Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Should Pacific Business News worry or laugh at the Advertiser's new Business Today section?

by Larry Geller

In fact, the first two issues raise the question, "Why?" Ok, I let yesterday's first attempt go. I like to give things a second chance, whether it's a new restaurant that hasn't got its act together or even an innovation in business news coverage.

Today was their second chance, and maybe they need three. Could it be that with reduced staff the Advertiser is simply feeling challenged to get its work done?

I found much of the information to be bland. As a former business executive I can say that I found little that would be of any use or interest to me.

Much of the information concerned distant places rather than Hawaii. I'm glad that the Big Apple is launching a program aimed at foreign visitors, but so what?

Nice article about Limahui Garden on Kauai. It would have fit perfectly in the travel section. It was instead given about 1 2/3 pages in this new "business" section. Nice article, wrong section.

More disappointing was an "interview" with Peter Savio that is really a paid ad. I wrote earlier about the Advertiser running advertisements with bylines as though they were written by a reporter, here and here. This has no byline, but there is a strategically placed hibiscus on the page. The hibiscus is the recognizable mark of the Advertiser and appears throughout the paper. Now, this hibiscus is different, but you might not catch that. Is it an ad or is it an article? One clue: it doesn't appear as a news article on the Advertiser web page (the Kauai garden piece does).

Moving to today, over breakfast we both grabbed for the section at the same time. The headline is Senior advisor loses license. Did Linda Smith run into some kind of trouble? Is Karl Rove back? No, the article is about an investment advisor who has defrauded elderly clients. On the web the headline is Hawaii financial adviser loses license, which is much better. And it is business news, not travel news. But the article about the shortage of engineers in the oil and gas business and A&B's investments are Mainland, as are most of the minor articles—iPhone, Intel, Disney. Actually, there is some local news creeping in, maybe there's hope.

Today the full-page ad by BlueEarth Biofuels is identified as "An Advertising Feature," which is better. Maybe soon they'll be able to admit that it is really a "Paid Advertisement."

This section can only get better.

While it's ok to experiment, unless it will have a life of its own outside the newspaper, I would hope they'd try rotating the pages back to fit inside the rest so it's convenient for us readers.

If this section is supposed to compete stand-alone with Pacific Business News, PBN has nothing at all to worry about so far.


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