On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2024, this blogger was preparing to write for their post that is done every other week on the Politics Hawaii web page. As the computer was firing up and the writing fingers started working the keyboard, a notice came in from a friend, about a storied newspaper in town.
It was the news that the Honolulu Star Advertiserʻs owner, Black Press Ltd. of Canada, was entering court restructuring and that the Star Advertiserʻs owners would change to a hui of companies, the main one being out of Mississippi.
Furthermore, it was noted at the start of the article in the Star-Advertiser, that most likely the new hui would turn the Star-Advertiser around and sell the publication, as a sale would get some of their investment into Black Press back, which isn’t happening now with the current operation.
This is a situation that we all in Hawaii should have seen coming for a while now. As this blogger will remind the readers, there have been times when the Star-Advertiser made news when it came to scaling down and laying off workers. The most notable was in June of 2020 when the list of 29 employees of the paper was on the dock for potential layoffs. Some chose to cut their salary to keep more at work during a challenging time in Hawaiiʻs economy, and so fewer were laid off.
A couple of years later, news broke that four reporters accepted buyouts and left the company. At that time the news was more muted but it still denoted that the Star-Advertiser was still struggling, even when COVID and all of its effects on the economy and society abated.
Now, Hawaii and its news industry are here. Past is prologue, the future is uncertain as with many of these industry developments. The questions may start to come from many corners of the political and social spectrum about this development, perhaps bemoaning it and actively questioning what happens next.
But if anyone is paying attention to the current level of talk about the upcoming Hawaiian buyout by Alaska Airlines, one will take note that the level of passion on the subject is low, and the amount of noise is low. And so it may be, unlike what happened in 1999-2000 when Gannett sold off the Honolulu Star-Bulletin to Black, that this will get a blip on the news for a couple of days, and then be relegated farther back as the process works itself out.
As with the Hawaiian buyout of Alaska, this blogger will now keep track of this and comment on developments as they warrant and are necessary to “fill in” what needs to be said about this new piece of news in 2024.