Friday, February 26, 2010

Just As Honolulu Rail Coverage Seems Balanced, Honolulu on Brink of Having Just One Daily

As we said here five days ago:

“Rail coverage by Honolulu’s two newspapers reminds us once again why it’s so important to be a two-newspaper city. One continues to splash rail stories that have remarkably little heft to them, while the other seems content to report on the process without contributing hysteria.”

Guess which one looks almost certain to go out of business.

Shock is the most common reaction we’ve heard to the news that the Honolulu Star-Bulletin is acquiring the Honolulu Advertiser from Gannett Corporation. Honolulu has been the country’s only major city with competing daily newspapers, but that seems about to change.

Both papers treat the news as the blockbuster it is in today's editions, and dozens of employees in the newspapers' newsrooms, back shops, advertising and circulation departments now face troubling days ahead about whether they’ll have jobs much longer.

What of Rail Coverage?

Their concerns trump just about any others, but we can’t help comment here that the implications for the Honolulu rail project are not inconsequential. Our February 21 post focused on the “all puffed up” stories (think Jerrry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt) on page one of the Advertiser, whose news hole (unlike the editorial page) seems devoted to the “view with alarm” school of journalism.

Like many other days, the Star-Bulletin carried nary a word about that which bothered the Advertiser so much last Sunday – concerns that seem laughable when you take time to think through those stories' topics.

Even if the Bulletin is purchased by an outsider and survives, we’ll be watching to see whether the Advertiser’s coverage of rail becomes more rational, more accurate and less alarmist about rail issues in general under its new ownership – which under the sale's terms will be the current Star-Bulletin’s management. One can hope.

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