Veteran Hawaii Journalist Gives the Scoop on the Media Business

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Some of you may wonder why I haven’t checked in through my ‘MidWeek’ column, or here, on what the conventional wisdom says will be a one newspaper city with something called the ‘Star-Advertiser’ as the survivor, along with ‘MidWeek’ and ‘Honolulu Weekly.’

I haven’t been muzzled. It’s just that it’s really hard to tell exactly what’s going to happen.


The ‘Honolulu Star-Bulletin’ has gone up for sale with ads in several newspapers and by word of mouth. Local businessman Mike McKenna expressed an interest but S-B publisher Dennis Francis was quoted saying the paper wouldn’t be formally offered to him because he’s never cared enough to buy ad space for his car business in the S-B. Finding a buyer for a paper losing a million bucks a year won’t be easy. The betting is on a one paper city.

But who keeps and who loses jobs in the surviving ‘Star-Advertiser?’

The ‘Advertiser’ editor says he’d hate to see columnists Lee Cataluna and David Shapiro bite the dust.

But wouldn’t the buyer, the ‘Star-Bulletin’, give first job choice to its own columnists?

You’d think so, but we don’t know so. Some people have to go. How about S-B/MidWeek press operators who may not be familiar with the more modern operation at the Kapolei plant? Will they go? Who survives as editor, as ad executives and sales people? Not a clue. Maybe surviving publisher Francis knows, but he hasn’t said.

‘Advertiser’ publisher Lee Webber is a goner but will probably land at another Gannett newspaper.

It seems that all of us at MidWeek survive. But might some columns end up in the new daily? And some daily columnists in MidWeek?

Plenty of jobs are going to be lost. No question about that. Will the Advertiser take the brunt of the hit? You’d think so, but we don’t know so. And will Honolulu Weekly be printed at the Kapolei plant? Will it even survive? It’s been looking very anemic lately and starved for meaty stories.

So there’s not a whole lot to be written about yet. I can’t rant against the development because I can’t expect a newspaper to survive while losing money. Advertisers may be unhappy because they can’t go looking for a better deal.

But for readers