeed. Now, a major move among local publications has occurred. The Inland Empire’s own The Press-Enterprise has been bought for just over $27 million dollars, with the deal scheduled to finalize in mid Oct. The deal is also to include the newspaper’s production facility where the paper is pressed, and the company’s website, www.pe.com.
The Press-Enterprise was recently purchased by Freedom Communications, which also owns the Orange County Register and several other Southern California regional newspapers. Owner of Freedom Communications Inc., Aaron Kushner, bought the newspaper that serves Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, from A.H. Bello Corporation, a company based out of Dallas, Texas, which had owned The Press-Enterprise for the past 16 years.
The recent decline in readership over the past few years, and decreased advertising revenue at the Press Telegram led to a series of layoffs and other cutbacks the paper was forced to make. In 2006, the newspaper employed 1,165 full and part-time positions, now it has shrunk to 375. The Press-Enterprise has a current weekly circulation of 137,600, with a Sunday circulation of 161,000, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Former owner A.H. Bello’s records show that during the first six months of this year, the paper’s revenue fell 17 percent.
But, if you thought this was a deterrent for Kushner, you thought wrong. Kushner has become a sort of local newspaper mogul, and is credited with keeping local community newspapers alive and vital in portions of Southern California. Last year he hired more reporters and editors for the Orange County Register, and added regional editions of the paper, including the new five-day daily, the Long Beach Register. With The Press-Enterprise, he hops this upward trend for local based print publications will continue.
“The Press-Enterprise is a Pulitzer Prize-winning institution with a rich history in serving and connecting the community,” said Aaron Kushner in a recent statement from Oct.10, regarding the purchase of the newspaper. “We are most appreciative of the stewardship provided to this important institution by A. H. Belo and we look forward to continuing to build upon that foundation and expand the ways The Press-Enterprise helps its subscribers, advertisers and community grow and thrive.” Kushner, has met with the staff of The Press-Enterprise, and according to reports in the Orange County Register, he has plans to use a similar business model for the IE based newspaper: lots of local coverage, with a subscriber base and emphasis on local photos and news stories.