One of the ballyhooed initiatives from the short-lived Aaron Kushner regime at the Orange County Register was the investment in community weeklies, those throwaway papers you see next to OC Weekly racks in various county cities. Staffing was doubled at nearly all of them, from the Anaheim Bulletin to the Fullerton Tribune to the reboot of the Santa Ana Register and the transformation of the Irvine World News into a daily, among others. Those glory days are long-gone, of course, after Kushner’s inglorious exit and the Reg’s bankruptcy last year.
And now, the other shoe is dropping: multiple sources tell the Weekly that the Register is shutting down a chingo of its weeklies after next week’s editions. In addition, there are plans to close the Anaheim bureau and probably the San Clemente offices, as well.
Among the papers on the chopping block? Those covering Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Brea, Placentia, La Habra, Laguna Woods, Dana Point, Garden Grove, Laguna Beach, Rancho Santa Margarita, and others. There are no layoffs planned for now—but no one at Grand Street is believing the reassurances of editors.
“We’re about to be sold in bankruptcy court,” one reporter told the Weekly, “and we’re still trying to get out of the Kushner fiasco. You don’t think the new boss won’t come in and clean up even more house? Please.”
If the Register does shut down the above weeklies, they’ll also be killing parts of Orange County journalism history in the remnants of formerly independent newspapers that the Register gutted long ago. The Brea-La Habra Star-Progress, for instance, is what’s left of the Brea Progress and the La Habra Star, that date back to the foundation of each city (the Star, in particular, goes back to 1916). The Garden Grove Journal was originally a daily founded in 1983; the Laguna News-Post dates back to 1915, when it was founded as Laguna Life (it got its current name in 1967). I can go on, but what am I: The Reg’s historian (at this point, probably).
Besides, since when have the post-Hoiles owner of the Register cared about OC history?