It has happened in newsrooms across the country. News breaks that somebody is buying a newspaper, undoubtedly at a deeply discounted price. Buyout-weary reporters and editors look around their own newsrooms filled with empty desks and wonder: "Who are these guys buying newspapers? Are they crazy?"

"Only a little bit," says Aaron Kushner, the new publisher of the Orange County Register, who in July led a private equity group in its acquisition of Freedom Communications Holdings, Inc., which owns the Register and five smaller dailies. "I do happen to relish a challenge."

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