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Hawaii Tribune Herald to Shut Down Printing Press – Workers to Be Laid Off

I’ve been away on a small staycation to the Hilton Waikoloa the last few days and haven’t had a chance to comment about the recent announcement that the Hawaii Tribune Herald will be shutting down it’s printing press operations here on the Hilo side of the island.

From the Pacific Media Workers Guild

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald announced on Wednesday (June 27) that, starting in August, the Hilo newspaper will be printed by West Hawaii Today, a sister paper in Kailua-Kona, which will cause several layoffs.

The Aug. 18 edition of the newspaper will be the last printed in Hilo, according to the company. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald and West Hawaii Today are owned by Stephens Media, a Las Vegas, Nev., based chain that operates newspapers in 10 states.

The Hawaii Printing and Graphic Communications Union No. 413N was informed on Wednesday that members will be laid off.

The company explained that the decision to subcontract printing to West Hawaii Today was based on an assessment that the Hilo printing press is old and in need of repair. The company also cited the consolidation of printing operations as an industry trend nationally.

Workers at West Hawaii Today are not represented by labor unions. In a staff memo on Wednesday, West Hawaii Today said the Hawaii Tribune-Herald would be printed at its plant and then transported back to Hilo for packaging and delivery. West Hawaii Today said it did not expect to hire additional press employees.

At this time, the pressmens’ union said it is working out the details with Stephens Media and had no public comment.

The Pacific Media Workers Guild, which represents truck drivers and support staff at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald who could be impacted by the company’s decision to subcontract printing, is closely monitoring negotiations between the company and the pressmens’ union.

“We understand that our industry is facing financial pressure, but we believe the company owes its workers and the Hilo community a full explanation for this decision,” the guild said in a statement.

I feel sorry for the folks that will be losing their jobs, however I question the following statement:

“The company explained that the decision to subcontract printing to West Hawaii Today was based on an assessment that the Hilo printing press is old and in need of repair. The company also cited the consolidation of printing operations as an industry trend nationally….”

The timing of this closure is almost exactly two years to the date of when the employees most recently bargained for contract comes up.  On August 10th, 2010 I received the following media release:

The Hawaii Newspaper Guild and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald have signed a contract after nearly six years of negotiations.

The two-year agreement covers all employees at the Hilo newspaper except pressmen, who are covered by a separate contract, and managers. The pressmen’s negotiations lasted as long as the Guild’s. The contracts are similar.

Both unions have bargained with the newspaper jointly for years, but the negotiations were prolonged this time partly because the company refused joint negotiations.

The contract provides the first wage increases for employees at the newspaper since Jan. 1, 2002.

During the negotiations, the Tribune-Herald was found guilty of 12 unfair labor practice charges by an administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board. The charges included the illegal firing of veteran reporters Hunter Bishop and Dave Smith, both of whom were union leaders… 

More here: Hawaii Newspaper Guild and the Hawaii Tribune Sign Contract After Nearly Six Years of Negotiation

I have stated for years that I think the printed version of the paper was a thing of the past.  Even when the two Honolulu papers merged I just thought it would only be a matter of time before the Big Island went the same way.

On June 6, 2010 I wrote:

“Some folks are saying that the dynamics of the the whole digital era is what really killed off the Honolulu Advertiser… I’ve been saying that for the last 6-7 years now.

Big Island papers will probably consolidate soon.  I’ve already started thinking of names.  “Hawaii Tribune Today” was the newspaper name that I think would be most feasible combining Hawaii Tribune Herald with West Hawaii Today.

The funny thing… I don’t think there would be that many lay-offs as both papers seem to use articles at will from the pool of Stephens Media writers here on the island at their expense… Silent Sunday and the Death of the Advertiser… Big Island Newspapers Don’t Have Blogs!

There are some real issues that Hilo folks may have to think about when they decide whether or not they want to continue getting a Newspaper that is driven from nearly 120 miles away from where they live.

Is it local news if its being trucked over in vans every day?  I wonder how long they will be able to afford to send a fleet of vans over to this side of the island and back each day.  Would it even be profitable?   Will the cost of the paper rise as the price of gas fluctuates?

And the biggest question… Why hasn’t the Hawaii Tribune Herald themselves tell their readers what is going on?  It’s been nearly three days since the announcement has been made.  Yep…. I understand no one wants to write their own obituary… but at least tell your readers what is going to be happening and where there favorite local journalist(s) can be found.

I will offer any laid off person from the Hawaii Tribune an opportunity to start up and learn how to make a website/blog similar to something like my site is.  I am always discouraged when good journalists just quit writing simply because they don’t have a platform or audience.

Wordless Wednesday – The New Kid On the Block

The Hawaii Tribune Herald recently hired a new journalist.

His name is Tom Callis and he is from Covington, Washington and graduated from Western Washington University.

End of Free Online News From Big Island’s Main Stephens Media Newspapers

The other day I was browsing the Hawaii Tribune Herald online and I noticed this popup that kept popping up and I kept closing the window and for some reason it would take me back to the front page of the paper.  I didn’t really think anything of it at the time… but I just tried to access the paper online again today and got the same pop-up.

I took a closer look at the pop up and it read the following:

I’ve now looked at the West Hawaii Today site and they are also blocking readers from reading the whole articles.  It looks like folks are allowed to read 10 pages or something each month before things start getting funny on the sites.

I've used 7 page of 30!

The funny thing is… is they are not only blocking their own written articles… They are blocking articles delivered to them by the Associated Press.

I just checked out Big Island Weekly and it looks like they are still providing free online news… but who knows how long that will last?

Man Wanted By the Courts Found in the Hawaii Tribune Obituaries… Someone Failed!

This just cracks me up and I’m sorry for the family involved but it’s just too funny not to blog about.

In yesterday’s Hawaii Tribune Herald, February 27, 2011, on the inside of the front page ran the following obituary:

See below for circled close-up

Here is what is circled in red:

Obituary for John Fairlie Penku Sr., 50 of Mountain View

Now you go to the back page and you see the following in the Big Island Report:

I recognize this name

And a closer look and we see:

Failure to Appear

So let me do the work for the Hawaii Police Department.  You can quit looking for the dude… you aren’t going to find him!

(Thanks to Craig Watanabe for the heads up on this)

Hawaii Newspaper Guild and the Hawaii Tribune Sign Contract After Nearly Six Years of Negotiation

Media Release:

The Hawaii Newspaper Guild and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald have signed a contract after nearly six years of negotiations.

The two-year agreement covers all employees at the Hilo newspaper except pressmen, who are covered by a separate contract, and managers. The pressmen’s negotiations lasted as long as the Guild’s. The contracts are similar.

Both unions have bargained with the newspaper jointly for years, but the negotiations were prolonged this time partly because the company refused joint negotiations.

The contract provides the first wage increases for employees at the newspaper since Jan. 1, 2002.

During the negotiations, the Tribune-Herald was found guilty of 12 unfair labor practice charges by an administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board. The charges included the illegal firing of veteran reporters Hunter Bishop and Dave Smith, both of whom were union leaders.

The judge found that the company fired the union leaders because they were engaged in legally protected union activity, not because of any job-related violations. He ordered both Bishop and Smith reinstated to their jobs with full back pay and benefits. The judge also found the company guilty of illegally disciplining employees for participation in union activities and several other violations of employee rights.

Rather than implementing the judge’s order, the company has appealed to the NLRB in Washington, D.C. The appeal is pending.

Guild spokesperson for the talks and former Hawaii Newspaper Guild administrative officer Wayne Cahill said it was his belief the company had no intention of ever reaching an agreement, but that it had second thoughts because of the strong will of the employees, who were planning an island-wide consumer boycott against the newspaper if agreement could not be achieved.

Cahill said, “The employees and the full Big Island Labor Alliance made a strong statement at a rally in front of the newspaper on March 17. It had to be apparent to the company that it would have a hard time doing business in Hilo unless it treated its employees fairly.”

Cahill took over the talks in September 2009 after Guild sector representative Mike Burrell retired. Burrell had led the talks for the Guild for the first five years of bargaining. Cahill retired at the conclusion of the talks.

The Hawaii Newspaper Guild is a local of The Newspaper Guild, a sector of the Communication Workers of America. The Hawaii local also represents employees at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Maui News and the Maui Bulletin.

Silent Sunday and the Death of the Advertiser… Big Island Newspapers Don’t Have Blogs!

I’ve been kind of waiting for something big to come out of the Honolulu Advertiser today and I really guess it is just gonna kind of  fade off into the dust after more then a century of reporting news here in Hawaii.

Some folks are saying that the dynamics of the the whole digital era is what really killed off the Honolulu Advertiser… I’ve been saying that for the last 6-7 years now.

Big Island papers will probably consolidate soon.  I’ve already started thinking of names.  “Hawaii Tribune Today” was the newspaper name that I think would be most feasible combining Hawaii Tribune Herald with West Hawaii Today.

The funny thing… I don’t think there would be that many lay-offs as both papers seem to use articles at will from the pool of Stephens Media writers here on the island at their expense.

It kind of seems like… hey… “if there is nothing to print… let’s print something from the other side of the island… no one will notice the difference any ways.”

I mean they do it anyways and all they do is change their headlines.

For example today’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald had the following: What Happened to the Rain? and then the West Hawaii Today had the following: Isle Drought:  No End in Sight.  Exact same author, exact same article, just a different headline.

I also find it funny that these two newspapers are using the term “Blog” to attract readers to something on their papers and what I think they are simply doing is leading readers to viewer comments by cashing in on a key phrase, as the word “Blog” is hot right now.

When will either paper realize they don’t have any blogs on their sites?  They have comments on their sites to articles that were written!

Or maybe they simply don’t know the difference… pfft! :roll:

“Armstronged” at Jack in the Box by a Tribune Reporter

So I went to Jack in the Box today to have what I thought would be a short bite to eat on my lunch break today and as I was eating, some guy walks up to me and says “Are you Damon Tucker… I read your blog… I’m Jason Armstrong“.

At first I didn’t think anything of it as people often ask me about my blog and tell me they read it but then the name clicked… it was Jason Armstrong from the Hawaii Tribune Herald.

I felt a bit honored that he recognized me as I had never met him before and certainly never seen a picture of him before.  I do remember that he interviewed me last year on the phone for the Hawaii Tribune Article when Noelani Whittington of the Department of Public Works tried to blackball bloggers.

Any rate, Jason and I had a pretty friendly conversation however, he started right off the bat telling me that he would take my “Bet” that I had made about the Hawaii Tribune being in business for a long time.

I told him 8 years… and he went off on this long list as to why he thinks the Tribune will be around for much longer then what I predict.

I don’t blame him for wanting to stick up for his livelihood.  It is sad that the Star-Bulletin may not survive…

Mr. Armstrong, thanks for introducing yourself to me… but I still say the Hawaii Tribune is dead in 8 years.

You game?  I’ll put a $100.00 on this bet right here and now.

West Hawaii Today: More Ads… Less News

Anyone notice the new online layout for the West Hawaii Today?

They have switched to a four column template from a three column template.

What this does is squeezes out the news and gives room for more advertising on the front page.

More ads less news… check it out, the West Hawaii Today.

By the way, the Hawaii Tribune Herald is still at three columns, but I predict them to make the change soon.

Online ads are worth a bit more when they  stay on your front page then buried on pages underneath.

Hawaii Tribune Herald Readers Disappearing on Oahu

Blogs have taken off in a big way here on the Big Island.  Oahu residents can now read news/blogs and get more from them… then the Hawaii Tribune Herald.

Either this chart on this column written by Starbulletin Columnist Erika Engle is wrong… or it appears that the Hawaii Tribune readers on Oahu are literally disappearing.  I have sent a Tweet to Erika asking if the chart is correct:

Newspaper readership on Oahu

DAILIES

April 2008 to March 2009 April 2007 to March 2008
Newspaper Readership % of population Readership % of population % change
Honolulu Star-Bulletin 145,702 (a) 20.8% 132,690 18.9% +10.1%
Sunday 140,930 20.1% 132,945 18.9% +6.3%
Hawaii Tribune-Herald 312 0 5,502 0.8% – 94.3%
Sunday 213 0 5,889 0.8% -96.4%
Honolulu Advertiser 346,150 49.4% 343,458 48.9% +1.0%
Sunday 403,371 57.5% 408,617 58.2% -1.2%
Maui News 1,573 0.2% 5,331 0.8% -75.0%
Sunday 2,692 0.4% 3,901 0.6% -33.3%
West Hawaii Today 8,659 1.2% 6,977 1.0% +20.0%
Sunday 3,549 0.5% 5,969 0.9% -44.4%