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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 3, 2010

AFTER DEADLINE
Team effort keeps The Advertiser strong


By Mark Platte

Everywhere I go, people ask me about the state of The Honolulu Advertiser. Are we doing OK? Are we going to make it? Do we realize what would happen if such an indispensable institution were to stop publishing?

Yes, yes and yes.

This past year was certainly a little rocky. We had labor issues. We all took pay cuts. We had some layoffs. Our managers went on furlough. We trimmed costs, which included slimming the width of the paper, combining sections and losing some precious space for news stories.

Unfortunately, all of it was necessary to get where we are today: a much leaner, but more effective and healthy, news operation.

Our staff editorial, online, advertising, production, circulation, technology, finance and human resources  is doing much more with fewer resources than ever. Yet in the past year, they have performed at an even higher level by understanding that for The Advertiser to push forward, we need this product at its highest quality. Our employees deserve much of the credit for keeping us the No. 1 choice for news and information.

We also appreciate the loyalty of our readers and advertisers. Without them, we would have no audience and no revenue.

Thankfully, advertising has picked up and readership is holding steady, despite newspaper readership declines over the past few years. In fact, Scarborough research data shows that the percentage of those who read a newspaper yesterday or last Sunday's newspaper on O'ahu has been higher than the national average by anywhere from 8.5 percent to 11.7 percent over the past five years. Clearly, readers here are dedicated to their favorite newspaper and we are grateful and humbled that most readers choose The Advertiser.

Online, our Web hits hovered between about 17 million and 19.6 million page views per month all year with year-over-year increases in seven out of the first 11 months. We had between 1.3 million and 1.6 million unique visitors with year-over-year growth in nine out of 11 months.

Research shows that in the past 30 days, more O'ahu adults visited our Web site than MapQuest, eBay, Amazon, ESPN.com or CNN.com. And our numbers were more than double any of our newspaper or television competitors.

Over the past year, we have helped raise about $1.3 million for the Save Our Sports program, continued to help needy families for the 81st straight year through our Christmas Fund, provided the most in-depth coverage of the proposed O'ahu rail transit system, tracked the "furlough Friday" debacle and published special reports about the Battle of Wanat in Afghanistan, our imperiled reef system, the 50th anniversary of statehood and Father Damien's road to sainthood.

Our editorial page continues to allow a forum where the biggest issues of the day can be debated and dissected and where our younger readers are given space to express their opinions .

We continue to help sponsor most of the major events in town, including the Great Aloha Run, the First Hawaiian Auto Show, the Honolulu Marathon, the 'Ilima Awards, Military Appreciation Month, all University of Hawai'i home games in seven sports and many other events.

Yes, the year has been rough but we are optimistic about where we are heading and how we need to get there.

Mahalo to the tens of thousands of you who buy our newspaper, visit us online and patronize our advertisers. We couldn't do it without you.

Happy New Year.