Dispatches from the Front by Burl Burlingame Updated 05/23/10
This site contains archival materials and personal observations about Gannett's attempt to monopolize newspaper business in Honolulu in violation of anti-trust law and in defiance of democratic principles.

It is one journalist's opinion of the struggle, a view from inside the muddy, bloody trenches.
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TODAY The Final Countdown — May, 2010
I've decided to revive this shuttered Honolulu Newspaper War website, which was closed down at the end of 2003. Events for May 2010 are listed below.

I'm too much of an inveterate historian to allow this extraordinary time to pass by without documentation, but this time out, I'll largely stick to data collection instead of cheerleading, thank you.

In 2003, there seemed no point in continuing the site, which had begun as a tiny yapping dog worrying the heels of big, bad Gannett. But by the end of that year, the war had settled into stalemate and the Star-Bulletin had "won" by surviving. The period from then until now has been marked by newspaper closures throughout the nation, largely because of fiscal irregularities by parent corporations. That hasn't been the case in the Star-Bulletin, whose owner David Black is smart and patient, but we still feel the ripples caused by larger ships going under. But Black was supporting the Star-Bulletin even when it was losing money. That couldn't continue.

Over this period, we've also grown to genuinely like and respect David Black, who never fails to know us by name and has some idea of our work, unlike owners we've had in the past. We all grieved when his wife Annabeth died. I recall her scouring the shops of Honolulu, hunting up used office furniture so we'd have desks and chairs, bless her.

In counterpoint, I offer Gannett executive John Jaske, who once skipped out on a meeting with Honolulu Newspaper Guild members because it was foxhunting season in Virginia.

The events of February 2010 are on the February 2010 page, as are the events of March 2010 and April 2010. Organized, yeah? See the links to the left.

05/02/10 In the crystal ball
A Star-Bulletin analysis of Gannett's time in the islands contains a lot of details about the future, actually.

05/02/10 Reading the ti leaves
Former Advertiser Big Island bureau guy Hugh Clark speculates on Gannett's actual motive on selling the Advertiser. Readers commenting bring it around to the reality of money.

05/03/10 Goodby Gannett!
At one minute after midnight, this day, ownership of the Honolulu Advertiser transferred to Black Press, ending Gannett's four-decade run at looting the islands.

05/03/10 Insult to injury
Editor & Publisher, now an online publication, announces Honolulu Officially a One-Paper Town: 'Star-Bulletin' Sold, which is, or course, wrong. The story is accurate, however. They don't respond to pleas to fix the headline for a couple of days.

Hawaii News Now's Howard Dicus also gets several facts wrong in his story.

But Star-Bulletin publisher Dennis Francis has the most telling quote: "I know there's a lot of angst in the community about losing a newspaper but the community decided long ago that it could not support two newspapers," Francis said. "That decision was made by readers and advertisers."

05/05/10 Keep a Civil Beat in your head
Econsultancy takes a look at Honolulu Civil Beat, the supposed "new thing" in community journalism.

05/05/10 Thank you for your service
Something like 24 hours after taking over operations of the Honolulu Advertiser, HA Management gave more than 500 staffers layoff notices. The timing has to do with the required 60-day plant-closing layoffs law, and the notices state that the business part of the consolidation will occur between July 3 and July 17. The two papers will be merged long before that, however.

05/13/10 The cost of staying alive
Approximately 400 people, from both papers, will lose their jobs serving Hawaii's newspaper readers when the plants merge. The start date for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is June 7, 2010 — Vol. 129, Issue 127, of the paper that began as the Daily Bulletin posted in the window of a stationery store on Honolulu's waterfront.

05/18/10 Silence on the future
Some Honolulu Advertiser employees have had job interviews with the Star-Advertiser, and others have not. None have gotten callbacks, however, since new staffing levels have not yet been decided.

03/23/10 Tin cups are optional
The Advertiser's Vicki Viotti blogged this day on the weirdness of seeking employment after decades in one profession. This is very difficult and hitting close to home. I've known Viotti for many years — she actually succeeded me as editor of a government science publication back in the '70s! — and the girl can do anything and do it well.


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