It’s the end of the road for libertarian R.C. Hoiles’ modest media empire. Freedom Communications Inc. announced this morning the sale of all that remains of its company (seven daily newspapers, including its flagship, The Orange County Register) to 2100 Trust LLC, a company founded in 2009 that had been trying to break in to the mass media business.
Previously, after navigating through a debt-fueled bankruptcy restructuring, Freedom Communications sold off all its television stations and newspapers in the Midwest, Texas, North Carolina, and Florida. The properties sold today, held in California, Arizona and Colorado, will conclude the dismantling of the former family-owned company, founded in the 1930s. At its height, the company owned more than 100 daily, weekly and specialty newspapers.
The seven papers that remain in Freedom Communications mark 2100 Trust’s entry into media ownership. CEO Aaron Kushner had previously attempted to buy The Boston Globe in 2011 for $200 million, as well as newspapers in Maine, without success.
Not a lot is known about Kushner’s politics; he has donated to candidates in both parties. Given his lack of history in the media (prior to founding 2100 Trust he ran a greeting card company), there’s no way of knowing whether he will attempt to assert any influence on his papers’ editorial views. All current employees of the properties will keep their jobs, according to a Freedom Communications release.
For those interested in how the libertarian Hoiles family lost control of the company, Orange County Register Interim Publisher Ken Brusic narrates a short video describing the company’s past and the family’s squabbles.