Freedom Communications owners Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz
The new owners of Irvine, CA-based Freedom Communications, parent company to the 107-year-old Orange County Register, dropped a reported $200 million to buy the company in July of 2012. They were planning to right a sinking ship by investing in its structure. They hired seasoned journalists and reporters, new editors and sales people. They resurrected newspaper sections that were dropped due to budget cuts and invented new sections to keep the reader engaged. If they succeeded, not only would they have saved a regional media company, they may in fact have saved an industry. Unfortunately their vision wasn't realized and the company filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Just as they arrived in Orange County, I interviewed 39-year-old Kushner in his office at the Register's Grand Avenue building, overlooking the 5 Freeway. I spoke with Spitz at length by phone. I was writing their profile as honorees for OC METRO's Hottest 25 People of O.C. annual feature. I didn't ask Kusher what his specific strategy was. From previous reports I had learned that he holds that pretty close to the vest, saying only quality content will bring back subscribers and then advertisers will follow. I asked him where his confidence comes from. His reply was that there was no reason to have some super-sized level of confidence. He feels strongly that if you write it - and write it well - they will come.