USA Today quits printing in Hawaii
USA Today announced yesterday that it will stop printing newspapers in Hawaii on Dec. 28, after three years of being published by the Honolulu Advertiser.
The nation's highest circulated newspaper, with an average daily circulation of 2.3 million, will be printed in California with fewer copies flown to Hawaii for afternoon delivery beginning Dec. 31.
The announcement comes as the newspaper industry struggles to maintain circulation and advertisers. USA Today, owned by Gannett Co. Inc. of McLean, Va., last month said its online newspaper showed an 11 percent increase in readership, while daily circulation was up 1.04 percent for the period ending Sept. 30.
"Gannett generally has been having a difficult year financially; its stock has been falling," said Gerald Kato, a journalism professor at the University of Hawaii's School of Communications. "This is obviously seen as necessary cost cutting."
USA Today spokeswoman Heidi Zimmerman didn't return calls for comment. Lee Webber, president and publisher of the Advertiser, was out of town and unavailable for comment.
It is unclear what the economic impact will be on the Advertiser, also owned by Gannett, which in part built its $82 million printing facility in Kapolei with the idea of publishing USA Today, Kato said.
"To keep the plant economically viable they need to keep publishing newspapers ... any kind of reduction is going to have an economic impact," he said.
It also is surprising that USA Today, which is widely distributed in hotels, had not lasted longer in Hawaii's highly lucrative tourism industry, he added.
"On the surface you'd think this would be a very strong market in the sense that tourism is still doing fairly well and the market for USA Today is geared largely for tourists," Kato said. "I know when they began it was the goal or the hope to tap into the tourism market."