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Southern California newspaper defies trend to shrink costs

  • Some front pages and section fronts of the Orange County Register are seen in the newsroom in Santa Ana, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. After years of demoralizing layoffs, one newspaper is trying something novel: hiring more reporters. The Orange County Register’s new owner thinks the way to turn the paper around is through better reporting to lure new and former readers to a revived product. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

SANTA ANA — New and expanded sections to cover business, automobiles and food. A nearly five-fold increase in community news pages and more investigative reporting. Even daily color comics.

It feels like a throwback to an earlier era at the Orange County Register, where a first-time newspaper owner is defying conventional wisdom by spending heavily to expand the printed edition and playing down digital formats.

Aaron Kushner added about 75 journalists and, with 25 more coming, will have expanded the newsroom by half since his investment group bought the nation's 20th-largest newspaper by circulation in July.

Changes also include thicker pages with triple the number of colors to produce razor-sharp photos and graphics. By the end of March, the newspaper will have 40 percent more space than under previous owners, Freedom Communications Inc.

Kushner, 39, believes people will pay for high-quality news. His bet is remarkable in an industry where newspapers have shrunk their way to profits for years, slashing costs while seeking clicks on often-free websites to attract online advertising.


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