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Big Island Newspapers Publishers Stephens Media Sued – End of a Two Newspaper Island?

Well I’m just going to copy and paste some of the pertinent information here and folks can read the rest at the link below.

To tie this in to the Big Island… Stephens Media own the Hawaii Tribune Herald, West Hawaii Today, Big Island Weekly and a few other publications on this island.

Sun Publisher and Editor Brian Greenspun today sued Stephens Media, owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in an effort to derail Stephens’ proposal to dissolve a long-standing business agreement in which it prints and distributes the Sun and shares advertising revenues with the Sun.

Brian Greenspun

Brian Greenspun

The agreement, known as a Joint Operating Agreement, was sanctioned by the Justice Department in 1989 to ensure that Las Vegas would have two independent newspapers with differing editorial points of view… In a deal reached in recent weeks between Stephens Media and three of the four Greenspun siblings, the family would agree to terminate the JOA agreement — unburdening Stephens from printing and distributing the Sun — in exchange for Stephens giving the family ownership of the URL lasvegas.com, according to court papers filed in support of Brian Greenspun’s lawsuit…

More Here: Sun Publisher Greenspun Sues to Block R-J From Gaining Newspaper Monopoly.

My guess… is that soon enough we will have only one newspaper here on the island… slowly phased out by an online edition of the paper that folks will still have to pay for.

For what it’s worth (FWIW) I cut back on my cable services recently as well… I mean why pay for things we don’t need?

Hawaii Tribune Giving Out IP Address of Commenters on Their Website – Attorney Trying to Make Reporter Turn Over Notes

In an article written today by John Burnett of the Hawaii Tribune entitled, “Subpoena seeks names of people who wrote online,” Hilo Attorney Ted Hong has requested personal information regarding folks that commented on an article written on January 30th, 2012.

Subpoena

Click to read article

The newspaper complied with the demand and gave away the information of their readers, which they can legally do.

…Hilo attorney Ted Hong, who’s representing Elections Office Administrator Pat Nakamoto in her defamation lawsuit against former County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong and former County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, filed the subpoena on Jan. 4 in 3rd Circuit Court. In it, he’s seeking the identities of individuals posting under the user-names “punatic,” “Taxedtodeath,” “punatic8,” “QQ,” “548991” and “rsjm.”

The document seeks “any and all account information, including but not limited to, name, birthdate, mailing address, telephone number(s), Internet protocol address, (and) name of Internet service provider … .” The deadline for providing the information is today.

A legal disclaimer on the Tribune-Herald’s website contains the statement: “IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.”

“We are complying with the subpoena requests,” said David Bock, Tribune-Herald editor and news director for Stephens Media Hawaii. “We are very protective of our news sources and reporters’ work, but we have no control over what members of the public write in our website’s comments section…”

Unfortunately, Ted Hong is also requesting that one of the paid journalists to turn over her notes in the case regarding this same case involving the fired election workers.

Hawaii has a shield law that protects both bloggers and journalists from turning over their sources.

“Hawaii allows anyone to claim protections under the shield law so long as they meet certain conditions, such as proving they write regular reports of substantial public interest.” (Civil Beat 8/31/12)

Burnett of the Tribune Herald writes:

“…West Hawaii Today also was subpoenaed by Hong, seeking the notes of Stephens Media reporter Nancy Cook Lauer regarding stories she wrote about the firing of Nakamoto and three other elections workers, and the flap that ensued.

Bock said Stephens Media is fighting that subpoena, noting that Hawaii has a “shield law” protecting journalists in most cases from having to turn over their notes or the identities of their sources…”

I hope that Nancy Cook Lauer and the folks at West Hawaii Today stick to their guns and do not allow their reporters notes to be turned over to investigators.  It would be a huge step back in journalism and folks would no longer feel comfortable talking to reporters about things they know about if they might get in trouble for it in the future.

I’ve noticed that Tiffany Edwards Hunt of the Big Island Chronicle and David Corrigan of Big Island Video News have been pretty quiet and not blogging as much of late.  I wonder if they also got served with these subpoenas?

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.

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?

End of Public Notices in the Newspapers Could Spell Trouble for Local Newspapers

Well this could be big trouble for our local newspapers and lots of money saved for Hawaii County taxpayers in general.

Yesterday, Senate Bill 2233 Relating to Electronic Communication passed with amendments by a vote of 14-0:

The committee(s) on WAM recommend(s) that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes in WAM were as follows: 14 Aye(s): Senator(s) Ige, Kidani, Chun Oakland, Dela Cruz, English, Espero, Fukunaga, Kahele, Kim, Kouchi, Ryan, Tokuda, Wakai, Slom; Aye(s) with reservations: none ; 0 No(es): none; and 0 Excused: none.

Senate Bill 2233:

Authorizes government agencies to disseminate publications of notice electronically, or in a daily or weekly publication of statewide circulation, or in a daily or weekly publication in the affected county, as appropriate; appropriates funds for the operational expenses of the office of information management technology; appropriates funds for the Hawaii public library system for public access support services; electronic notice requirement effective 7/1/2013. (SD1)

The other day Ian Lind blogged:

…But whatever the fate of this bill, the newspapers are facing another challenge in the form of a mainland competitor entering Hawaii’s market with a vertically integrated business plan designed to capture a big share of the market on publication of foreclosure notices. If you’ve been paying attention, foreclosures have been a big chunk of the legal notices category for the past several years, a situation that seems likely continue for at least several more…

Lind continued…

Hawaii newspaper publishers turned out to defend their existing monopoly on this source of government revenue. Despite protestations by some, it’s an important bit of income for publishers struggling to cope with the changing fortunes of the news industry.

But there’s another real threat to the newspaper’s legal notice revenues on the horizon. Actually, it appears to be closer than the horizon

I highly recommend reading the full post “Local newspapers face another likely competitor for lucrative legal notices“.

After I read about it and thought about it… I posted the following comment that I’m seriously thinking about doing similar to the MISSING page I have on top of this site:

This makes me want to experiment w/ posting public notices on my site on a page dedicated to just them.

I’ve heard that Stephens Media is very dependent on the government notices here on the Big Island in being able to stay profitable.

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)

Stephens Media Suing Bloggers and Websites That Use Their Content

The owners of the Hawaii Tribune Herald, The West Hawaii Today, and Big Island Weekly is Stephens Media.  Many folks consider the Las Vegas Review Journal the “sister” paper to the Big Island papers and is owned by Stephens Media as well.

In fact the Hawaii Tribune Herald has a button linking directly to their site.

So now it appears that the Las Vegas Review Journal is suing folks who use content from their papers without permission and or linking to the papers online site *Update* I meant to say folks that  are not linking back to the paper.

It’s now brought lawsuits against 34 separate websites.

The publishers of a noncommercial blog about cats in Boston are among the latest defendants in lawsuits claiming website operators have been infringing on copyrights by posting Las Vegas Review-Journal stories without authorization…

…Friday’s suits bring to 34 the number of lawsuits filed over R-J copyrights since March…

Full Article: 8 more websites sued over R-J Copyrights; 34 total

So those of you folks locally who are thinking of setting up a blog or running a website… be careful who you steal from!  Especially here on the Big Island where our only real newspapers are all dominated by someone so ready to jump all over any one for any thing.

It makes me think Stephens Media is really starting to lose money fast and furious and it’s looking at blaming bloggers for part of that profit loss.

I’ve seen other sites that have mirrored my site before and I didn’t really think any thing of it before… I guess I’ll start having to be more careful about allowing folks using my content.

President of Stephens Media Gets Blasted

Sherman Frederick is the president of Stephens Media, which of course owns all three Big Island papers here on this island.

Many of us who know about newspapers and the way they operate, know that they are highly influenced from top to bottom in what actually gets printed in them.

Look at some of the stuff that this guy is coming up with:

Frederick falsely claims all domestic terrorist attacks since 9-11 took place “on Obama’s watch.”

Frederick says he has “zero confidence” in the “science” of global warming.

Frederick falsely suggests health care bills will treat “illegal aliens” better than U.S. citizens.

Frederick: Obama’s legacy will depend “on how badly he wounds the American economy and how quickly Sarah Palin can fix it.”

Frederick: “Sarah Palin for President!”

http://mediamatters.org/research/201003220062

I wonder how much our own local media is influenced directly by this guy?