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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 3, 2010

Star-Advertiser to have 450 workers

BY Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer


November 2006: Del Monte Fresh Produce announces plans to close its Hawai'i operations, leading to the loss of 500 jobs.

February 2008: NCL America pulls its Pride of Hawaii cruise ship from the local market, eliminating about 1,000 jobs.

March 2008: Aloha Airlines shuts down, leading to the loss of 1,900 jobs.

June 2008: NCL America pulls its second cruise ship, the Pride of Aloha, resulting in the loss of another 1,000 jobs.

November 2009: Maui Land & Pineapple Co. closes its pineapple operations and lays off 285 workers. Since 2008, the company has eliminated more than 650 jobs, mostly from its pineapple operations.

June 2010: Star-Bulletin buys The Honolulu Advertiser and combines them into the Star-Advertiser, resulting in the loss of more than 400 jobs at both newspapers.

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Nearly half the daily newspaper jobs on O'ahu will disappear Sunday with the closure of The Honolulu Advertiser and launch of the new Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin employed roughly 880 people before a Feb. 25 announcement that Star-Bulletin owner David Black was acquiring the larger Advertiser from Gannett Co.

Star-Bulletin Publisher Dennis Francis said yesterday the Star-Advertiser will employ about 450 workers. The loss of about 430 jobs makes this one of the larger mass layoffs in Hawai'i in the past several years.

Francis said the Star-Advertiser has hired as many of The Advertiser Staffers as the combined newspaper could support.

He added that many of The Advertiser's better known writers and editorial staffers will be kept.

"There's only so many people you can house in a market of this size," Francis said.

Star-Bulletin managers offered jobs to 28 of The Advertiser's 120 newsroom employees. All 83 of the Star-Bulletin's newsroom employees will retain their jobs.

Among those being picked up are:

• Marsha McFadden, The Advertiser's managing editor, who will become the Star-Advertiser's city editor;

• Advertiser Local News Editor David Butts, will become business editor;

• Curtis Murayama, The Advertiser's sports editor, will become deputy sports editor;

• Columnist Lee Cataluna;

• Sports columnist Ferd Lewis;

• Sports reporter Stephen Tsai.

Most Advertiser Staffers who were not hired by the Star-Advertiser will work their last day tomorrow or Saturday.

"This is catastrophic," said Wayne Cahill, administrative officer for the Hawaii Newspaper Guild. "Not only is he (Black) closing a newspaper, he is dumping more than 400 good workers on the community."

Last month Black bought The Advertiser, its website, its nondaily publications and its new printing complex in Kapolei for an undisclosed amount from Gannett. Black has been working to combine the two operations since the purchase, and the new paper will debut on Monday.

The Advertiser, with a weekday circulation of about 115,000, has about 580 full- and part-time employees, while the Star-Bulletin has 300 employees and paid circulation of about 37,000.

Gannett and Black have said that the consolidation was necessary given the decline in newspaper advertising and readership, and the downturn in Hawai'i's economy.

According to Black, the Star-Bulletin has lost more than $100 million since he took it over in 2001. Gannett has said that The Advertiser has lost money in recent years, although it returned to profitability in recent months.