SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — The co-owners of Freedom Communications Inc. and its flagship newspaper, the Orange County Register, resigned Tuesday from all executive duties, more than two years after buying the firm and pushing through sweeping — but whiplash — changes.
Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz announced their decision to employees, although Spitz will stay on as Freedom's chairman of the board, working with investors and the board of directors, the Register reported (http://bit.ly/1E4gurI).
"It has been a privilege and honor to serve as a leader of this institution," Kushner told the newsroom. "Thank you for hard work, your patience and commitment to the Register."
Publisher Rich Mirman, a former casino marketing executive who has run day-to-day operations since last fall, assumed executive duties as Freedom's chief executive and president.
He already was the Register's interim publisher and chief executive, taking over those posts from Kushner when he was hired.
"The message is that five months ago, we developed a plan on how to move forward," Mirman said Tuesday. "I'm committed to that and confident that plan is going to be successful."
Mirman, who has both bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics, is a former executive at Nevada-based casino and resort operator Harrah's Entertainment, since renamed Caesars Entertainment. He worked in several positions from 1997 to 2007, including senior vice president of business development and chief marketing officer.
Freedom was sold to Kushner, Spitz and their 2100 Trust in 2012.
The company concentrated on its print product at a time when other newspapers were focusing online. The new owners doubled the Register's newsroom staff, added new sections, bought the Riverside Press-Enterprise and launched a new paper, the Los Angeles Register, which was seen as a potential competitor to the Los Angeles Times but ceased publication last September after just five months.
That failure led to a round of layoffs — one of several ups and downs during Kushner's tenure.
The Register last year also heard from irate subscribers who said their papers weren't being delivered after it switched distributors.
The Los Angeles Times had a contract to deliver both the Los Angeles and Orange County Registers but ended the deal last fall after the Register switched to alternative vendors.
The Times has sued, alleging breach of contract and failure to pay several million dollars in delivery fees.
Kushner contended that the Register had no choice but to seek a new delivery service because the Times had refused to guarantee uninterrupted deliveries.
Information from: The Orange County Register, http://www.ocregister.com