Death of a Newsroom

Written by Burl on July 24th, 2010

The last time I was in the News Building on Kapiolani Boulevard, the Star-Bulletin staff was being kicked out. At noon, March 14, 2001, the staff of the afternoon daily were no longer welcome. We trooped out and walked down the street to our new digs at Restaurant Row. At the last moment, I grabbed a dolly and stole a Star-Bulletin newsbox. We still have it in the newsroom.
I haven’t set foot in there since. We weren’t just no longer welcome, the Gannett overseers erected barricades and walls around the Honolulu Advertiser newsroom in case someone could accidentally see in. The building, once friendly and open to the public, went on lockdown.
That’s all in the past. Gannett sold out, the Honolulu Advertiser merged with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and the News Building is up for sale. Opened in 1929, designed by the all-star architect team of Emory & Webb, this is a grand structure and deserves its place on the National Register. Alas, auwe, I’m not sure Gannett ever sunk a dime into the infrastructure except to beef up security. A lot of the general office materials are being auctioned off this weekend.
I haven’t been back since we were kicked out, so I stuck my nose in Friday afternoon to see if I recognized anything. In a word, yes. But Gannett had subdivided the access to the building — security! — while opening up the newsroom. It seemed like an amazing amount of space for a newsroom. There were also clues about Gannett’s high-living executives, such as a pile of Italian leather iPad covers, obviously ordered after the newspaper had been sold. For the last decade, the Star-Bulletin wasn’t just the underdog. We were like the undermouse.
But the overwhelming feeling was one of sadness. Competitor or not, this was once a vibrant, busy place, full of knowledge and experience. Hawaii is not just losing a newsroom, it’s losing a room full of good people — people whose professional experience will not likely ever be replaced.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. gigi-hawaii says:

    What a magnificent stairwell! I can imagine how nostalgic you must’ve felt. Was Mary there with you, too? You both spent a significant part of your lives there. It’s so hard to say good-by, because it is so final.

  2. Primo Kimo says:

    sad. the whole thing, ah.

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