Times Media Group acquires Laguna Beach Independent, Firebrand Media

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Arizona-based Times Media Group (TMG) has acquired Firebrand Media as of July 1.

Firebrand Media is the publisher of the Laguna Beach Independent, the Newport Beach Independent and the Coast Real Estate Guide, as well as regional publications Laguna Beach Magazine and Newport Beach Magazine.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to add the Firebrand team and its great products to Times Media Group,” said Steve Strickbine, TMG’s founder and president in a TMG release. “Firebrand’s commitment to excellence and good journalism makes them a perfect fit for partnering and moving forward with our overall growth plans. Add to that the custom publishing arm of their business, and Firebrand introduces a whole new set of opportunities for us to bring value to our advertisers and readers.”

Steve Zepezauer, the founder and general partner of Firebrand Media, will join TMG as its director of custom publishing. Zepezauer has lived in Orange County for more than 20 years, launched Laguna Beach Magazine in 2007 and acquired the Laguna Beach Independent in 2009. Shortly after, he launched the Newport Beach Independent, the Coastal Real Estate Guide and other custom publishing projects.

“Hyper-local journalism and targeted, branded content is at the core of everything we do,” Zepezauer said.

Times Media Group, based in Tempe, Ariz., owns more than 35 weekly publications in Arizona and California. In August of 2023, it acquired Picket Fence Media, home of the Dana Point Times, San Clemente Times and Capistrano Dispatch.

“Every week, more than a million readers in communities large and small turn to our pages and websites for the news and happenings in the neighborhood they call home,” Strickbine said. “Ten years ago, I never would have imagined we’d grow to have such a large footprint and so many loyal readers. We are honored to be the stewards of that trust as a true source for news in a rapidly changing media environment.”

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