The parent company of more than 100 publications emerged from bankruptcy on Friday with a new stable of owners. After being run for nearly 75 years by the Hoiles family, Freedom Co. is now controlled by a group of investment firms.
Freedom’s flagship newspaper, the Orange County Register, has a story chronicling the rise and fall of the media company. Plenty of family drama and bad decisions, but there were other factors at play:
Freedom took a major hit in 2007 when Orange County became ground zero for the mortgage industry meltdown. The Register was one of the first papers to feel the recession. Freedom’s other properties soon followed.
The change in Freedom’s fortunes was dramatic. In its bankruptcy filing, the company said revenue plunged $226 million in 20 months, from early 2008 through August 2009.
There were layoffs and cutbacks, pay freezes and furloughs. Insiders said the final blow was the multimillion-dollar settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by newspaper carriers against the Register. The family had run out of options. Freedom filed for bankruptcy protection Sept. 1, 2009.
Previously on FBLA:
Photo from OCRegister.com