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To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, November 11, 2000

Star-Bulletin closing after 117 years

This is what it was like

TWO images kept running through my mind as David Black's negotiations with Gannett and Liberty Newspapers to buy the Star-Bulletin drew to a close this week.

Charles Memminger came up with the first one to describe what our staff has been going through for the last 14 months. Last year's announcement that the paper would close on Oct. 30 was like being pushed out the door of an airplane at 35,000 feet, Memminger told me.

"At first we were all really upset," he said, but after the injunction halted the sale and we kept falling and falling through space for month after month, somehow we all got used to it. Amazing what people can get used to, right?

After Black came on the scene in late August, the picture changed. Fields, hills and trees became visible below us through the clouds, but we were still just tumbling gently through space. It was business as usual, but we were becoming more and more conscious of the ground rushing up to meet us.

Court deadlines and negotiation sessions were coming closer and closer together and cities, highways and buildings appeared below. The stress kept building. Now, we could see cars on the streets -- they looked like ants. Then, we could see actual ants.

The deadline arrived. We were at ground zero, the federal courthouse steps, 11:30 Thursday morning.

I can't remember a more climactic moment. David Black emerged from the courthouse smiling and said, "We have a deal." At that moment, there were two front pages waiting in the newsroom: one with the headline "Deal saves Bulletin" and another one reporting no deal. It came down to the wire.

In the second image, we're standing at the top of a ski jump waiting for the signal to take off, knowing that there's no turning back once we lean forward and start the run. It was a long walk up the hill. Yesterday, we got the signal and pushed off. On March 15, we'll start to fly.

Bulletin shutdown archive

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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