Sunday, February 17, 2008
Gannett vs. the Honolulu Advertiser
A newspaper with as long a history in Hawaii as the Honolulu Advertiser isn't just a business. In a very real sense it belongs also to its readers. It's an institution.
Tonight, perhaps as I write this, six unions will take a strike vote. If a strike is called tonight or any time soon, it could be very damaging to the staff and to the paper itself.
Of course, if you're an Advertiser reader, you won't have read about the issue in the paper itself. Google will find plenty of information for you from other papers and bloggers.
Ian Lind's Saturday post has of discussion of newsroom cuts elsewhere and also a copy of a Newspaper Guild press advisory on tonight's strike vote. I won't give the link here because it's better if you check in with Ian on this. I'm not following it closely, he is.
The vote does not mean that a strike is imminent, but it does set in motion preparations by the six unions that represent about 600 Advertiser workers for a strike. Before a strike can occur, either management or the unions will have to give a 30-day notice to cancel the existing contract.
Even without a strike, the Advertiser isn't the paper it was just a few months ago. If you would like to learn what's happening in the courts, Ken Kobayashi now writes for the Star-Bulletin. I was happy to see his recent article, Prison care for mentally ill criticized. The only way to cover this story is to be present in the courtroom. It's the kind of story that should (and used to) appear in the Advertiser.
He wrote, describing how the Federal Detention Center here switches prisoners' meds without consulting a doctor:
[Psychiatrist Dr. Daryl] Matthews, who was assigned to help evaluate mental health services at the Guantanamo Bay detention center for suspected terrorists, said detainees there had better access to psychiatric services than federal inmates in Honolulu.
You read that correctly. Guantanamo has better psychiatric services than we have at our federal prison. (Michael Moore had a great idea when, to film Sicko, he headed towards Guantanamo with a boatload of workers suffering from diseases related to cleaning up Ground Zero after 9/11) (I know that this picture has nothing really to do with what I'm writing about, but I have been looking for an excuse to post it for some time).
Jan TenBruggencate's quality science and environmental articles can now be found on his own blog, Raising Islands.
These two reporters and others are gone from the Advertiser because its management offered an enhanced retirement package to 86 workers last year in an effort to reduce its staffing. The idea was to prune more expensive senior positions to be replaced (if they are replaced one day) with cheaper young workers.
Thank goodness Honolulu is still a two newspaper town.