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New Owner Takes Over P-E & OC Register; Scores Of Register Staffers Fired

The Los Angeles Times reports that yesterday -- the very day that Digital First Media took over ownership of Riverside’s Press-Enterprise and the Orange County Register from bankrupt Freedom Communications – that more than 70 OC Register staff were laid off  from the paper’s editorial, circulation, advertising and marketing departments.  In a story published yesterday, The Times says the editor of the OC Register, Rob Curley, confirmed that yesterday [Thursday] was his last day at the paper.

The nearly $50 million dollar deal transferring ownership of The Orange County Register and the Press Enterprise officially closed yesterday morning.  Mere hours later, the Times says anonymous sources associated with the Register reported the wave of layoffs at the Santa Ana-based daily. 

The L.A. Times report included this statement from a news release from Digital First Media: “We are extremely excited to usher in a new era of stability, profitability and quality for these renowned papers.  The Register and the Press-Enterprise have been longtime leaders in their regions, and as part of the DFM team, they will continue to outshine the competition.”

In reporting on layoffs at the Register, the Press-Enterprise reported in an article published yesterday on its website saying, “At The Press-Enterprise there were an additional eight layoffs, including two in editorial, Opinion Page Editor Joseph Perkins, and Orlando Ramirez, Publisher of La Prensa and Excelisor.  Digital First Media is expected to announce its hiring decisions on Friday.”

Digital First, one of the nation’s largest newspaper publishing companies, already owns several papers in Inland Southern California.  The Press-Enterprise joins The San Bernardino Sun, The Redlands Daily Facts, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and the Pasadena Star-News, and the Whittier Daily News as part of Digital First’s subsidiary, Los Angeles News Group.  That subsidiary, which Digital first announced this week will now become the Southern California News Group, also runs several coastal Southern California papers, including the Los Angeles Daily News, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, and the Torrance Daily Breeze. 

The L.A. Times reports Digital First bought Freedom Communications  for $49.8 million after a week that saw a higher bid in bankruptcy court from Tribune Publishing — parent company of the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union Tribune  — derailed by Justice Department intervention on antitrust grounds.

Ken Vincent has retired. We appreciate the way he shared his expertise with many of our young interns and reporters over the nearly eight years he spent as KVCR's lead journalist and Morning Edition host. We wish him a happy and relaxing retirement as he spends more time in his garden and, as he mentioned, more time on the golf course. Thanks Ken!
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