The Year of
Dispatches from the Front by Burl Burlingame
|5/4/01 Additional addendum to the cafe item below. When the gas bill
for the cafe skyrocketed last year, Chris asked the Gannett landlords
to look for leaks. They refused. This went on for months. He kept
complaining and they finally checked, and they did discover a
gas leak in the building. It was fixed within a few hours. Besides
the notion that Gannett deliberately ignored an explosive safety
issue (literally!) in their own workplace, they also want the
cafe to pay for the higher gas bills, and are threatening to cover
the bills with privately owned kitchen equipment auctioned off
after the cafe closes.
||5/7/01 While we're excited to finally get a sign by the front door, below, (all we had before was a note taped to the glass), the Gannett
Advertiser commissioned this sculpture of a screaming paperboy
for their lobby. Scary, yeah? It's made of shredded Advertisers.
Gannett is so psyched about it they don't want pictures taken
and there are security chains around it. (The Chain Gang?) Gannett
also evicted their in-staff hula halau from the building; no room
for them. Aloha also means goodbye!
|5/11/01 There's this bizarre junk-mail thing called "Island Weekly" that's
being shoved in our mailbox. Turns out it's the Gannett Advertiser's
effort to compete with MidWeek. It's full of small ads, and the
cover even proclaims it has INSERTS INSIDE! which turned out,
this week, to be a KMart one-pager. This thing appears to be a
way of hanging on tho the small advertisers who were hoodwinked
into signing long-term contracts with Gannett promising full-market
|5/12/01 More evidence of Gannett attempts at defrauding the government
surface in a Curt Sanburn column in Honolulu Weekly, a give-away publication also targeted for extinction by Gannett.
After entering into litigation with the City to have a fair shot
at occupying City-owned newsracks in Waikiki, the Weekly agreed
to participate in a lottery among competing publications. However,
the Gannett Advertiser claimed to be be 11 different publications
among 30 total entries. Once they won, Gannett discarded the pretense
and filled the 11 slots with Advertisers. Well, duh.
|5/13/01 At the two-month mark, our business columnist Erika Engel provided
an overview of the battle for circulation, plus a look at the pure meanness employed by Gannett, which included threatening children. Even
the Honolulu Weekly's Bobby Rees got into the act with an analysis that was -- for him -- pretty accurate.
|5/13/01 I created another bright little continuing feature that looks like it will be a success. So what? That's what we
do. The only question will be how long we wait before the Gannett
Advertiser copies it. And they will. They copy everything else
we do. They are absolutely shameless. I recall when one of their
graphics editors in the Midwest won a Best-Of-Gannett award for
Xeroxing the San Francisco Chronicle's movie-review ratings system. The good news is that even though they ape others, Gannett editors
invaribly screw it up and make it lame.
|5/14/01 Like the washing machine repairman, the loneliest job in town
is the Gannett Advertiser "spy" who sits in his truck and notes
down doings at the Oahu Publications press at the top of the hill
in Kaneohe. The vehicle is registered to Larry Leanio of Kapolei,
the 'Tiser's PM edition circulation manager.
And a few months after hiring cartoonist Daryl Cagle away from our sister publication MidWeek -- at an elevated salary
-- the Gannett Advertiser fired him to cut newsroom costs. Now
he can't work for either paper. Cagle's pre-'Tiser cartoons were right-on, another reason for Gannett to have him vanish. Hire-aways like
Rod Ohira, former Star-Bulletin staffer, ought to be nervous as
they approach the end of their Gannett probation.
|5/20/01 The kids that are pitching Gannett Advertiser subscriptions door-to-door
are being coached to say the money is for charity, such as their
school or church groups. They're also told that part of the pitch
is to claim that Star-Bulletin subscriptions are no good, because
the paper is folding soon, ha-ho!
|5/21/01 The Nashville Tennessean, where Gannett successfully pulled off
the same monopoly hustle that fizzled in Honolulu, is posting profits of close to 40 percent, despite stagnant circulation and steadily
declining newsroom quality.
David Black shows his sharky teeth.
|5/22/01 Owner David Black is in town, doing the mystery-meeting thing
with assorted suits. Word has filtered down that the Honolulu
Star-Bulletin may already be in profit after two months of independence.
Ad lineage grows daily, and this last Sunday paper was pretty
beefy. When was the last time an afternoon daily in the United
States gained circulation and reversed declining revenues? Not
recently, I'll wager, probably not in 50 years. A recent National Post article on Black characterized him as a "nice guy who's a shark underneath."
Good! That's just what we need.
||5/23/01 I think my life will be divided into pre-"Pearl Harbor" movie
and post-"Pearl Harbor" movie. We sure are covering it. David
Swann's special graphic, released this week, is fab.
|5/26/01 It's one thing to focus on Gannett as mean-spirited and cheap,
but we shouldn't forget there are other outfits and individuals
out there who aren't too honorable either.
Take Robert Ballard and National Geographic -- please!
Some years ago I wrote a book about the Japanese submarine attacks
on Hawaii and the West Coast. "Advance Force - Pearl Harbor" became
required reading at the Arizona Memorial Visitors Center, won
awards, broke news when a computer-enhanced photograph in the
book showed a submarine intruder in the harbor, and started appearing
in the bibliography of serious books about the attack.
Ballard consults my book.
|It will be reprinted soon by the prestigious Naval Institute Press,
yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah.
To date, "Advance Force" is still the primary reference on that
aspect of the attack, so I was interested in how National Geographic
and Robert Ballard would interpret the events in their "Pearl
Harbor" special airing Sunday night on NBC, because it's one of
the few things I know anything about.
To my astonishment, I heard things I wrote or expressed falling
from the lips of those in the show. And Ballard used the book
in the show as a prop, pointing out things on the pages as coming
"from experts." My book is almost always in his hands or perched
behind his head.
Do they acknowledge their sources here? Nope. The impression given
is that Ballard did all the research himself.
Last fall, National Geographic pressured the University of Hawai'i's
undersea lab program to find the midget submarine and keep it
secret until Ballard could arrive and take credit. Lab leader
Alex Malahof said he declined the offer. He said Geographic also
tried to get the university to loan them the use of lab personnel
and their submarines for free, in exchange for the "prestige"
of working with Ballard. The lab also declined that offer.
About that time, researchers from NatGeo bought a couple of books
from me and demanded I supply them with free photographs. I directed
them to the National Archives and never heard from them again.
I hadn't thought of National Geographic as an el-cheapo outfit,
but I guess they are.
Ballard and crew showed up in Hawaii and poked around in the same
part of the ocean that had already been explored by the UH. They
found nothing. If Ballard had checked with Malahof or other experts
familiar with the subject, they wouldn't have wasted their time,
or NatGeo's money.
What's the lesson here? Watch out for them East-Coast city slickers,
I suppose. And while you can't copyright facts, it wouldn't hurt
to extend a little professional courtesy while lifting someone
else's scholarship to flesh out your show-biz production.
NEXT! June 2001
The First Casualties
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