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Tiser PM is DOA

Friday, January 7th, 2005

Gannett announced today that the Advertiser’s afternoon edition of their paper will cease to exist within a week.
Created in the wake of the JOA separation from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Gannett Advertiser’s PM edition was designed to honor already standing advertising contracts, maintain circulation levels, artificially boost ad rates, deny the new Star-Bulletin competition access to their former circulation workers and — frankly — give those daytime pressmen something to do. But when the Star-Bulletin didn’t knuckle under, the playing field changed. All of the above reasons are now moot points in maintaining an Advertiser PM edition. And they couldn’t get any subscribers willing to pay for it, either.
Notice that when the Gannett execs talk about the size of the afternoon edition, they talk about the number circulated, not the number of paid subscribers. Their notion of a subscriber is someone who doesn’t complain about a free paper.
It’s no surprise that the Gannett Advertiser’s PM edition was a doomed product. (We predicted it back in June, 2001!) Killing it is a logical move. As one union official pointed out, it’s about time Gannett made decisions that help the Advertiser instead of hurting the Star-Bulletin.
Most likely to be hurt in this closure are the ILWU circulation folks. The no-layoffs clause in the general Guild contracts at the Advertiser run through this year, I think.
Also, as expressed here some time ago, for the Gannett paper to “win,” they have to kill us. For the Star-Bulletin to win, we just have to stay alive.
It would be easy to say something like “Victory is in sight,” but we should probably worry when Gannett makes a decision based on sound business sense rather than ignorance and punitive meanness.

How weird is this?

Friday, January 7th, 2005

After having a dream in which Dave Donnelly shows up from the dead because he misses us, I go to work, straighten up my desk — and out falls a glassine negative envelope with Dave’s mugshots. OK, Dave, we miss you too!

Looking Back

Friday, January 7th, 2005

After lunch with one old high school friend and dinner with another — where I learned my senior year girlfriend is apparently doing an 18-month stretch for federal securities fraud!! — I tumbled asleep and dreamed of being at some sort of party where I chatted with Dave Donnelly, and realized in the middle of the conversation that he wasn’t supposed to be there. He died, almost exactly a year ago. I just missed folks, he shrugged.
Dave was not replaced at the newspaper. In the way that strapped companies do, the work was spread around to the survivors. Neither paper has a full-time three-dotter, and that’s a shame, because these columns provide a vital service — they’re the catch-all for news items that don’t justify a full story, but are of interest to readers, and they reflect the times better than most of the “serious” newspaper stories.

Sick, sick, sick II

Thursday, January 6th, 2005

A note from Coughin’ Gene: I sent all that stuff re whooping cough to my doctor. Here is his response:
You might be right. However, after the pertussis cough is established, antibiotics may have no discernible effect on the course of illness but are recommended to limit the spread of organisms to others. The drug of choice is erythromycin, which you got 9 days ago. If we tried to establish a diagnosis via naso-pharyngeal swab, it would be inaccurate since you’ve been on erythromycin …
Apparently there is no treatment for adults. The erythromycin basically just stops contagiion. Incredible.

Sick, sick, sick

Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

I’ve got it. Many other people have it. I thought it was a bad flu, which I contracted in February — yep, no flu shot this year — but I toughed it out, and it went away, except for a nagging dry cough that sometimes was so severe it would awaken me. Then a relapse. The doctor put me on a course of heavy antibiotics, which took ten days. Feeling better — but the damn cough won’t go away. The medical procedure I had last week didn’t help. So back again to, the doc, who now has me on even bigger antibiotics and steroids. What IS this? My doc says it’s a hardy, pernicious bronchitis with a deep-rooted infection, and that “everyone” is getting it. Our drummer, Gene, is convinced it’s whooping cough. How come we don’t get over this like when we were kids? he wondered. Because viral diseases evolve too, and the antibiotics that don’t kill them make them stronger.

New year, new career

Friday, December 31st, 2004

Yep, it’s the Last Days for Star-Bulletin Chief Photographer Dean Sensui, my compadre, who joined the paper about the same time I did, and whose obsessive perfectionism made the paper look better than it had any right to.
Dean and I have had many adventures together. Dean goes on to big-time TV production on “Hawaii Goes Fishing.” Funny, I seem to remember him getting seasick aboad a small boat off Kahoolawe …

As we batten down the hatches here in Kailua for the annual New Year’s excessive thunderstorm — the kids were sandbagging the house yesterday — it’s time to take care of unfinished Web biz. This site will be undergoing serious renovations in the next few weeks — hasn’t anyone noticed that Saddamarama has moved elsewhere? — and links may be hinky for a while.
OK, let’s look at unfinished business. Hmmm. Looks like I’ve been softballing Gannett lately. There are a few things to finally get around to:

* The legal case against the Advertiser’s graphics department for stealing software is apparently going forward.

* The Advertiser staff enjoyed a lovely, expensive Christmas party at the Halekulani. What’s that? Only management types invited? The rank and file weren’t supposed to know about it?

* There was much speculation a few weeks ago about a letter sent to Star-Bulletin investors from a “former employee” that contained bizarre accusations about business practices and circulation, a letter so juicy that Gannett management passed out copies to their ad-sales staff and instructed them to go forth and poison the well. This anonymous letter, however, contained so many factual errors and misrepresentations that Gannett — likely on the advice of legal counsel hipped to slander laws — decided to retrieve all copies that were passed out. It didn’t help that the sole source of the anonymous letter was — Gannett Advertiser management. So much for peaceful co-existance. Even Star-Bulletin/MidWeek publisher Dennis Francis, a former Gannett tough guy himself, was rattled by the sheer ethical lapse of this vicious episode. They must think everyone in Honolulu is an idiot, Francis told me a few weeks ago. All they’ve done is expose how underhanded they are, and how stupid.

* I picked up a Gannett Advertiser a few days ago at Pearl Harbor and it has a wrapper touting the Battleship Missouri site. But parts of it looked familiar … hey, these drawings are by Star-Bulletin artist David Swann! But they’re not credited! What are they doing in a Gannett package? Swann confimed that they are his work, and that he complained bitterly to Gannett about it, and was told to take a hike. Seems they acquired his original files and used them without permission, and passed them off as their own work. (To be fair, Dave got no satisfaction from our own management either, who viewed the problem as less than a burning issue.) It’s no surprise that Gannett has passed off the good work of others as their own, and defended it by saying the creators are powerless to prevent it, but let’s look at the subtext of the message here — what the heads of the Gannett Advertiser are really saying is The work by our own artists sucks, so we have to steal from others. It takes a certain amount of hubris to not only try to screw the enemy, but also go out of your way to screw your own employees.

* McCorkingdale is retiring as Gannett CEO next year and they have no designated successor. Think I should apply for the job? I just want it for a little while. A month or two on McCorkingdale’s salary and bennies and I can retire for life.

See you on the flip side.

Going under

Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

Really not much to report as I’ve been sitting around the house burning off accumulated vacation time. The high point will be going into hospital for a procedure today — somehow, I’ve managed to live this long without ever having general anesthesia. Today I’m going under completely! Well, here goes …

Merry Christmas, SecDef

Friday, December 24th, 2004

An interesting, bittersweet evening at a friend’s goodbye luau. Justin Lui is off with his Guard unit to Iraq, and like many soldiers, he asked for and got his requested Christmas presents early — a pair of boots suitable for desert terrain, a workable scope for his rifle, welding gear so that he can repair equipment in the field. The military simply isn’t supplying the necessary gear to proscecute the war. Here’s an irony — Justin’s brother Joshua found a signed blank cashier’s check for $30,000 Thursday morning and spent a good part of the day tracking down the owner. For his troubles, he was given a box of cookies. I blurted out, You should have spent it all on body armor!

Chrissmus iz hea

Thursday, December 23rd, 2004

It’s always a treat to hear the Honolulu Symphony do Beethoven’s 9th “Chorale” — one of the most stunning pieces of music ever written — every Christmas season. Also interesting to watch heir apparent conductor Joann Falletta leap into the shoes of Sam Wong.

Flight Patterns

Saturday, December 18th, 2004

The Dec. 7 commemoration gave me a chance to visit two of my favorite airplanes. This Aeronca 65TC was being flown on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, by Roy and Martin Vitousek and got caught up in the attack. There is still bullet damage in the rear fuselage longerons. I supervised restoration a couple of years ago (most of the grunt work carried out by Dr. John Rand and students at Kapiolani Community College, bless ‘em!) and we finally hung it in the airport this month, using a plan I drew up almost a decade ago. The other is the aerospace museum’s B-25 Mitchell parked at Hickam, which is looking pretty ragged. 12 years ago, we repainted the nose to the more accurate falcon-head marking of the 345th Bomb Group, but it was soon painted over by orders of the base commander. He feared complaints from animal-rights activists!

By the way, many local airline and airport workers aren’t happy with the way the Department of Transportation handles the airports — they perceive conflicts of interest and poor supervision and graft — and they’re dogging the DOT with a Website called The site apparently has nettled the Lingle administration.