Tuesday, June 08, 2010


The Advertiser really is dead

by Larry Geller

I wrote most of this yesterday but decided to sit on it for a day and have a look at the second issue of the Star-Advertiser.

So here goes.

Let me say at the very beginning that I know I can be resistant to change. For example, when my wife comes home with a new hairstyle, I often hate it for a few days, after which it looks ok, or maybe even really great. At first, though, I’m likely to be unhappy about it.

So when I picked up my Monday paper and it looked just like the Star-Bulletin instead of the Advertiser, I decided to give it a fair shake. Probably also, it will change a bit. Getting the new Star-Advertiser into production must itself have been an incredible undertaking. This is just me, I said, best to give it a chance.

But first impressions count, and after spending all day with Monday’s paper, I’m convinced it really is the Star-Bulletin. And let’s remember, the Star-Bulletin was the loser, big time.

I was happy to see Susan Essoyan’s story about Hannah Miyamoto’s lawsuit against a non-profit. Maybe all will be ok. After all, it’s the content that matters, right? David Shapiro and Lee Cataluna will appear magically before long, I have confidence.

On Tuesday, Cataluna did in fact appear, but they’ve stuck her on top of the letters on an inside page. She used to be right there on the front of the Hawaii section, the first thing I’d see after the major story headline, and almost always the first thing I read. She’s a tremendous asset, and the Star-Bulletin Advertiser has buried her.

Whether that’s a wise decision is just my opinion against theirs. Time will tell. But time proved that the layout, appearance, and general presentation of the Star-Bulletin was the less-preferred alternative. Remember, both papers had the same access to news. It’s how they packaged it for us that made the difference.

I am happy not to see Poynter Old Style used as both body type and headlines, as the Advertiser did for the past six years. Borrriiinnngggg.  Still, who else cares about typography anyway.

And I’m happy that not every writer gets their head cut off at the top by that tight framing gimmick. At least, the new paper seems to take less off the top when they do it.

After that, though, this is still the Star-Bulletin. The comics are still printed too small to read easily, and they’re subordinated to an inside page. Some of the pictures may have too coarse a screen (if anyone uses screens anymore, I don’t know). They waste huge amounts of space (this is the packaging part). Look at Tuesday’s Today front page. Only slightly more than one column of information, the rest is tabloidish waste of space (true, a couple of the pictures have some value). There are large pictures everywhere in the paper, large amounts of space devoted to page headers which convey zero information, instead of news. I don’t think I really need a giant picture of Mark Recktenwald. That’s the tabloid presentation again.

And just why does Visa get such a large product placement opposite the editorial?

What do you think? I think the new paper is still the old Star-Bulletin.

And the Star-Bulletin lost money, it failed, they were giving it away for free at Subway and still people wouldn’t subscribe. So David Black bought himself a profitable newspaper—and turned it back into the Star-Bulletin? This does not bode well.

So that’s my thought after Day 2.

If they want to put out a carbon copy of the Star-Bulletin, old Star-Bulletin readers may love it, but they are few. Many of them also took the Advertiser.

If Advertiser readers feel as I do, they may give up subscriptions in droves, their flight tempered only by the sad realization that there is now no alternative. So cancel, or get used to it? That’s the question.

If first impressions have any meaning, that’s mine. I will give it a chance.


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