The December 7, 2005 front page of
The Orange County Register
|Headquarters||625 North Grand Avenue
Santa Ana, California 92701
The Orange County Register is a daily newspaper published in Santa Ana, California. The Register has the third largest paid daily circulation in California, behind only the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle. The Register is the flagship publication of Freedom Communications, Inc., which publishes 28 daily newspapers, 23 weekly newspapers, Coast magazine, and several related Internet sites.
The Register is notable for its generally conservative/libertarian-leaning editorial page. It often supports Republican politicians and positions, but it is also the largest newspaper in the country to have opposed the Iraq war from the beginning and opposes laws regulating issues such as prostitution and drug use. It was one of a handful of newspapers that opposed the internment of Japanese aliens and Japanese-Americans during World War II. It also opposed Proposition 8 in 2008, which proposed a ban on same-sex marriage.
The Register was founded by a consortium as the Santa Ana Daily Register in 1905. It was sold to J.P. Baumgartner in 1906 and to J. Frank Burke in 1927. In 1935 it was bought by R.C. Hoiles, who renamed it the Santa Ana Register and reorganized his holdings as Freedom Newspapers, Inc. in 1950, later Freedom Communications. The paper was renamed The Register in 1952.
In 1956, the newspaper was a prominent supporter of a vociferous campaign by anti-communists against the Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act, claiming that the Act was part of a communist plot to establish concentration camps in Alaska.
Circulation rose with the burgeoning population of Orange County and after The Register added a morning edition in 1959. In 1970 Hoiles' son Clarence became co-publisher with his brother Harry until 1979, when R. David Threshie, Clarence's son-in-law, was named to the position.
Faced with an aggressive push into the county by the Los Angeles Times under then publisher Otis Chandler, Threshie brought in 30-year-old editor N. Christian Anderson III to increase the professionalism of the paper. Political positions were restricted to the editorial page. In 1981, the paper began publishing in full color.
In 1985, the paper was renamed yet again to The Orange County Register. In the same year it won its first Pulitzer Prize, for its photographic coverage of the 1984 Summer Olympics in nearby Los Angeles. It won additional Pulitzers in 1989 for beat reporting by Edward Humes on U.S. military problems with night vision goggles and 1996 for an investigation into Ricardo Asch's fertility clinics.
In 1992, Orange County Register Communications launched Excélsior, a Spanish-language weekly. Excélsior currently has a circulation of 51,000 and covers Orange County's burgeoning Hispanic community, which now numbers over 1 million. Julio Saenz is the Editor and General Manager.
In 1999, Threshie became Chairman of the Board for Freedom Communications and N. Christian Anderson III assumed the position of publisher and CEO. Ken Brusic was named vice president of content and executive editor in April 2002
In 2004, a family schism led to a sale of a majority interest in Freedom Communications to investors led by the Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners. Through a stock arrangement, the Hoiles family descendants retained control of the board.
In 2006, Orange County Register Communications launched the OC Post, a tabloid with shortened versions of Register stories as well as news articles from the Associated Press. The paper also had its first significant staff reductions in December 2006, with 40 newsroom employees taking buyouts, along with a small number of layoffs.
By April 2007, the Orange County Register had made cuts to help maintain shareholder profit, which had averaged more than 20 percent annually in the preceding five years. Since the launch of the OC Post in 2006, OCRC has cut the Register's editorial staff by 10 percent, eliminated its 3-percent holiday bonuses for editorial staff, and postponed pay raises to editorial staff - which had averaged 3 percent annually - for six months. In September 2007, Terry Horne replaced N. Christian Anderson III as publisher.
In June 2008, KTLA and The Los Angeles Times reported that the Register had even begun a trial of outsourcing layout and editing work to India in order to save costs. In spring of 2009, Freedom Communications instituted furloughs for all employees nationwide, followed by a permanent 5-percent pay cut starting in July 2009. News reports in August 2009 indicated that Freedom Communications planned to file for bankruptcy and turn control of its publications, including The Orange County Register, over to its lenders.
In September 2009, a column written by sports columnist Mark Whicker caused controversy. In the column, Whicker wrote about various sporting events that occurred over the preceding 18 years, and how they had been missed by Jaycee Dugard, a girl who had been kidnapped, raped, and forced to bear her kidnapper's children. Whicker ended his column with the line "Jaycee, you have left the yard." The column generated widespread criticism and was parodied in blogs such as Deadspin, who called it "the single worst piece of journalism ever committed on this page," and the Huffington Post.