The Year of
Here Comes the Cavalry!
Dispatches from the Front by Burl Burlingame
4/1/02 Beating up on the little guys
Aaron Kilbey, the local fellow who runs the tropicalstormhawaii.com website has some sort of beef ongoing with the Gannett Advertiser.
On his site, he notes, among other things, that, "beyond all belief,
the Honolulu Advertiser has BLACKMAILED one of the Hawaiian e-commerce
companies, issuing an ULTIMATUM that if they don't have their
links removed from my site, then they can no longer be an affiliate
of the Honolulu Advertiser, all because of my refusal to drop
the matter of news-item links on my webpage ... (the) Honolulu
Advertiser has determined that educating individuals who visit
this site on current events is a copyright infringement and cannot
4/2/02 Big Brother is listening
We're told that the telephones in the library at the Gannett Advertiser,
where the Star-Bulletin archives are held, are being monitored
by Gannett to make sure library employees don't provide any archive
information to the Star-Bulletin.
4/5/02 Filling empty desks
I neglected to mention in the Lorna Lim item below that the Chicago
Tribune is filling slots because they laid too many employess
off in the Great Media Panic of '01. Trib publisher Scott Smith
refused to call them "layoffs." They were called "involuntary
4/13/02 Buy none, get gear free
Arriving uninvited in folks' email boxes is spam from the Gannett
Advertiser, promoting their giveaway program, offerng a chance
"to win free stuff EVERY DAY! Introducing The Honolulu Advertiser
Prize Box. Every day we fill the Prize Box with exciting prizes
such as gym memberships, rental cars, seat covers, meals and even
Honolulu Advertiser gear..." What's funny is that the pitch is
also being made to Star-Bulletin staff on office email.
4/14/02 Making more with less
Wall Street mooks have apparently been predicting that Gannett
would report First Quarter 2002 earnings at 91 cents a share,
and that's exactly what Gannett is claiming. Profitss for the
company rose 8% to $243.6 million, even though newspaper ad revenues
were down 5% and circulation revenues slipped 0.7%.
Will the universe's largest newspaper company be gobbling up more
papers? "We're ready to write checks for the right transactions!"
Gannett CEO Doug McCorkindale enthused.
According rnr.com, McCorkindale said he was comfortable with analysts' estimates
that Gannett will have second-quarter earnings per share of $1.11
to $1.12, but Gannett later issued a statement that he misspoke
and really meant $1.11 to $1.13.
I'm glad that's cleared up. In the meantime, the Star-Bulletin
is forming a softball team.
4/15/02 Anchors away
The Navy has decided to stick to its original decision to switch
its Navy News printing contract to the Gannett Advertiser. No one should be surprised by this.
If they had reversed their decision, that woiuld have been a tacit
admission that the process had been tainted, and besides, the
Navy is required to award such contracts to the lowest bidder.
On the Mainland, Gannett's deep pockets has allowed them to take
work away from competitors by bidding at a loss, and by giving
away cash "office upgrade bonusses" to the staffs of their accounts.
Sigh. Positive spin -- the Honolulu Newspaper War is saving taxpayers
4/17/02 The Local Kine Connection
Heavyweight local investors have joined the Star-Bulletin and
MidWeek, announced during an early-morning staff meeting on this
day. They include Hawaii businessmen Warren Luke, CEO of Hawaii
National Bank; Lionel Tokioka of CB Bancshares and City Bank;
Colbert Matsumoto and Franklin Tokioka of Island Holdings; attorneys
Lynn and Jeff Watanabe; and Duane Kurisu, owner of Hawaii Sports Network, commercial real-estate company Kurisu &
Fergus, Hawaii Winter Baseball, PacificBasin Communications LLC,
and a partial owner of the San Francisco Giants.
They will become directors of a minority stake in Oahu Publications
and MidWeek Printing. There will be more coverage at starbulletin.com.
This level of Hawaii public trust in the future of the Honolulu
Star-Bulletin should make the Gannett Advertiser sit up and take
notice. No other daily newspaper in Hawaii has attracted Hawaiian
Disclosure time: My favorite Hawaii Winter Baseball team was the
Hilo Stars, while the rest of the family preferred the Honolulu
Sharks. I've still got my Stars cap!
4/18/02 It was an old day yesterday, a new day now ....
It seems this site was first out of the box with news of the Hawaii
businessmen who have decided to invest in the Star-Bulletin's
future, but only by a few minutes. Such is the gimme-gimme nature
of the Internet news life. The most complete story is the Star-Bulletin's, natrurally, but the Gannett Advertiser
was so desperate to let people know about this slap in their face
that they rushed it online even before the news conference began.
The mood at our office is more upbeat now that Hawaii businesses
are voting with their dollars on our future. Our staff has continued
to produce (and sell and distribute) a high-quality news product
under the most frightening circumstances, and the credit goes
to those who hung in there.
The most often-heard comment yesterday was "I wish I was a fly
on the wall at the Advertiser" as Gannett tries to absorb this
setback, but it's possible that they simply won't understand what
a body blow this is, public relations-wise. It's not about the
money. It's about being part of the community.
I hope that -- at least -- their ad-sales staff stops referring
to us as "foreigners."
4/19/02 "Gannett's stupidity is clearly our gain."
Here's the text of an internal memo at the Seattle Times from assistant managing editor David Boardman:
"I'm pleased to announce the newest addition to our news staff:
Cheryl Phillips, formerly of USA Today, the Detroit News and the
Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Most recently, Cheryl (pronounced with
a hard "CH") was in the news as one of the notorious "Blue Ball
Three," the women fired for touching a piece of glass art at Gannett
headquarters. Before that, though, she was well-known among investigative
types as a crack computer-assisted-reporting specialist. Gannett's
stupidity is clearly our gain. Cheryl will be part of the Investigative
Team and will report to Jim Neff, but for the rest of this year
she'll be working with John Saul's Traffic and Transportation
Team and with the Tax and Spending project under Michele Matassa
Flores' direction. In addition to her CAR skills, Cheryl has good
experience as both a reporter and editor. We look forward to great
things from her. Frank, hide your art. "
4/20/02 Stunned or muted?
Reaction at the Gannett Advertiser to our new local investors,
I'm told, was stunned astonishment. They took it seriously. It
will color their future in Hawaii, and cause Gannett to take a
good, hard look at their stake here. As for our investors -- I'm
told from other sources -- they're rather proud of themselves,
and they should be.
4/22/02 Mr. Morton says
Ian had a blind item that mentioned newspaper analyst John Morton
frequently being quoted by the Gannett Advertiser, predicting
that the Star-Bulletin will fail. I looked Morton up and discovered
that he didn't have much nice to say about Gannett in their newspaper war in Arkansas:
"Gannett didn't have a sense of the Arkansas market. They were
used to having a monopoly. They changed the paper dramatically
in ways that offended their readership base. They changed management
in Little Rock frequently. And they didn't realize (the competition)
was fully in the fight to stay..."
Sound familiar? Gannett lost more that $108 million in Little
Rock before bugging out and killing their own product. The Gannett
Advertiser may lose more.
4/23/02 A big fat Zero
The Star-Bulletin once again did well in the annual Hawaii Publishers
Association Pa'i Awards, winning as many the Gannett Advertiser
-- which has twice the staff and unlimited resources -- which
causes Ian to rather cattily (ha ha!) note that "Amazingly, the
Star-Bulletin apparently held its own, at least matching the Advertiser's
performance." But even so, I shake my head at one award, a nod
to the Tiser for news or informational graphic for Pearl Harbor
coverage. Here's an example: At top is a real A6M2 "Zero," next
is the Star-Bulletin's graphic of the Zero, and last is the award-winning
Advertiser version. What were these judges smoking?
4/25/02 Department of Corrections
The following amusing correction appeared in the Gannett Advertiser
A Local News story posted yesterday about the Hawai'i Publishers
Association awards omitted the following: The Honolulu Star-Bulletin
received 16 awards. Honolulu Magazine received seven awards, Hana
Hou and Network Media received five awards each and The Maui News
received four. Honolulu Weekly and Maui No Ka Oi magazine received
three awards each. Receiving two awards were West Hawaii Today,
the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Spirit of Aloha, North Hawaii News,
Island Scene and Wailea magazine. Hawaii Hospitality, Agriculture,
Hawaii Business, Ohana, Trade Publishing, Architecture, Pleasant
Hawaii, Taste of Lahaina, Obun, Maui Time and Building Industry
each received one award.
4/26/02 More Black
MidWeek has an interview with Black in this week's issue. They
didn't put it o-line, alas. In it, he refers to our competition
as "bleeding money and forever besmirching whatever reputation
they had for honesty" because of the way Gannett played local
peopole for chumps.
4/27/02 Advertisers react
According to our ad-sale reps, sales are way up since the announcement
of local ownership of the Star-Bulletin.
4/28/02 A Wall of Spam!
Hundreds of cans of Spam were donated by Star-Bulletin and MidWeek
employees in the latest Food Bank drive. Here's some of the Spam.
4/29/02 It's managers who create unions
MidWeek's press employees voted Friday to be represented by the
Graphic Communications International Union, Local 501M, which
was probably inevitable. Meanwhile, over at the Gannett Advertiser,
editor Saundra Keyes is keeping busy with the sort of behavior
that creates unions in the first place (and makes her a ringbearer for the Dark Lord. No kidding!). She spends her days poring over
cell-phone statements and cross-checking numbers to make sure
employees don't make or receive personal calls during work hours.
No, this information did not arrive via a cell-phone call.
4/30/02 A toehold deep in the dark bowels of power
The Capital Bureau reports a small victory in the great war worth
mentioning. After countless years, Dave's Snack Shop at the State
Capitol switched from using an Advertiser newspaper rack to the
Star-Bulletin rack, "giving us prime placement over Brand X,"
reports Pat Omandam. "Its noteworthy because, as you know, change
comes very slow in this building."
NEXT! May 2002
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