Wednesday, February 06, 2008



by Larry Geller

I'm still puzzled at newspaper circulation on Oahu. How come so many are given away? How do you make money giving stuff away? I know, I know, advertisers pay for it. But still...

Take Midweek (please).

If someone stops you outside a supermarket and asks," Do you read Midweek?" you must answer," Yes, I read Midweek." I was told this as soon as we arrived in Hawaii. This important advice came right after "Take your shoes off before going into someone's home." That's how critical it was. The idea, it seems, is that if you said that, you would automatically get a free shopping cart of groceries or something. If you didn't say that, you were just a dumb loser.

I'd be happy to say that, but no one has ever asked me. Shucks. Now, as then, a cartload of food would be a very valuable prize in exchange for a painless little white lie. Anyone would lie, wouldn't they? It may be that no one reads Midweek.

I'm probably one of the very, very few people who has asked the Post Office not to deliver Midweek to my mailbox.

I heard that the paper claims it reaches virtually 100% of Oahu households. Ok, they mail it to virtually 100% of Oahu households, but is it read? Who can say how many people actually read it? How many throw away the paper and keep the ads? How many just hang out around Supermarket entrances hoping to be asked that magic question?

How many people use it to line cat litter boxes?

These days we live in a condo and Midweek isn't delivered to anyone here. Instead, a pile of them sits downstairs in a rack, right near the rack holding the Honolulu Weekly. The Weekly pile is smaller than the Midweek pile.

But here's my observation:

The Weekly disappears most every week. The Midweek pile goes down a bit, but there are plenty left. And our condo is within walking distance of a Safeway, a Times, and a Foodland. You'd think everyone would want those ads.

So what do I conclude from this research? Do I think that Michelle Malkin really has more than 280,000 readers on Oahu? Well, at least at our condo, not everyone reads Midweek. They don't pick up the entire stack the way they pick up the Weekly.

I conclude that there must be very few cats even in our pet-friendly condo.

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I question your conclusion. Midweek has other uses. Cleaning windows. The bottom of a birdcage. Starting a fire.

People in Hawai'i are so disempowered that meddling pointlessly in politics and reading gossip and shopping circulars in Midweek bring meaning and (false) empowerment. Where newspapers created a sense of "nationalism" in the third world in the nineteenth century, Midweek reinforces Oahu's perverse and tragic sense of "local" identity. Take off your slips and tell them, "Yes, I read Midweek." Maui is so much happier without a Midweek. No paper has been able to claim such a wide readership. And of course, we have multiple xenophobic, contradictory nationalisms, not just one hierarchical one like O'ahu.

I have also stopped receiving that media conglomerateʻs crap paper from the post office

I'm a left winger, and I only read it to see what the right wing blowhards like O'Reilly, Malkin, Coffee and Hamada are parroting. Often it helps me sharpen my opposing viewpoints so that when I encounter other right wingers in other settings, I'm ready to rebut them.

Unfortunately Midweek is probably what's keeping Honolulu a two-daily newspaper town. Midweek's profits help the struggling Star-Bulletin stay afloat for the owner of both, David Black. Consider it a necessary evil.

I also asked the post office to stop delivering MidWeek... it just cluttered up our house.

I think "skim" would be a better word to describe it than "read".

From a small business perspective, I'll say we find the Windward Oahu section of the Midweek to be an extremely cost effective form of advertising. We get so much business from that ad that we don't have to advertise anywhere else. Helps us keep our costs down, and customers tell us all the time that "everybody reads the Midweek." I think that's more true of the local sections than the entire paper.

Thanks for your report on the ad success. Combined with Hunter's comment earlier about Midweek keeping the Star-Bulletin afloat, I have a bit more respect for the paper, if not for its political slant.

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