Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tale of two cities, one publisher

THE BIG MEDIA story in Hawaii isn't the tsunami threat anymore but rather David Black's purchase of the Honolulu Advertiser - the longtime rival of Black's smaller Honolulu Star-Bulletin. As Harry Liggett, formerly of the Beacon Journal, noted on the BJ Retirees blog:
The sale will lead to layoffs when and if the papers are combined, although the number of layoffs has not been determined.
Black's joy over his latest deal was only slightly muted. "It's a sad day when we can't keep two good papers running in a city of this size," he said.

Sad, indeed. At the time of the announced merger, Black's Beacon Journal was trying to wrap up negotiations with the Guild on a contract that expired way back in July 2008. And later this week the down-sized union will be voting on a proposed settlement that Guild spokesperson Stephanie Warsmith says is "concessionary" in pay and benefits. More concessions for a newsroom that has already been reduced to the size of a holiday staff. (Latest departures: three sportswriters.)

Buying and selling newspapers has been Black's modus operandi since he purchased the Beacon Journal and other papers in 2006 from McClatchy, which bought them from Knight-Ridder. At the time, Black, a Canadian publisher who owns a large estate of mostly weekly newspapers, expressed his delight in acquiring the Beacon Journal, asserting in a memo to the staff that there would be no layoffs while recognizing the paper's labor unions. Now-former BJ publisher Jim Crutchfield lauded Black's reputation "for figuring out how things work and making them better. He appreciates that value of journalism."

There is nothing that I can add.

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