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OC Register Owners To Launch Daily Newspaper In Long Beach;
Former Press-Telegram Publisher Ian Lamont Hired To Lead Effort

by George Economides - Publisher

July 1, 2013 - The Business Journal learned at press time that, beginning August 1, Long Beach residents are being offered a new option for daily local news when Freedom Communications, owner of the Orange County Register and more than 20 community publications, launches a newspaper in the city. Company executives recruited Ian Lamont, former publisher of the Press-Telegram, to serve as publisher of the new daily. The newspaper’s name may be revealed as soon as today.

The plan is for the new publication to run a minimum of 16 pages daily, with a 10-page section devoted to local news and a 6-page section for sports, education and other articles. The OC Register will be inserted into the new daily, so subscribers receive both publications – their local news from the new daily and state and national news from the Register.

“Long Beach is a wonderfully diverse city with a rich history and it deserves a robust, daily local paper that provides local news, features, opinion and sports coverage of the personality, culture and sense of this community,” Lamont told the Business Journal, after he was called to verify the Business Journal information was accurate. “Each day we will have in-depth stories about local people and the community issues that inspire, entertain and create anticipation for readers.”

Lamont said he’s excited about getting back to doing what he loves. He served as publisher of the Press-Telegram (P-T) from 2001 through 2004, during which time, according to Lamont, the newspaper’s circulation grew by 9 percent and Sunday circulation by 12 percent. In 2004 he was promoted by Media News Group, owner of the P-T, to run the firm’s Northern California Media Division. He and his wife returned to Long Beach in 2005. From 2008 through 2011, he served as publisher of the daily Santa Clarita Signal.

As the physical presence of the P-T in Long Beach has been reduced by its owner over the past several years, with most of its employees working from home or from their sister paper in Torrance, the Daily Breeze, there has been speculation that either the Register or the Los Angeles Times would enter the Long Beach market. The 2010 Census listed the city as the 36th most populated in the country. “It’s an underserved market,” Lamont observed.

The Register’s entrance to the city, according to Lamont, is one of several bold moves made by Freedom Communications since the new owners took over about a year ago. At a time when many newspaper companies continue to cut back, Freedom has been expanding its presence. The company, owned by CEO Aaron Kushner and President Eric Spitz, has added about 300 employees, grown the newsroom staff by 70 percent, reopened a Washington, D.C., office earlier this year, and increased the physical size of the Register by 50 percent, Lamont said.

When asked about an office location, staffing, subscriber goal and other items, Lamont said he had “just been hired” and did not have answers yet. “Call me in a week.”