The Long Dance of the Dailies:
A Honolulu Star-Bulletin Timeline

Written by Burl on June 14th, 2010

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.

One of the first editors of the Daily Bulletin was Lorrin A. Thurston, another missionary descendent and foe of Hawaii’s royal government. After Thurston left the Bulletin, he became secretary of the Hawaiian Gazette, an anti-royal weekly newspaper.

In 1888, the Gazette entered into a joint operating agreement with the now-daily Advertiser and Whitney returned to run it, remaining five years.

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.

Jan. 1, 1900 — During the burning of Chinatown because of plague fears, power to the Hawaiian Star’s presses were cut. The staff rallied with an extra edition, single sheets printed on a hand-cranked press.

1908 — Charles H. Atherton purchased controlling interest in the Hawaiian Star.

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.

June 2, 1921 — Thanks to his tireless pro-America boosterism, Wallace Farrington was appointed territorial governor.

Jan. 1, 1924 — Joseph Farrington, Wallace’s son, became Star-Bulletin managing editor.

1925 — The Honolulu Star-Bulletin bought the Hilo Tribune-Herald, operating it from afar until the Big Island paper was divested to Donrey Media in 1964. It became the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

July 6, 1929 — After Wallace Farrington completed eight years as territorial governor, Frank Cooke Atherton turned control of the paper over to Farrington, who was named president and publisher.

Oct. 6, 1933 — Wallace Farrington died at 62. The following year, son Joseph Farrington became Star-Bulletin president and general manager.

July 26, 1934 — President Franklin Roosevelt was the first president to visit Hawaii while in office, and the Star-Bulletin published a 118-page special edition to commemorate the visit.

Aug. 23, 1940 — The Star-Bulletin reported that postmasters throughout the territory were to prepare to register and fingerprint 30,000 aliens and Filipino nationals under federal Alien Registration Act.

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 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.

May 24, 1943 — The Star-Bulletin endowed a yearly full-tuition scholarship to the University of Hawaii for a Farrington High School senior. The scholarship continues today.

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.

April 1, 1946 — The Star-Bulletin reported “Big Tidal Wave Sweeps Isles; Many Lives Lost.”

June 1946 — As scientists, military and government leaders converged on Honolulu for atom-bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, a cocktail party for the visitors was interrupted when Star-Bulletin newsboys dashed through the crowd, waving newspapers that announced the tests had been cancelled. The printed extras were a practical joke, apparently the only one ever perpetrated by the Star-Bulletin, or at least admitted to.

Aug. 9, 1946 — The Star-Bulletin published the famed picture of aging Iuemon Kiyama tearfully embracing his son, the decorated Sgt. Howard Kiyama of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, upon his return from Europe. The picture also occupies the entire front page of the New York Daily News and appeared in Life magazine, Liberty magazine and other publications. Taken by Star-Bulletin photographer Robert Ebert, it won the National Press Photographers Association “Spot News” award in 1946 and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

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. “The record of Hawaii in the Korean War does not bear out the senator’s charges,” the Star-Bulletin pointed out. “The record shows that Hawaii has suffered 1,370 casualties while fighting the forces of communism in Korea. Of these, 348 have been killed, 902 wounded, 95 are missing and 25 are prisoners of war. Military authorities have estimated that Hawaii’s casualty toll in Korea is three to four times that of the average of the states, on the basis of population.”

June 19, 1954 — Joseph Farrington died at his desk in Washington at 56. Widow Betty won a special election on July 31, 1954, to finish his term. She was then elected Nov. 2, 1954, to a full term.

Nov. 6, 1956 — Betty Farrington was defeated by John Burns in an election for Hawaii’s nonvoting congressional delegate.

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.

Aug. 21, 1957 — Betty Farrington was elected president of the Star-Bulletin, the third Farrington among four presidents and Hawaii’s first woman president of a publishing company.

March 12 and Aug. 21, 1959 — The Star-Bulletin published its famous statehood editions. The most famous statehood picture — Chester Kahapea hawking statehood editions two days before his 13th birthday — appeared March 13. The picture, snapped by Murray Befeler of Photo Hawaii, graced the front pages of numerous newspapers, including the New York Times and New York Daily News.

Oct. 31, 1959 — Publication of the first Sunday Star-Bulletin

May 23, 1960 — The Star-Bulletin reported tidal wave devastation in Hilo.

July 22, 1960 — Riley Allen stepped down as editor after 48 years in the seat. 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.

March 17, 1961 — Star-Bulletin Editor William H. Ewing won a National Headliners award for his eyewitness reporting June 10, 1960 — and subsequent days — of leftist demonstrations and riots in Japan in protest against a new U.S.-Japan security treaty.

The Star-Bulletin’s best-known writer, Lois Taylor, joined the staff in 1961, supposedly to cover “society” — she was introduced as “The wife of Stanley Taylor, prominent Honolulu businessman … she and her husband lead a gay social life in addition to bringing up their four children …” — and over the years developed a reputation as the newspaper’s wittiest writer before retiring in 1990.

Nov. 19, 1961 — Plans to buy the Star-Bulletin from the Farrington Estate were made public. The “hui” includes Chinn Ho, Joseph Ballard Atherton, Alexander Atherton, William H. Hill and John T. Waterhouse.

Nov. 23, 1961 — L. Porter Dickinson was named publisher.

April 30, 1962 — The Star-Bulletin sale becomes final.

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 were combined.

March 10, 1963 — The Star-Bulletin moved into its third home, the News Building at 605 Kapiolani Blvd., from its location since 1916 at 125 Merchant St. — the headquarters that the Hawaiian Star established in 1893. Its earliest home had been on Alakea Street between King and Hotel streets, a business location originally occupied by the Daily Bulletin founded in 1882, which became the Evening Bulletin on May 16, 1895.

June 21, 1963 — A newspaper strike began, eventually shutting down the Star-Bulletin and Advertiser for 47 days

Feb. 1, 1966 — Star-Bulletin reporter Mark Waters published his own obituary, written the day before, on how cigarettes brought his death from lung cancer. “Cigarettes were the death of me,” he said. Reprint later ran in Reader’s Digest.

March 7, 1966 — Kokua Line began. The popular feature is still going strong today.

Oct. 2, 1966 — Retired Editor Riley Allen died at 82.

June 1969 — Mayor Frank F. Fasi banned all Star-Bulletin reporters from City Hall, and later boycotted the Associated Press as well. The Star-Bulletin eventually had to take City Hall to court, arguing that public access to the media was essential in a democracy.

Aug. 2, 1971 — Announcement of Star-Bulletin purchase by Gannett. Star-Bulletin circulation was 128,000.

Aug. 23, 1971 — Star-Bulletin reporter Arlene Lum began articles on “The New China,” with datelines of Beijing, Shanghai and Canton. One of the rare American journalists to travel inside China after the 1949 revolution, she spent five weeks touring her ancestral homeland in August and September, months before President Nixon’s 1972 visit. She was named an Overseas Press Club award winner on April 21, 1972.

April 30, 1971 — James Couey, 47, became the Star-Bulletin’s first Gannett publisher, and died less than two months later of a heart attack.

Dec. 16, 1971 — John A. Scott named Star-Bulletin publisher.

Feb. 18, 1972 — The Star-Bulletin, continuing to emphasize China coverage, published a special China section. In addition to reporting by Arlene Lum, it featured articles by Star-Bulletin special correspondent Koji Ariyoshi. While in China, Ariyoshi met for nearly three hours with an old acquaintance from the late World War II era, Chinese Premier Chou En-lai. President Nixon “will find the premier much younger than his numerical age and an untiring man with a mental storehouse of facts and details and ability for clear analysis,” Ariyoshi said.

1973 — Star-Bulletin editor Barbara Morgan began a public inquery on the relatively low numbers of women on state boards and commissions. By the time she was finished, the number had doubled.

Oct. 31, 1975 — Philip T. Gialanella named Star-Bulletin publisher.

Sept. 5, 1986 — Catherine Shen became new Star-Bulletin publisher.

May 3, 1989 — Former Star-Bulletin reporter Arlene Lum named Star-Bulletin publisher.

Jan. 7, 1993 — Gannett announced it has reached an agreement to sell the Star-Bulletin to Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership in a move that will allow Gannett to complete its acquisition of the Honolulu Advertiser. Star-Bulletin circulation was 88,000. John Flanagan, executive editor, was named Star-Bulletin editor and publisher.

Jan. 31, 1993 — It was announced the Advertiser will control all of the Sunday paper starting at the end of February.

Aug. 9, 1997 — The Star-Bulletin published the Broken Trust essay by five community leaders critical of Bishop Estate trustees that leads to investigations, court actions and statewide soul-searching to bring about corrective action. The $1 million-a-year Bishop Estate trustees were eventually toppled and reforms set in motion.

Sept. 1-2, 1999 — The Star-Bulletin published “What Price Paradise?” a two-day series that compared retail prices in Hawaii and on the West Coast. Reporter Rob Perez later won a National Headliner award under the News Beat Coverage category.

Two weeks later, Liberty Newspapers announced it will shut down the Star-Bulletin on Oct. 30 because of better investment opportunities on the mainland. Star-Bulletin circulation was 67,124. Soon after, a group of community members banded together under the moniker “Save Our Star-Bulletin” in an effort to keep the paper alive.

Oct. 13, 1999 — District Judge Alan Kay issued a preliminary injunction in federal court preventing Gannett Co. and Liberty Newspapers from taking further steps to close the Star-Bulletin.

Oct. 20, 1999 — Liberty and Gannett filed a notice of appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to overturn Kay’s preliminary injunction. Newspaper owners argue that the First Amendment gives the paper the right to publish or not to publish.

Nov. 15, 1999 — A three-judge panel with the 9th Circuit upholds Kay’s preliminary injunction.

April 22, 2000 — Liberty and Gannett agreed to put the Star-Bulletin up for sale, under a court-supervised process approved by Kay. The sale was supervised by Federal Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren.

May 5, 2000 — Kurren approved Liberty’s hiring of brokers Dirks Van Essen & Murray to market the Star-Bulletin.

Sept. 1, 2000 — Three groups submitted formal bids for the Star-Bulletin. They include Black Press Ltd., which operates 80 community newspapers in Western Canada and Washington state; Hadland Communications Inc., which owns five weekly publications in the Los Angeles area; and a local group that includes former Congressman Cecil Heftel, Kauai publishers Peter and Jane McClaran and Kauai investor Jeff Lindner.

Sept. 27, 2000 — Kurren approved Black Press Ltd. as the sole qualified bidder for the Star-Bulletin.

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.

Dec. 1, 2000 — One day after completing his purchase of the Star-Bulletin, Black announced he is purchasing RFD Publications, which owns the 280,000 circulation MidWeek newspaper.

March 14, 2001 — Last Star-Bulletin under Liberty Newspapers — and under the 38-year-old JOA — rolled off the Advertiser presses.

March 15, 2001 — Honolulu Star-Bulletin began 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 was named publisher.

April 1, 2001 — The Star-Bulletin published its first independent Sunday edition since 1962.

Nov. 8, 2001 — Oahu Publications laid off about 20 workers. The remaining workers, from the publisher on down, took 10 percent pay cuts.

Jan. 16, 2001 — The Star-Bulletin’s newsroom Guild employees preserved jobs with their vote to take a deeper paycut.

April 18, 2002 — For the first time since 1971, members of the local community become involved in running the Star-Bulletin as isle business leaders acquired a minority stake in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and MidWeek. Real estate and media investor Duane Kurisu, banking executive Warren K.K. Luke and his family, attorney Jeffrey Watanabe and his wife, Lynn, and Island Holdings Inc., which is represented by Colbert M. Matsumoto and Franklin M. Tokioka, reached an agreement to acquire an interest in the two local newspapers.

June 24, 2002 — Larry Johnson, former chief executive officer of the corporation that owned Bank of Hawaii, joined the lineup of Star-Bulletin local investors.

Sept. 12, 2002 — Torstar Corp., publisher of the Toronto Star, paid $12.6 million to acquire a nearly a 20 percent share of Black Press Ltd., owner of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and MidWeek.

March 29, 2003 — Frank Teskey, former manager with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette, was named Star-Bulletin publisher.

June 3,  2004 — 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. 7, 2009 — The Star-Bulletin cuts 17 newsroom jobs and announced other economy-related layoffs were imminent. The Star-Bulletin also became a tabloid.

Feb. 25, 2010 — An agreement for Oahu Publications Inc., which owns the Star-Bulletin and MidWeek, to acquire its longtime rival, the Honolulu Advertiser, was announced in simultaneous meetings in both newsrooms.

March 9, 2010 — Gannett Co., Advertiser owner, issued layoff notices to 600 employees informing them that they will lose their jobs when the pending sale closes.

March 12, 2010 — The Hawaii Newspaper Guild informed Star-Bulletin members that, if the newspapers merge, Oahu Publications will honor their contracts.

March 14, 2010 — Ads marketing the sale of the Star-Bulletin began a 14-day run in both local newspapers, The Wall Street Journal and affiliated Web sites. Oahu Publications sent sale notices to several dozen newspaper groups and media conglomerates worldwide. Oahu Publications informed a few dozen key Hawaii investors of the pending sale.

April 27, 2010 — A ruling by the Justice Department paved the way for the consolidation of the Star-Bulletin and Advertiser.

June 6, 2010 — The two rival papers rolled off the presses for the last time.

June 7, 2010 — The Star-Advertiser debuts.

This timeline appeared, in much abridged form, in the last edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.


7 Comments so far ↓

  1. gigi-hawaii says:

    BB, do you still update your other blog regarding Gannett and the SB? Or is it dormant? Leave the link here if you want to.

  2. damon says:

    Thanks for the refresher.

    I’ve never been a “journalist” other then in High School and a couple college papers.

    I full on always wanted to be a journalist, but just never even worked at crafting the skill.

    Having my blog has enabled me to do what I have always wanted to do… and that is write about things that I like to write about.

    I will never have the skills to be a paid journalist… but I will always have the skills to write about the things I do and things in my community the way I view them.

    This whole merger has been a bit sobering for me seeing lots of folks I have respected so long in print… now struggling to figure out what they are going to do.

    I wish all of us the best of luck… as I too myself will be out of work again soon.

    I chose to leave the DOE and move back home to the Big Island… things here are just as bad as Oahu…

    I’m just glad now that I’m trying to make a little “coin” off a “BLOG” of all things and very happy that I get sponsored now for writing a blog.

    I control all revenue, gifts, etc.

    It’s not much… but it is nice to have something.

    I’ll never make a living blogging… but it is nice to have some checks rolling in from online blogging.

  3. Burl says:

    I’ll be updating Honolulu Newspaper War soon.

  4. Brad Warthen says:

    When you refer to the Guild, is that the same Guild that Felicia Day is involved with? And if so, may I join?

  5. Burl says:

    Nope, the Newspaper Guild, of the Communications Workers of America.

    Felicia Day is in a whole category by herself.

  6. Vicki Viotti says:

    Is a Tiser timeline planned? Just curious.

  7. Burl says:

    The Tiser had their own timeline on their website. Pretty well done, too. I think Bob Krauss did it.

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