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March 2003

The Year of
Switching Commanders
Deaths and Departures

Dispatches from the Front by Burl Burlingame

3/1/03 The San Francisco Examiner becomes the "Examadent"?
Does anyone recall that Clint Reilly's lawsuit against Hearst settling the paper on the Fang Family "was nothing more than a fraud designed to eventually give Hearst a daily monopoly," according to Bay Guardian piece this week?

03/03/03 Any numerologists out there?
The Washington Times is reporting that Pearl Harbor is a potential terrorist target (well, duh) and halfway down the story points out that Pearl Harbor was hit previously by a surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941!!! Speaking of dates that will live in infamy, check out the way-cool date that today is.

3/4/03 Sinking your Fangs
Here's a revealing look at the way the Fangs deliberately scuttled the Examiner in order to please Hearst and get the DOJ off their backs. This has resonance in Honolulu because Gannett tried the same thing with the Star-Bulletin..

3/5/03 Oh, just build another new press next door to the other new press
Negotiations are proceeding slowly up the street, with both sides giving and getting a little. They're still far apart on stuff like pay increases (or pay decreases), medical coverage, sick leave and scrapping the pension plan, but that's Gannett business as usual. The interesting thing is that Gannett now doesn't want to get rid of as many pressmen as they can, because it turns out they don't know how many they're going to need in the future. That's right, the new miracle press they're paying millions of dollars for out in Kapolei has big question marks attached. Turns out, we're told, that it can't print tabloid-sized paper. Gannett might have to build an addition in Kapolei or retain the old press in downtown Honolulu, both of which mean additional press personnel. Actually, printing high-quality tabs isn't a problem. They can always pay us to run them.
Second thoughts: The above seems absurd. While I wouldn't be surprised by much of anything the G-men do, it's hard to believe a modern press would have trouble printing tabs. There must be another reason Gannett has changed its mind on retaining the pressmen. A second-hand source at the Advertiser even thinks it's just so we won't be able to hire them, which seems absurd also. But, on the other hand, if you'd told me a couple of years ago that highly-paid Gannett pressmen would be standing around with time on their hands doing two-bit printing jobs -- 2,000 copies of the Chaminade student newspaper, with a wastage rate of 10,000 copies? -- I'd have thought that was absurd too.

3/8/03 We have a new publisher!
As Ian pointed out, the Gannett Advertiser broke an embargo on a story about the Star-Bulletin's new publisher. I guess they were so excited about the news that they had to share, although I wonder why we sent them a copy of the press release in the first place, as they've never paid attention to such honorable practices in the past. They essentially took the press release and pasted a byline on it to make it look like they'd actually done some reporting
Here's the real deal, as posted on StarBulletin.Com: Don Kendall, who led the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and MidWeek during a key transition period, has announced his resignation.
Kendall, who has served as president of the two newspapers? parent company since November 2000, said that he and his wife, Teresa, are returning to Canada to spend more time with their family.
David Black, who purchased the Star-Bulletin and MidWeek two years ago, said Kendall will be succeeded by Frank Teskey, a former manager with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette.
The moves are effective March 29.
?Don brought more than management expertise to the job,? Black said. ?He and Teresa brought heart. They cared about saving the Star-Bulletin and improving MidWeek. They cared about the staff, and they cared about using the papers to help the community.?
Kendall will return to British Columbia and continue to work within Black Press, the Canadian parent of the Star-Bulletin and MidWeek.
He previously served as vice president of Black Press?s Cariboo Press subsidiary, which publishes 27 community newspapers in British Columbia.
?Our decision is strictly personal,? Kendall said. ?We love Hawaii, but after 2 1?2 years here, we want to be close to our family.?
Teskey, a 33-year veteran of the newspaper and publishing industry, has served as publisher of the Globe and Mail?s regional and national magazines and was publisher of Business in Vancouver, a weekly business journal.
Most recently, he was a vice president of Cariboo Press.
What's the REAL reason Kendall is going back to Canada? Summer's coming up and he burns easily.

3/9/03 Star-Builletin and MidWeek hip-hop shopping center extravaganza
The Star-Bulletin and MidWeek have opened a service counter at Ala Moana Shopping Center, rather like the phone company's Phone Mart shops. It's an interesting idea, treating the newspaper like a public utility instead of a disposable impulse-buy. There was a public hoo-rah with staffers and musical artists at Center Stage. Above, features editor Nadine Kam and cartoonist Corky Trinidad; far left, an aerial view; and left, business writer Russ Lynch and the copy desk's Joe Edwards.

3/11/03 Another "big-box" store for Kapolei?
Nope, this is an architect's rendering of the new Advertiser printing plant out on the Left Coast of Oahu. The presses are 60 feet high, 200 feet long and can print 70,000 papers an hour! That means their afternoon edition can be printed in four minutes. Note the single car parked in front -- that's for the entire press crew.

3/13/03 --30-- George Steele --30--

Honolulu Star-Bulletin copy editor George Steele was found dead in his apartment this day from unknown causes, although the preliminary judgement from the on-scene medical examiner indicated some sort of cardio-vascular trauma. Apparently, he died suddenly of a stroke or heart attack.
George had been dealing with a health problem for the last few months and had recently taken leave to combat it. He still managed to stop by the office nearly every day to check in, to share one of his awful West Virginny hillbilly jokes, to complain about MicroSoft, to catch up on raw news off the wire, to monitor Guild activities, to pick up some spicy Korean food, to pretend he was an ornery cuss, to act tough and then giggle ... or to just say hi.
Any death in the family is difficult, and George had been part of the Star-Bulletin family for nearly two decades. He loved the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and what it represented.

I might write more later but right now I'm too upset.
I do recall that George said to me just last month that "they'll never be able to tell I'm a hillbilly at the funeral home -- I still have all my teeth. Well, most of 'em."

3/14/03 We're still here, G-men, and we're not leaving!
It was a restrained and emotional newsroom commemoration this day of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin's second "birthday" -- two years since Gannett declared war on editorial diversity, two years since we became an independent voice for Hawaii, two years of the worst the biggest, baddest newspaper bullies on the planet can throw at us. Publisher Don Kendall, now a short-timer, said goodbye to the staff and we marked the passage of George Steele with a moment of silence -- but not too long, as George was a party kind of guy. Thanks to Steph Kendrick for organizing it.

3/15/03 Lifting one (or two) to celebrate our non-demise

Here's the beginnings of a Star-Bulletin celebration at Murphy's most excellent eatery and drinkery ... let's see, that's Frank, Rick, Richard, Gary, Mary and George, with more coming. And George has his eye on my Black 'n' Tan!!! It's a good thing our anniversary comes right next to St. Paddy's Day every year.

3/17/03 That ol' ivory-tower mentality
The 'Tiser has an interesting story about University types complaining about intolerance and insensitivity in some cartoons and parodies in the student newspaper Ka Leo. Imagine! Cartoons and parodies being insensitive! Typical of the sort of Fascist hand-wringers that populate college campusses, they're in favor of free speech as long as they agree with it. And naturally the story appeared first (with more telling detail) in Ka Leo itself. Be worried when lobbying organizations start insisting that journalists be forced into reeducation camps.

Gannett CEO
(Click me!)
3/18/03 Gannett execs deserve their just reward ...
Gannett CEO Doug McCorkindale paid himself a bonus of $2.3 million on top of his $1.6 million salary for 2002, plus he exercised stock options for an additional profit of $9.5 million. His 2001 bonus was only $1.9 million, but McCorkindale explained that Gannett execs deserve the big money because of their "extraordinary efforts" in 2002 -- that is, trimming staffs, raising ad rates, attacking unions and cutting back on community programs. Here in Honolulu, for example, Gannett has saved thousands by refusng to negotiate an agreement with the Newspaper Guild, and just this week substantially jacked up the rates for real-estate ads. And they're certainly envious of the San Francisco Chronicle, which -- with the Examiner no longer providing competition -- is about to fire hundreds of employees. Think of the bonus Gannett executive Mike Fisch will get when he gets a chance to fire half the Advertiser staff. Now, there's an executive incentive!

3/20/03 "'Tis better to talk talk talk than to war war war" -- Winston Churchill
Well, the balloon has gone up after months of drumbeating. Now that the Second Gulf War is underway, let's hope they prosecute it with deliberation and speed. The Iraqi soldiers will be fighting on their home turf, and some of that may be in an urban environment, and both those factors hugely complicate things. The trick will be making to Iraqi military engage us, come to us, instead of the Allied Forces seeking them out in their own backyards. The strongest opinion I've formed so far is that CNN's Aaron Brown is a pinhead. But if I was in charge -- ha! -- I'd knock out Iraq's air assets, create an air bridge to Baghdad's airport and land a substantial force there and seize it, establishing a strong perimeter. Let the Iraqi military come out from under cover and attack the Allies on a battlefield of our own choosing. Once Baghdad falls, the tactical war is over. On the other hand, here's another quote from Churchill: Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.

3/24/03 Business in the north
The war is grinding away, eating up resources and lives. The way the networks are covering it, maybe it should be broadcast over ESPN.
It has also been a war of words. Some of the most stirring came from a British officer, Lt Col Tim Collins, as he gave the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Guards a thumping send-off as they prepared to go into battle in Iraq:
We go to liberate not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Show respect for them.
There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly. Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send.
As for the others I expect you to rock their world. Wipe them out if that is what they choose. But if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory.
Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham. Tread lightly there.
You will see things that no man could pay to see and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis.
You will be embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing.
Don't treat them as refugees for they are in their own country. Their children will be poor, in years to come they will know that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.
If there are casualties of war then remember that when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day.
Allow them dignity in death. Bury them properly and mark their graves."
It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you out alive but there may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign.
We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back. There will be no time for sorrow.
The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction.
There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam.
He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity.
It is a big step to take another human life. It is not to be done lightly.
I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts, I can assure you they live with the mark of Cain upon them.
If someone surrenders to you then remember they have that right in international law and ensure that one day they go home to their family.
The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please.
If you harm the regiment or its history by over enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will suffer.
(As for chemical or biological weapons), it is not a question of if, it's a question of when. We know (Saddam Hussein) has already devolved the decision to lower commanders, and that means he has already taken the decision himself. If we survive the first strike we will survive the attack.
As for ourselves, let's bring everyone home and leave Iraq a better place for us having been there.
Our business now, is north.

3/25/03 Blowing their cover
>> Seems benign under most circumstances, but check out the second-to-the-last paragraph of this story filed in Gannett's USA Today newspaper -- it states explicitly how we're getting our intelligence on Saddam Hussein. I hope no one in Baghdad is reading Gannett; it might get somebody killed, or compromise an asset in the field.
>> My own little contribution to the Iraq news this weekend was a historical piece on the desperate battle at Habbaniya in 1941. It ain't in the story, but Habbaniya is now known for the production of mustard gas.
>> And layout monkeys like me find stuff like this interesting -- images of how every Gannett paper dealt with the breaking news of war.

3/25/03 A hot time in old Honolulu
As if we didn't have enough to worry about -- on this day, a car in the parking lot next to our office burst into flames and the building was evacuated. Thanks to Nancy-on-the-spot Christenson for these instant images.

3/26/03 Gannett may gobble up Freedom
Freedom, the small chain that includes the Orange County Register and one of the last family-owned large dailies in the country, is going on the block, and Gannett is making no secret that it's snuffling around the door, ready to pounce.

3/28/03 Gannett publisher splits, takes over Associated Press
Tom Curley, publisher of USA Today and the one guy who has been with the Gannett paper from the get-go, is leaving to become CEO of the Associated Press.
NEXT! April 2003

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