Wednesday, March 10, 2010


A question of staying employed in the news biz in Honolulu

by Larry Geller

I just want to pose a question now, and let’s think about it for a few days.

Suppose you were a reporter working for either the Advertiser or the Star-Bulletin right now. What would you do to increase your chances of having a job after the Advertiser changes hands and the Star-Bulletin is either sold or is shut down?

If you’re a sports writer, your job is critical to the success of a newspaper. Otherwise… does the quality of political reporting or court reporting, for example matter to the paper?  Probably not.

So do you work extra hard to produce dynamite coverage, hoping that quality work will count? Do you move to the left or the right, or just report the facts as you see them?

Does the new owner want a more conservative slant? Should you tweak the stories to suit?

And what of the editors. Should they (in fact, are they?) taking more conservative or right-wing stances in hopes of keeping their jobs? After all, there will be a surplus of editors if the number of papers is cut in half.

Have our papers already changed since the sale was announced?

Although newspapers claim to work for their readers, do they really do that, or are the advertisers the real customers? Or are the shareholders/owners the ones who have to be pleased? Or the executives?

One could describe the former Bishop Estate (current Kam Schools) as a real estate company that happens to run a school, or to describe HMSA with its huge reserves as an investment company that has to fund health care as well. And so a newspaper could be just an advertising vehicle that needs to carry some news in order to exist. TV is like that. It exists to get you to watch the ads. Between ads they have to provide something for you, or you’d tune away.

As I said, this is just a question. I’ve been saving up my newspapers and one day soon will sit down and review the editorials and news coverage. It could be a peek into the future of journalism in Hawaii.


I'm looking forward to that review.

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