The Holy Grail of publishing is a captive audience–ask The Daily Racing Form or King James. Following the formula, the Churm Custom Publishing Company (a division of Freedom Communications), has taken over the Orange County Catholic in California, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange’s monthly newspaper for parishioners. Next month, the tabloid monthly will transition into a weekly and include 24 pages of “in-depth features on leaders, trends, activities, family life, faith experience and culture in the county’s parishes, Catholic centers, schools and ministries.” Just a little church bulletin operation, you think? According to OC Bishop Kevin W. Vann, the local Catholic community has grown in the past decade to 1.2 million. (The print circulation of the New York Times, for perspective, is around 730,000.) Given those numbers, Freedom will start slow: 30,000 copies of the new Orange County Catholic will be distributed to local parishes every Wednesday.
Freedom Communications also owns the Orange County Register, the daily newspaper that has undergone a dynamic transition led by Freedom CEO Aaron Kushner and his investment partner Eric Spitz. Both are from the East Coast and neither had newspaper experience, but they’ve sure been welcome at the OCR: they hired more writers (the newsroom has doubled to 360 in the past year) to improve local coverage and started charging readers $1 a day (in print or online). 22 weekly sections have been added, which allows reporters to cover everything from political resignations to restaurants to high school soccer games. The Register sells about 130,000 copies during the week, and 300,000 on Sundays.