4/1/01
And here's what the press in Kaneohe looks like.
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HonoluluNewsBlues
April 2001

The Year of
Savage Counterattack
Over the Top!

Dispatches from the Front by Burl Burlingame
4/2/01 The Denver newspapers that have entered into a JOA just like the one that united the Star-Bulletin and Advertiser so many years ago have already resulted in a coalition of dozens of advertisers complaining that ad rates are being jacked up. Seems they're surprised this would happen in a monopoly market.
4/3/01 I tried to cancel my subscription to the Gannett Sunday newspaper, but the person at their circulation department argued with me. I could not cancel by phone, she said, because I am an "Advertiser employee" and had to go in person to their human-resources department and cancel it there. Since, as a Star-Bulletin employee -- and always have been -- I'm now banned from even entering the News Building, that presents an interesting dilemma.
4/5/01 Cutback time at the Gannett Advertiser. While Gannett is spending big bucks on television advertising promising coverage second to none -- from their budget once used to produce the Star-Bulletin when they controlled the Honolulu market -- the newsroom is being told to strap in. No overtime, extra coverage or basic expenses are being allowed. The "loaners" from other Gannett papers are vanishing. The heralded "afternoon" edition of the Advertiser has fewer than 2,500 paid circulation, making it likely the smallest newspaper in the Gannett chain. The point of the Advertiser afternoon edition, however, wasn't to provide better coverage, but to deny the Star-Bulletin our own paper-delivery people, meaning we had to build routes from scratch. In a month or two, when Gannett discovers we aren't going to fold and the Afternoon Advertiser is a money pit, they'll pull the plug and fire all those delivery people. There's your top-down Gannett staff loyalty!
4/9/01 A Gannett Advertiser district manager was charged by police Sunday for stealing Star-Bulletins from little kids selling them on the street. The DM told the kids it was Gannett policy when he seized their papers. He allowed them to keep selling Advertisers, however.
4/10/01 I'm continuing to receive Sunday Gannett Advertisers even though I've cancelled several times. (See 4/3/01 below) Am I going to have to stand guard over my mailbox? I called again to try to unsubscribe and was told -- once again -- that as an "Advertiser employee" I was not allowed to. When I explained -- again -- that I was a Star-Bulletin employee, they claimed I had a substantial past-due bill. Ha! I don't think so.


4/11/01
This is a banner Restaurant Row management hung outside the building. Something funny about the letter-spacing, hey? Also, all the building directories in the complex spell our sister publication as "Midwwek."
4/11/01 The Gannett manager who stole newspapers from kids on Sunday is having additional charges brought against him. Turns out he also threatened the kids, and, genius that he is, managed to do so to a TV reporter. Gannett's distribution of the afternoon Advertiser, in the meantime, is costing them a fortune, because they can't get qualified people to do it and so they're forcing their unionized morning people to work overtime EVERY DAY.
4/12/01 We won a pile of trophies in the annual Hawaii Publishers Association's journalism awards, which are a fund-raiser to help student journalists. I apparently won an Honorable Mention for something, but I don't know what for, since we didn't run a complete list. Gannett Advertiser editor Jim Kelly decided to boycott the awards this year, and it was news to their staff that they had not even been entered. It's likely a smart move for Kelly, since he has so little faith in his staff's product -- he can spin could-haves and would-haves all day long without being corrected by the facts. Too bad, though, since the Tiser staff's work has improved mightily over the last year, and also because fewerr funds were available for joiurnalism scholarships. It's not that Gannett is pleading poverty -- for the first time, they're buying whole tables for their executives at Hawaii charity events, such as Bishop Museum's next month, as they're trying desperately to appear "local." Gannett second-in-command Dennis Francis is this year's president of the HPA, and he didn't show up at his own awards ceremony. Maybe he was busy threatening Star-Bulletin paperboys.
4/13/01 JOAs elsewhere are in the news. The Deseret News is actually filing suit to allow themselves to go to morning delivery. DN columnist Lee Benson opines that "afternoon papers were cool. So was Benny Goodman." Benny is still cool, Lee, and OUR little afternoon paper is increasing circulation. And the Denver anti-trust complaint is being sat upon by the federal judge there. We're fortunate that our own case occurred before Bush began dismantling the Justice Department's anti-trust division.
4/14/01 Gannett completed their renovations of the old Star-Bulletin newsroom and brought in a Hawaiian priest to exorcise our spirits. As he was tossing around water and salt and chanting, a sudden gust of cold wind ripped through the blinds, creating a loud rattle and a chill. Everyone there levitated a foot off the ground. Bwaaaa--haaaa-haaaa! I wonder if we should tell them about the haunted darkroom. Terry Luke used to see the ghost of Amos Chun standing in the room late in the evenings, and now that Terry himself has passed away, every once in a while you'll catch the smell of barbequed pork where none exists. Smell that barbeque? That's Terry, Gannett people. He's looking over your shoulder...
4/15/01 The Sunday Gannett Advertiser continued to be dropped at my house despite being cancelled several times. It's pathetic.
4/16/01 There's a flurry of Advertiser PM television advertising on the airwaves, while at the same time, Gannett employees are warned daily about running up expenses. At that rate they're hemmorhaging money on this turkey, they'll likely pull the plug by June.
4/17/01 What kind of employer is Gannett? Here's a clue: One of the Gannett Advertiser reporters suffered a fractured elbow and other injuries in a fall from a rooftop last week, and Gannett editors not only ordered him immediately into the office to work -- or just sit there all day -- they harrassed his doctors, demanding confidential medical information.
4/20/01 Although the Gannett Advertiser's summer-intern program is still up in the air, Gannett's USA Today shit-canned their intern program, citing costs. I guess they need the money. Gannett CEO Douglas McCorkindale received a $2 million bonus on top of his $1.06 million salary at the end of 2000. Despite McCorkindale's stewardship, Gannett's first-quarter profits fell 14 percent from a year ago. Income was up, however, since they own more monopoly newspapers.

Dangerous Doug McC, left.
4/22/01 Why does this sound familiar? Gannett once owned the Nashville Banner, an afternoon daily in a joint operating agreement with the morning Nashville Tennessean. But then Gannett bought the Tennessean and created a ad hoc group of "local businessmen" to take the Banner off their hands, all the while promising the deal would go on into the future. Then, in 1998, Gannett paid off the Banner owners to kill their product, creating a monopoly market in Nashville. Promises were made that the lack of competition would actually improve the product, ha ha! Today, the miserable quality of the Tennessean is the talk of Nashville, and the Nashville Scene has launched a five-part series about why the local newspaper sucks under Gannett.
4/25/01 Publisher Don Kendall hosted the first official staff meeting since start-up -- the Newspaper Guild has hosted several, though -- and answered questions. Bottom line: we're doing OK, considering we just started, considering circulation sabotage by Gannett, and considering a delivery-labor shortage in certain neighborhoods. But we're still the underdog compared to the big bucks and ruthlessness employed by Gannett, and may always be so. We also learned that additional charges are being levied against Gannett distribution managers for threatening children carriers, and that the guy who sits in his car outside our press at nights, watching us through binoculars and cell-phoning someone with our press-start times, has moved farther away after being laughed at by our pressmen.
4/25/01 At a dinner presentation for Hawaii's advertisng community, Gannett's marketing goombahs showed up with charts and graphs and laser pointers and PowerPoint gimcracks and "proved" people had to advertise with the Gannett Advertiser, or else. Star-Bulletin publisher Don Kendall then responded by simply rising and asking the advertisers to please spend some of their ad budget on us, and thanked those who already had. This simple politeness caught the Gannettoids off-guard when the audience responded warmly to Kendall, but not to Gannett. But these are the same people who were tricked by Gannett recently into signing contracts promising HNA two-newspaper distribution, but then HNA -- and the other paper -- vanished. Gannett's presentation to the community continued to boil down to: If we had a monopoly, we could screw the public more efficiently.

And at right are three, count 'em, three Gannett Advertiser stickers slapped onto the front door of a restaurant. The whole town is being blitzed with promotional devices such as these, stuff we simply can't afford at the moment.
4/26/01 The Gannett Advertiser continued to maintain a tight and monopolistic relationship with public facilties such as the USS Missouri memorial. At left is one of their specialized newstand disribution boxes aboard the museum ship.

No time wasted erasing our presence!
4/27/01 Hey, what's happening at the old building? I barged right in and poked around the other day before being escorted out. Millions are being spent on cosmetic renovations. The damaged architectural infrastructure is not being repaired, however. I was surprised that security was higher than ever -- what are they afraid of? -- and that the Gannett Advertiser news staff is completely hidden away from public view. Windows and doors to the outside are covered up or blocked off, and offices and cubicle dividers that provided a bit of privacy for employees have been ripped out. Everyone is visible at all times to managers. It's a big, secret hive of pod people.
4/27/01 Will Hoover was surprised by the front door, left, which is now plastered over, with a giant blank wall behind it. The original entrance, right, had a view of the newsroom. (Lind photo)
4/27/01 Hoover attempted to escape by fleeing to the library, left. This is the view of the newsroom preferred by Gannett For the public using the library, two forms of ID are required, and then the visitor is escorted this way by security guards. Researchers are charged $48 an hour plus copying expenses. There are hundreds of thousands of Star-Bulletin photographs in this archive scheduled to be destroyed.


4/27/01
The original editorial office, top left, is now used by Gannett photographers, left. The notoriously leaky windows in the former feature and art departments, above, have not been repaired, but the wall between the departments has vanished. Next rainfall, those phones on the ledge will short-circuit.
4/27/01 Aren't these VW bugs used by Gannett Advertiser dispatch cute? They have a dozen or so. I wonder if they were acquired as one way of sucking up to VW car dealer Mike McKenna, one-time bidder on the Star-Bulletin and a bitter critic of Gannett policies.
4/27/01 If it isn't moving, slap a Gannett Advertiser decal on it. Every vehicle in the fleet is covered, and Advertiser staffers are encouraged to wear the same white with red-trim colors to work. What's next? Hibiscus tattoos?



In comparison to this wall-to-wall logo-spewing, our own product seems pretty anonymous.This is where all that money earned screwing customers pays off. We can't afford this. Not yet, anyway. We'll have to make do with simply producing a better product.

Above, there's this anchor-sized chain keeping the Star-Bulletin newstand safe in front of the News Building.
4/27/01 Perfectly good furniture on the paper's loading dock, headed for the dumpster, below.

4/27/01 The News Building art gallery, once run as a public service, became a party room to woo advertisers, above, last Christmas, and now is filled with cubicle people, right.

4/28/01 This is Chris, who runs -- or ran -- the wonderful Daily Scoop cafe on the top floor of the News Building. Gannett is taking over operation of the facility in June.
Instead of freshly made food, Gannett is installing company-owned vending machines, and there's something philosophically apropos about Gannett employees giving wages back to Gannett in order to be fed by a machine instead of a human being. A cafe to serve employees had been a tradition in the News Building for more than 40 years, and was wildly popular in the neighborhood. However, with heightened security in the building -- thanks to frightened Gannett execs -- civilians had a hard even getting to the cafe. The eviction of the Star-Bulletin and Associated Press staffs didn't help, nor did an influx of mainland Gannettoids who turn up their noses at island cuisine. Maybe they prefer Soylent Green after all.
4/29/01 Addendum to the cafe item below. We keep getting complaints Gannett is so concerned about newsroom-operations costs that a moratorium is being declared on coffee expenses at the Gannett Advertiser. That might be true. But the Gannettoids running the place won't drink anything less than very, very expensive Lion coffee, and so coffee expenses may be high for that reason.

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