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Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

The Orange County Register is a daily newspaper based in Orange County, Calif. It is the second-largest newspaper in California and 14th largest newspaper in the U.S., with a combined 356,165 print and digital subscribers as of March 2013.

The paper originated as the Santa Ana Daily Register in 1905, changing names twice more before becoming the Orange County Register in 1985. It is a part of parent company Freedom Communications, which declared bankruptcy in 2009. The Register is now owned by Aaron Kushner’s 2100 Trust, which bought the company in 2012.

After years of declining staff numbers and a shrinking print product, Kushner has invested aggressively in the paper, hiring 175 newsroom employees and opening a Washington bureau and three new daily papers. Within a year, its owners reported they had invested $10 million to $15 million in investments. In January 2014, however, the Register laid off 32 staffers, including its four top editors. After the layoffs, the Register had about 370 employees, compared to about 200 before Kushner’s arrival. Later that year, the paper announced a round of buyouts across the company meant to cut 100 jobs.

He also launched a daily newspaper in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Register, in April 2014, as well as a set of community weeklies. Kushner said the new paper would be built around free-market principles. The Register launched with a news staff of about 40. In June 2014, the Long Beach Register, which had launched the previous year, was folded into the L.A. paper.

In April 2013, the Register instituted a hard paywall, with a price of $1 per day for digital, print, or both. The paywall includes time-based digital access, so Sunday subscribers get access to digital content only on Sundays.

Kushner is betting heavily on this strategy of targeting core readers—a bold move, given that most papers have embraced metered paywalls that allow for more casual reading. By adding pages and re-emphasizing the print product, it’s been called the anti-Advance strategy.

Kushner bought the Riverside Press-Enterprise in November 2013, though questions were raised about whether Kushner’s company, Freedom Communications, was financially solvent to run the paper after the purchase.

The Register began a content-sharing partnership with the nonprofit news organization Voice of OC in 2014.

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Primary author: Sarah Darville. Main text last updated: June 12, 2014.
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