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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 14, 2010

A big life demanded a big obituary

By Mark Platte

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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The death of former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi occurred in the early morning hours of Feb. 4 and we implemented a plan that provided a meaningful and authoritative remembrance of a political icon.

We got off to a rocky start when the e-mail from the Fasi family to the news media announcing his death got hung up in our computer system and we had to rely on the Hawaii News Now Web site for confirmation. But before long, we not only had our own statement but our online presence grew stronger by the hour with new stories, archived pieces, cartoons, videos (some supplied by Hawaii News Now) and photo galleries of Fasi from the 1950s to the 2000s.

A special interactive live-blogging tool allowed hundreds of readers to send their condolences.

Several years ago, political columnist Jerry Burris put together a Fasi obituary that we feared would be lost through our many software upgrades. It survived our computer transformations and was placed online within hours of the news. Burris' historical piece, one of his best, took up two full pages of the Advertiser the next day.

Burris came up with a second offering as well, a column about Fasi's tense relationship with the Honolulu daily newspapers. Columnists Lee Cataluna and Ferd Lewis provided their own delightful takes about Fasi.

Meanwhile, we used famous Fasi quotes, a timeline of his career (both good and bad) and personal stories about his life for the newspaper the next day.

Gordon Pang pulled together the masterful main story, with contributions from Robbie Dingeman, Curtis Lum and Mary Vorsino, who wrote a separate story about Fasi's impact on Honolulu. Pang scored an interview with Fasi's family the following day and allowed readers to get a glimpse into growing up with such a famous father.

Coming up with the proper looking design treatment for such a historical event took a few revisions but in the end, we came up with something we were all proud of: an iconic shot of Fasi flashing a shaka, packaged with a graphic treatment of his famous canary yellow Fasi campaign sign, within which we listed some of his notable achievements.

Overall, we did right by the mayor and his legacy.

Mark Platte is senior vice president and editor of The Advertiser. Reach him at 525-8080. Or follow his Twitter updates at www.twitter.com/markplatte.