KEY EVENTS IN STAR-BULLETIN HISTORY
Feb. 1, 1882: Henry Whitney, who had founded the Pacific Commercial Advertiser some years before, began placing a "Daily Bulletin" in the window of James Robertson's Honolulu waterfront stationery store. It's such a sensation that Robertson bought the concept from Whitney and hired him as editor of Hawaii's first successful daily newspaper.
March 28, 1893: Two months after Queen Liliuokalani was overthrown, businessman Joseph Ballard Atherton founded the Hawaiian Star as a mouthpiece for the provisional government.
July 4, 1894: The Republic of Hawaii was established, and Whitney's successor as Advertiser editor was New Englander Wallace Rider Farrington. While Farrington edited the Advertiser, it was purchased by Lorrin Thurston. Disagreeing with Advertiser policies, Farrington became editor of the competing Daily Bulletin.
July 1, 1912: The Hawaiian Star and Evening Bulletin merged to form the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Riley Allen became editor. Joseph Ballard Atherton and sons Charles H. and Frank Cooke became owners of the Star-Bulletin, the latter becoming the first Star-Bulletin president. Wallace Farrington became vice president and general business manager.
1925: The Honolulu Star-Bulletin bought the Tribune-Herald in Hilo, operating it from afar until the Big Island paper was divested to Donrey Media in 1964.
July 6, 1929: After Wallace Farrington completed eight years as territorial governor, Frank Cooke Atherton turned control of the Star-Bulletin over to Farrington, who was named president and publisher.
Dec. 7, 1941: On the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Star-Bulletin published its most famous extra, as Editor Riley Allen and staff scrambled to print the first paper in the world with news of the assault. Extras were being sold on the street within three hours.
Nov. 3, 1942: Joseph Farrington, Star-Bulletin president and general manager, was elected nonvoting Hawaii delegate to Congress. He was re-elected in 1944, 1946, 1948, 1950 and 1952.
Bill Ewing, Star-Bulletin editor, was credited with creating the slang term "SeaBee" for the U.S. Navy's construction battalions.
Oct. 24, 1944: Wartime martial law ended in Hawaii. The Star-Bulletin had strongly opposed martial law from its inception shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack.
Dec. 1, 1952: The Honolulu Star-Bulletin partnered with radio man Cec Heftel to open KGMB-TV, Hawaii's first television station, airing for the first time.
April 17, 1953: In response to a statement by Mississippi's Sen. James Eastland that Hawaii was dominated by Communists and would, if granted statehood, send representatives of Moscow to Congress, the Star-Bulletin devoted most of its front page, all of page 2 and part of page 3 to listing the names of Hawaii's dead, wounded, missing and prisoners in the 1950-53 Korean War.
March 9, 1957: Star-Bulletin reporter Sarah Park, 29, died when a small plane piloted by Hawaii advertising executive Paul Beam crashed into the sea just off Laie Point while covering tidal wave action. Beam, 42, died less than 24 hours later. Star-Bulletin photographer Jack Matsumoto survived the crash with injuries, eventually returning to work.
1959: The Star-Bulletin publishes its famous statehood editions. The most famous picture - Chester Kahapea hawking statehood editions two days before his 13th birthday - appears March 13. The picture, snapped by Murray Befeler of Photo Hawaii, is picked up by such newspapers as the New York Times and New York Daily News.
July 22, 1960: Riley Allen steps down as editor after 48 years. Star-Bulletin circulation during his career rose from about 4,000 in 1912 to 104,000 in 1960. He had overseen coverage of two of Hawaii's biggest stories - the Pearl Harbor attack and statehood.
1961: A "hui" including Chinn Ho, Joseph Ballard Atherton, Alexander Atherton, William H. Hill and John T. Waterhouse forms to buy the Star-Bulletin from the Farrington Estate.
June 1, 1962: The Star-Bulletin and its morning rival, the Honolulu Advertiser, set up a third company, the Hawaii Newspaper Agency, under a joint operating agreement to handle non-newsroom functions of both papers. The Sunday editions of both papers are combined.
Aug. 2, 1971: Gannett Co. Inc. announces it is purchasing the Star-Bulletin, which now has a circulation of 128,000.
Jan. 7, 1993: Gannett announces it has reached an agreement to sell the Star-Bulletin to Rupert Phillips' Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership in a move that will allow Gannett to complete its acquisition of the Honolulu Advertiser. Star-Bulletin circulation is 88,000.
Aug. 9, 1997: The Star-Bulletin publishes the "Broken Trust" essay by five community leaders critical of Bishop Estate trustees. This leads to investigations, court actions and statewide soul-searching to bring about corrective action. The $1 million-a-year Bishop Estate trustees are eventually toppled and reforms are set in motion.
Sept. 16, 1999: Liberty Newspapers announces it will shut down the Star-Bulletin on Oct. 30 because of better investment opportunities on the mainland. Circulation is 67,124. A group of community members called Save Our Star-Bulletin bands together in an effort to keep the paper alive.
Oct. 13, 1999: District Judge Alan Kay issues a preliminary injuction in federal court keeping Gannett Co. and Liberty Newspapers from taking further steps to close the Star-Bulletin. On Nov. 9 the court approves Black Press Ltd.'s purchase of the Star-Bulletin. In December Black Press owner David Black announces he is purchasing RFD Publications, which owns MidWeek.
Nov. 9, 2000: The federal court approved Black Press Ltd.'s purchase of the Star-Bulletin. The order comes after Black Press reached agreement with Liberty and Gannett over the terms of the Star-Bulletin takeover.
March 15, 2001: The Honolulu Star-Bulletin begins a new era at Waterfront Plaza offices, launching its inaugural edition and new morning issue under Oahu Publications, a new local company formed by David Black. Don Kendall is named publisher. The paper is published on the MidWeek press in Kaneohe.
June 3, 2004: David Black scored another coup when two former Advertiser executives joined the Star-Bulletin. Dennis Francis was named president of Oahu Publications Inc. and publisher of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Glenn Zuehls was named vice president of advertising.
Feb. 25: An agreement for Oahu Publications Inc., which owns the Star-Bulletin and MidWeek, to acquire its longtime rival, The Honolulu Advertiser, is announced in simultaneous meetings in both newsrooms.
June 6: At the conclusion of the transition period, Oahu Publications merges both newspapers into the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, under publisher Dennis Francis.
Advertiser writes final chapter in 154-year story
By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer
Today's final edition of The Honolulu Advertiser ends a 154-year run that helped document and define the course of Island life from the days of the Hawaiian kingdom to the arrival of jets and the digital age.
Honolulu is now a one-newspaper town for the first time in its history. Like Seattle and Denver, cities that also lost newspapers as the global recession deepened, Honolulu will now adjust to life with only one thump on the front step, one headline peeking from the newsbox on the corner.
The death of The Advertiser came at 12:01 a.m. today after a decades-long newspaper war with its neighbor just makai on South Street, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Mary T. Orthman, 65, of Waikīkī, received her Advertiser every day between 2 and 3 a.m. and immediately began poring over every page. She was born on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and cannot reconcile that her birthday coincides today with the end of her beloved newspaper.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," she said. "You're all in my prayers and I love you and I thank you for all you have done."
The closing also marks the shutdown of one of Hawai'i's oldest and largest businesses. About 400 people will lose their jobs — most at The Advertiser, but also about 91 workers at the printing plant in Kanē'ohe that produces the Star-Bulletin and MidWeek.
The surviving daily will debut as a broadsheet tomorrow with a new name that pays homage to both newspapers: the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
The company will employ about 474 workers — including 265 hired from the Advertiser, among them 28 editors, reporters, columnists and a photographer — and will be produced at the plant built by The Advertiser in Kapolei in 2004.
The Advertiser's landmark, 81-year-old News Building at 605 Kapi'olani Blvd., which has been on the market for five years, is now closed.
A skeleton crew of workers will spend the next several weeks cleaning it out, wrapping up The Advertiser's business operations and continue dismantling the old, greasy press that has sat quiet for the past six years.
For the people of the Islands, reading had always been a critical source of communicating the news of the day.
Long before Henry M. Whitney founded the Pacific Commercial Advertiser on July 2, 1856, Hawai'i had several newspapers that were printed in the Hawaiian language, including Ke Kumu Hawai'i, Ka Lama Hawai'i, Kumu Kamali'i, Ka Elele, Ka Nonanona and Ka Hae Hawai'i.
But for nearly the past 100 years, the two English-language dailies dominated Hawai'i's journalism landscape.
For much of their battle, The Advertiser and Star-Bulletin divided the news markets by morning and afternoon delivery as they took turns flirting with death as reading habits, ownership and the economy continued to shift.
Millions in losses
The Advertiser was bleeding money in 1962 when a joint operating scheme was arranged with the Star-Bulletin, saving the morning paper.
In 1999, it was the Star-Bulletin that was close to extinction as the owner of the Advertiser — Gannett Co. Inc. — sought to buy out its owner. Community leaders, employee unions and public officials rallied to stop the shutdown of the weaker paper, and a lawsuit in federal court challenged its legality.
A veteran Canadian newspaper owner, David Black, stepped forward to buy the Star-Bulletin. And, since 2001, both newspapers have waged a bitter and financially draining war over circulation, advertising and influence.
Black said he has lost nearly $100 million on his Hawai'i operation. The Advertiser went from a profit margin of nearly 50 percent in 1993, when Gannett acquired it, to low single digits after the joint operating agreement broke up in 2001.
After a record year for revenue in 2006, The Advertiser, along with every other U.S. newspaper, saw its business fall off a cliff as the real estate market collapsed and dozens of big-spending advertisers like Circuit City, CompUSA and local car dealers closed or retrenched. Classified advertising, once a key source of profit, moved to free online sites. In less than three years, The Advertiser saw its annual revenue plummet by about 30 percent.
By 2009, the paper was barely breaking even, even after layoffs, buyouts and pay cuts.
When Gannett announced in February it was selling The Advertiser to Black and that the papers would be merged, there was no outcry, no court challenge and only muted protests from readers. The ubiquity of the Internet, with its infinite sources of free news and comment, had killed the argument that the loss of a newspaper would deprive the community of essential information, of another "voice."
"I didn't see it coming," said Richard Port, who fought to preserve two newspapers nine years ago under a group called Save Our Star-Bulletin. "I never thought that it would be The Advertiser that ended up dying."
making a difference
The Advertiser produced stories and editorials that changed the shape of Hawai'i politics, business projects big and small — and individual lives.
Former Gov. Ben Cayetano grew up delivering The Advertiser in his Kalihi neighborhood, where, he said, it seemed that everyone preferred the morning daily over its afternoon rival, the Star-Bulletin.
"The Advertiser," Cayetano said, "was a very influential voice in a community like Kalihi."
In 2001, Advertiser Windward reporter Eloise Aguiar began telling the story of Lorrie-Ann Wiley, a 32-year-old, mother, wife and Hawai'i Air National Guardsman who was killed in a crash near Olomana Golf Links while driving to work at Hickam Air Force Base.
No one could identify the driver of the car that killed Wiley.
On the anniversary of Wiley's death, Aguiar wrote a story about how the investigation had stalled. In response, a witness came forward to identify Kam K. Williams as the driver of the Chrysler that collided with Wiley's Honda Civic. He is now serving 18 years in prison.
"Were it not for the excellent coverage provided by The Honolulu Advertiser, Kam Williams might never have been tied to the vehicle and he would have avoided prosecution for the death of Lorrie Wiley," the attorney for Wiley's family, Richard Fried, said last week.
In 1987, sports reporter Ann Miller wrote a profile of Suzanne Eagye, a senior on the last Rainbow Wahine team to win an NCAA volleyball championship. Miller's profile — under the headline, "Smiling Through The Years" — included a half-dozen photographs that captured Eagye's ever-present smile that had made her a fan favorite in Klum Gym.
A few days later, Tim Cox approached Eagye in Waikīkī and said, "It's true what the paper says, you do have a beautiful smile," Eagye remembered last week. "We stood around talking for an hour and then he started going to my church. We never really dated. We were just good friends for a year and a half."
Twenty-one years later, Tim and Suzanne are raising four children on a 60-acre farm near Nashville. And Tim continues to carry a laminated copy of Miller's article in his guitar case.
"He's kept it all these years," Suzanne said. "I should thank you guys and especially Annie. She was a big part of it."
A wedding at work
Tom Brislin, who now heads the University of Hawai'i's Academy for Creative Media, worked for The Advertiser from 1980 to 1990 in a variety of positions, including city editor.
He and his wife, Evelyn, were even married in the office of Advertiser editor Buck Buchwach on Dec. 15, 1986, "with newsroom and advertising staffers as witnesses," Brislin wrote last week in an e-mail from Berlin. "As far as I know, it was the only newsroom wedding in Advertiser history."
The 1970s and 1980s were a time when investigative reporting defined the character of the paper.
After a series of groundbreaking reports on organized crime in the 1970s, Advertiser owner Thurston Twigg-Smith and editor George Chaplin poured even more time and manpower into rooting out stories describing influence peddling and public corruption.
Jim Dooley documented how public officials enriched themselves by getting in on lucrative development projects, then made decisions on zoning and permits favorable to their investments. He exposed wrongdoing at the Downtown development project named Kukui Plaza that led to bribery charges against Mayor Frank Fasi. And Dooley was one of the first reporters to document questionable dealings at Hawai'i's largest private landowner, the Bishop Estate, now known as Kamehameha Schools.
Twigg-Smith, now 88, had learned the family business by working in nearly every aspect of The Advertiser's operations, including a stint as managing editor in the 1950s, and stood behind his reporters.
"I loved that part," he said. "I was hooked."
Under Twigg-Smith, The Advertiser had gone from certain death in the early 1960s to overtaking the Star-Bulletin in circulation.
By the early 1990s, however, there was no heir who wanted to take over the family newspaper and Twigg-Smith sold The Advertiser to Gannett for $250 million.
But today represents a moment in Hawai'i history that Twigg-Smith never envisioned: The final edition of The Honolulu Advertiser.
"Here's a case where one newspaper has two-to-one circulation advantage and obviously the people voted for The Advertiser," Twigg-Smith said.
"So I never thought I would see the day that The Advertiser closes its doors."
June 6, 2010
Saying goodbye to trusted friend
It's difficult to try to sum up a life in an obituary, to get the right tone and to pick out the most significant tales from a lifetime of adventures, but finding that point of grace where the words just fall away and the person's spirit almost speaks for itself is a transcendent thing for a writer.
Newspaper writers have the honored task of writing story obituaries for people in our community. None of us ever thought there would be a need to write an obituary for the newspaper.
I lived through the end of sugar in Hawai'i. I was born into a family that had worked on the plantations for generations, and no one ever thought that rows and rows of tract homes would sprout up where sugar cane used to stretch and wave in the sun.
But the sugar industry did die and I had a front-row seat to that sad end, so maybe it's not so surprising to me that something as seemingly essential as a newspaper would go away, too.
The Honolulu Advertiser has been an authoritative voice in my life.
I grew up on the Neighbor Islands, and it was the paper we reached for if we were trying for an "A" on current events homework. If an event in Wailuku or Koloa got picked up by the Honolulu paper, we knew it was a big deal. If a Baldwin athlete got written up in The Advertiser sports page, that kid was a superstar.
My dad was interviewed by Advertiser writer Jan TenBruggencate on Kaua'i once, and we had the article framed.
After college, when I worked in morning radio on Kaua'i, I would wait for The Advertiser to thump against the station door before I started putting together my morning newscast. Some days — most days — the paper was read on air verbatim. When I worked as morning anchor at KHNL, my first task of the day was to drive to The Advertiser loading dock at three in the morning and pick up the paper for the station so we had stories we could rewrite for our show.
There was a goofy logo painted on the front door of The Advertiser building recently that proclaimed the paper "Hawai'i's complete source." The Advertiser was never the complete source of anything, but it was a trusted source and often the first place to start on a hunt for information.
I will miss working here. I will miss my colleagues as we scatter to the winds.
Mostly, I will miss The Honolulu Advertiser as a reader, because for nearly all my life, my day hasn't started until the rusty delivery van with the bad muffler came rumbling up the street and The Advertiser sailed onto the driveway.