Star-Bulletin owner will buy the Honolulu Advertiser

Published: Feb. 25, 2010 at 9:18 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 26, 2010 at 10:56 AM HST
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Staff at the Honolulu Advertiser Thursday
Staff at the Honolulu Advertiser Thursday
David Butts
David Butts
Mark Platte
Mark Platte
Richard Port
Richard Port

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Friday morning Honolulu's two daily newspapers will share the same headline. The owner of the Star-Bulletin is buying the Honolulu Advertiser. The Bulletin will either be sold off or shut down.

The staffs of both papers got the word Thursday afternoon in separate 4:00 PM meetings. Advertiser workers sent out pictures on Twitter as they gathered in their newsroom to hear the details.

"I'm here today to announce that the Gannett Company has entered into an asset purchase agreement for the sale of the Advertiser to Oahu Publications. We're very confident Mr. Black and his organization will continue to find the commitment that the Advertiser has had in this community" said Evan Ray of the Gannett Company.

There's no word yet on the sales price or if there will be layoffs. But it's possible many people could lose their jobs.

Employees of the Star Bulletin got the news Thursday afternoon. Afterwards, Star-Bulletin publisher Dennis Francis talked about the deal.

"For anti-trust laws, you cannot own both newspapers so the Star-Bulletin will be put up for sale. It hasn't been profitable obviously; the economy in the last year or so hasn't helped. It's gotten a little worse. We made a decision we need to close the Star Bulletin or look to acquire the Advertiser.

"The actual termination of employees has not yet been decided yet because we really haven't had an opportunity to get our arms around what positions are available and what we're responsible for.

"In the end, there will certainly be some layoffs. If we can't sell the Star-Bulletin, then in a month or two you will see the consolidation of both newspapers" said Francis.

"People are just wondering about their particular situations, whether they'll have jobs or what's going to happen under the new regime. A new owner brings with him new ideas and his own management team and everything else, so we just have to figure out what he wants and how we'll go forward" said Mark Platte, editor of the Advertiser.

"All the employees in there felt very uneasy. Their future is in doubt, as I'm sure our friends at the Star-Bulletin are feeling the same way. Their future is even more in doubt, perhaps. It looks there's a good possibility it will be a one newspaper town" said Advertiser employee David Butts.

That almost happened in 1999 when the Star-Bulletin was on the brink of shutting down, but Canadian publisher David Black bought the newspaper. He is the one in charge of this deal and he is planning to sell again.

"Even though I like David Black, I don't agree with what is going to transpire" said Richard Port of Save Our Star-Bulletin.

"I think you will see the business community, as it did the last time, and the general public saying 'no, we don't want this'" said Port.

The buyout period will last six to eight weeks and both newspapers will operate as normal during this period. If the Star-Bulletin is sold, then two papers remain. If there is no buyer, the two papers will merge.

"I think you always want two papers, you always want the competition. I think that's really important. So if the Star-Bulletin were to find a buyer would be the best scenario. I think that would at least preserve more jobs" said Platte.

The group Save Our Star-Bulletin says they will be starting a movement once again; they did it back in 1999. They will be asking Governor Lingle to get involved in the next few weeks to try and preserve these two papers.

Photo source: Honolulu Advertiser via Twitter

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