At a time when daily newspapers are shrinking in staff size and number, the Orange County Register is growing with its latest attempt to launch a new six-days-a-week newspaper in Long Beach that will hit news racks, businesses and doorsteps starting Aug. 19.
Named the Long Beach Register, the publication will be a two-section broadsheet, averaging about 16 pages. The front section will include local news and feature articles while the back section will include stories on schools, sports and community events.
On Saturdays, subscribers will only receive the schools sections, which will include prep sports, according to an Orange County Register article that officially announced the newspaper launch on July 9. For subscribers only, the Long Beach daily will be bound with the regular Orange County Register, providing state, national and international news as well as business, religion and fashion sections.
Ian Lamont, who was the publisher of the Press-Telegram from 2001 to 2004, has been hired as the new daily’s publisher, while former Press-Telegram city editor Paul Eakins will become editor, according to the Orange County Register article.
Lamont told the Signal Tribune in a phone interview that there are still a lot of things to work out, such as leasing office space for newsroom staff and determining advertising, adding that it’s still early in the process.
“Right now, there’s more questions than answers,” he said.
Lamont refrained from talking about potential competition with his former employer, however he did say that Long Beach has been in need of a stronger daily-newspaper presence. For decades, the Press-Telegram has been the only daily newspaper in Long Beach, which in 2010 was the seventh largest city in California and had a population of just under half a million people.
“Long Beach, on a daily basis, has been an underserved media market,” Lamont said. “Being the size it is with the diversity it has, it deserves to have a daily newspaper that covers it.”
Lamont, who was also publisher of The Santa Clarita Valley Signal and owns an advertising and marketing firm, said the new newspaper’s readership is expected to include “anyone who wants to know on a daily basis what’s happening in and around Long Beach.” He added, “The foundation is essential and valued content… It’s geared to be a community newspaper.”
The newspaper’s distribution area will mostly be in Long Beach as well as parts of Lakewood, Cerritos, Artesia and Signal Hill, according to the article, which notes that the new daily will appear at local retail outlets and 450 news racks. At first, issues may be made available for free, the article states.
The move goes along with recent efforts by entrepreneurs Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz, who purchased the Orange County Register’s parent company Freedom Communications, Inc. about a year ago.
In an attempt to bolster the newspaper’s ties with readers, the company has decided to concentrate on covering specific communities, turning once weekly newspapers into nearly daily publications, most recently in Newport Beach and Irvine.
To do this, the new owners have aggressively expanded the company’s print operation, creating new positions, boosting newspaper staff by 70 percent and increasing the regular newspaper’s physical size as well.
The owners now see an opportunity to expand into neighboring Long Beach, located on the fringe of Los Angeles County, which the Irvine-based media company seldom covers. “In the case of Long Beach, it is a city where we really could add tremendous value,” Kushner was quoted as saying in the Orange County Register.
The new daily will now go directly up against the Long Beach Press-Telegram, which is currently owned by Los Angeles Newspaper Group (LANG) and has been Long Beach’s daily newspaper of record for decades. Amid financial struggles, however, LANG owners have implemented a number of changes in recent years, consolidating news staff with its sister paper, the Daily Breeze, based in Torrance while often being criticized for publishing regional stories instead of local news.