Hugh-isms — Regarding The Honolulu Advertiser/Star-Bulletin Merger

Image courtesy of The Triumph of Bullshit

By Hugh Clark

I have questions and damn few answers. It utterly makes no economic sense, but then Gannett has acted money stupid for some time now. If I were still a stockholder, I would sue. It is not a merger so much as a walk away. I believe the Bulletin had no chance when it elected to become a Honolulu only paper, but it sure did not have the capacity to acquire the Advertiser in any normal business transaction.

That leaves open the questions of union busting in a new sophisticated way or a tax scam to create a giant tax write off. After all, Gannett had at least $350 million invested in The Advertiser, including its purchase and then construction of a new printing plant. I suspect you are dealing with a Goldman Sachs type of management that is crooked to the core.

Reminds me George W. Bush’s legacy — two unwarranted wars he left unfinished and a bevy of regulators who watched pornography more often than the crooks on Wall Street. I think my favorite Republican, President Teddy Roosevelt, would blush at all we see today, including this sham sale.

(40-year newspaper veteran Hugh Clark is a fellow Big Island Press Club member, friend and mentor to the Big Island Chronicle.)

13 replies
  1. Ian Lind
    Ian Lind says:

    Actually, I can see that it makes sense for Gannett. The corporation, as I understand it, has some substantial debt that comes due not too far down the road. It doesn’t see the potential for the Hawaii market recovering to the degree they would like, especially with continued competition. And they’ve said that the Advertiser’s location doesn’t provide the synergies they can obtain on the mainland.

    Gannett had a very profitable run with the Star-Bulletin, and with the Advertiser, which they now say has remained profitable. The recent liability of the debt taken on for the new printing plant probably hurts. But with this deal, they take that liability off the books and replace it with an asset or two (presumably some cash payment plus an IOU from Oahu Publications or Black Press). That’s a big swing on the accounting books for a company trying to improve its position so that it can refinance some of the other corporate debt coming due.

    There’s corporate logic there, in my view.

  2. John Powell
    John Powell says:

    Yes, very convincing. George Bush is responsible for the Star-Bulletin buying the Advertiser. I’m surprised you couldn’t think of an angle to put some of the blame on Lingle. You’re slipping.

  3. GD
    GD says:

    The internet and Craigslist are killing papers. Papers are wanting in credible news stories. TV’s also going down with them. People are starting to wake up and are tired of the official pap being feed to them.

  4. Brandon
    Brandon says:

    I had some hope that if Sam Slom or Malia Zimmermann bought the Star-Bulletin, the Neighbor Island bureaus would be revived.

    Since 2001, I’ve tried to buy a copy of the Star-Bulletin as often as possible, not just because it’s the underdog against the Advertiser, but because it’s a good paper.

  5. GD
    GD says:

    If Slom and Zimmermann could pull it off that would be great. Truth in news I can go for that. I enjoy a cup of coffee and reading a good paper instead of a computer screen. Small screen only one story not my cup of tea. Any one know whats happening in sale of papers?

  6. Mike Middlesworth
    Mike Middlesworth says:

    Ian’s got it right. The sale makes great sense for Gannett both financially and in terms of the company’s future. It’s now run by broadcast, not print, people and that’s the future they’re looking at. I’d even hazard a guess that Gannett approached Black rather than the other way around.

  7. Dave Smith
    Dave Smith says:

    Damon, if you’re talking about a bet with me, you’re full of it.

    As I said previously, I was willing to wager when you said the Trib’s demise would come in a “few” years, but when pressed for a definition you said that meant eight years. Funny dictionary you have.

    So now it’s 10? Hedging just a tad?

    Come to think of it, you’re full of it anyway.

  8. damon
    damon says:

    Well, no I wasn’t talking about you… when will you quit making ASSumptions… You could have clicked on the link before making the statement… but so be it.

    When I said a “few” years initially… I pretty much meant in the lifespan of the longevity of a paper. A few years… as I stated initially could be anywhere between 8 and 10 years.

    I’d rather be full of it… then a jealous former Tribune Journalist that can’t find employment in their field.

    Dave Smith… Pfft… I’ve about had it with your jealousy…

    So be it… I tried to be nice… from now on… I just ignore the jealous ex-unemployed journalists from now on…. (no dig at tiff… as I’m sure she’s going somewhere w/ what she’s got going)

  9. Dave Smith
    Dave Smith says:

    Damon, I didn’t click on the link because, as you probably know, I don’t visit your blog and haven’t for months. It’s a waste of time.

    So keep on following your little twisted reality where you make up definitions to suit yourself. And by all means continue to show your complete lack of knowledge about newspapers, as demonstrated by this obtuse comment: “I pretty much meant in the lifespan of the longevity of a paper,” which makes no sense, but then we have to consider the source.

    As for your cute little name-calling, did your son think that one up?

    And jealous of you? Dream on. What is there possibly to be jealous about? A blog that is visited for pretty much the same reason people slow down to look at a car crash?

    For your information, I still have a journalism job, as a federal judge has ruled and which will be apparent when the NLRB and other appeal actions are completed. And I am also currently employed, so now who’s making assumptions?

    And anyway, I’m glad you’d rather be full of it, because you really haven’t any other choice.

  10. Tiffany Edwards Hunt
    Tiffany Edwards Hunt says:


    I love your writing.

    I feel like I’ve just slowed down to view a car crash reading this back-and-forth.

    Keep on trucking all!

    I just cleaned the cobwebs in just about every corner of my house. Now I’m on to a little blogging and sewing…

    What was this thread about?

    Oh, yeah, that’s right, the Honolulu Advertiser/Star-Bulletin merger!

  11. Greg
    Greg says:

    Dave, That’s priceless! I’m going to check Damon’s blog now to see if the “Jaws of Life” are on the scene!

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