Los Angeles Register newspaper ends publication, five months after launch

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Register, launched just five months ago in an attempt to challenge larger competitors in the city including the Los Angeles Times, ended publication of its print edition on Tuesday due to a lack of readers, the publisher said.

A stack of debut issues of Los Angeles Register newspapers is placed at Union Station to be distributed by the newspaper staff to commuters of Union Station in Los Angeles April 16, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

Freedom Communications, publisher of the Orange County Register and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, was widely seen as taking a bold risk in starting the Los Angeles Register in April by seeking to overcome declining readership for newspapers.

“The Los Angeles Register made us proud every day of how compelling a newspaper our team could produce from scratch in such a large market,” Aaron Kushner, co-owner and CEO of Freedom Communications, said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear how many journalists at the publication might be laid off due to the closure.

When the newspaper launched in April, it had a news staff of more than 40 people, according to a report from the time in the Orange County Register.

Community support for the newspaper was not strong enough to allow for continued publication, Kushner said. But the Los Angeles Register will maintain a Web presence.

“There will be some staff changes with our content team as part of the changes in Los Angeles,” according to a Freedom Communications memo to employees posted on the website LA Observed. “For those that will be leaving, we say thank you.”

The memo said that Freedom Communications, in ending publication of the Los Angeles Register, would focus on its core news markets of Orange County and Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The newspaper’s competitors were the much larger Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News, and its launch came amid falling advertising revenue for newspapers and the migration of readers away from print and toward mobile devices.

Kushner, when he launched the Los Angeles Register, said it would be available in 6,000 retail outlets.

The Orange County Weekly, citing a circulation report obtained by the publication, reported earlier this month that the Los Angeles Register had a total weekday circulation in June and July of 6,231.

The front-page announcement on Tuesday by the paper that it would be the last edition came a day after Kushner announced the company had sold the Santa Ana headquarters of the Orange County Register to a local developer for $27 million.

Freedom will lease back the building, according to a report in the Orange County Register.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Diane Craft