Stop the presses! Newspaper owner hiring staff to improve content

By Peter Weinberger

After hearing negative news from the newspaper industry for years now, I’m starting to believe that newsprint might just be around for a while. I say this not because Warren Buffet invests in media companies, but for a truly surprise announcement from the new owner of the Orange County Register.

In my view, the Register has, in recent years, demonstrated traits of the worst trends happening to newspapers and their websites. They not only had countless cuts of editorial staff, but the value of a reporter or photographer was measured by the number of hits their work generated on their website. Reporters were so paranoid about hit counts some would show up with a camera to shoot at assignments. It didn’t matter if a staff photographer was already there shooting. They would shoot more pictures and publish their own slideshow, just to get credit for driving hits to the website.

The paper’s content suffered in an effort to be trendy or hip, and in most cases it was written for a third grader. As a former employee of the Register (I was the director of photographer long ago), all these developments made me quite sad, especially for the former colleagues that still work there.

But the new Register owner and publisher Aaron Kushner changed all that in an instant. Mr. Kushner believes the path to success should focus on subscribers. Give them a publication with good content and information they value, and they will also be good customers. That means more pages with news, in-depth reporting and storytelling to enhance their publications. Publications readers will want to pay for…in print and online.

Now I could brag and say the Register just copied the COURIER business model, but the point here is the newspaper will be hiring 25 people to improve the journalism based on this approach.

One website reporting this story said staffers were being driven “crazy.” That may be with the online editors, but I get a much different version from the people producing the newspaper each day. They said for the first time in years, the ownership actually cares about producing quality work and is not trying to cut their way to profits. I mean, what’s not to like about hiring 25 more people?

I wish the Orange County Register staff and ownership luck. Meaningful change will not happen overnight, but this is a good start. And of course, I am available for a consultation anytime.


Subscription discount continues until September 19

I hope by now most of you have noticed we knocked $10 off the price of a year subscription to the COURIER. This is a big deal for us, since we rarely discount subscriptions.

Based on a Facebook comment, at least one person views this as bad news for the COURIER and hard times for the newspaper. That could not be further from the truth.

We have 2 goals here in offering this discount. First, with so many loyal subscribers, I have long wanted to say thank you! That’s why the discount applies to everyone—new and current subscribers.

The other thing is we want our readers to use to purchase subscriptions. In the long run, it’s less expensive for us and we are passing the savings along. That’s why this is an online only discount., a nationally known company working with small businesses, handles our credit card transactions. We only use your credit card once and the information is not saved. Your email is required, but it also serves as your username to get full access to our website. All emails are kept on a secure server, are not given out and you will only hear from us 30 days before your subscription ends. Your privacy and our customer service are very important to us.

With printing and postage costs only going up, now is a good time to take advantage of this one-time special.


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