New year, new career

Written by Burl on 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.


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