GEORGE MASON / 1924-2008
STAR-BULLETIN / 2001
George Mason, left, Steve Forbes and Lex Brodie talk after Forbes' keynote speech at a Small Business Hawaii Conference at the Ala Moana Hotel. Mason died yesterday at 84.
PBN publisher loved to scoop his rivals
George Mason believed the mundane recording of business interaction with government -- lawsuits, bankruptcies, tax liens, incorporation papers -- is a gold mine for news.
And the readers of Pacific Business News, which he founded in 1963, proved him right. It was a Monday ritual in offices across the state to turn to the public records on the back page of the weekly paper.
Those records generated countless news stories, and the feisty publisher loved to run promotional advertisements touting the times his staff scooped the daily newspapers.
Mason, 84, died yesterday in Honolulu.
Mason sold the newspaper in 1984 to American City Business Journals. He was president and publisher until 1992 and continued to write columns until 2005 as publisher emeritus.
"He practiced what he preached," said David Free, PBN production director for 21 years. "I like to think of him as wearing frugality as a breastplate."
It was a main theme of Mason's columns.
"He banged on the heads of corporate leaders in those editorials, and he got out there and showed them," said Free. "His frugality is what made the company. He started with nothing."
Dorothy Read Mason said her husband "really believed in giving back to the community and that as a business paper publisher he needed to be out in the community."
She said Mason served on the boards of numerous professional and nonprofit organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Manoa Valley Theatre.
"He was quite passionate about the symphony," she said. "He told me he was on 20 boards at once."
Mason served as director of economic development during the administration of Gov. William Quinn, the last appointed territorial governor and first elected governor, ending in 1962.
"That's when he first tried to persuade the daily papers to publish the public records," she said. "That's why he decided to start a newspaper."
Honolulu Star-Bulletin page designer Mark Coleman, one of many PBN alumni who moved on to work for other news media here and abroad, said, "I learned a lot from George, some fundamental principles, the value of the dollar and to watch the pennies. What mattered to him was not how long you stayed at the office, but how much work you got done. He was really fair to everybody."
Mason, born in Buffalo, N.Y., was drafted during World War II and served as a broadcaster on Army base radio stations in the Pacific. After working in radio in Los Angeles, he came to Hawaii in 1947 as an announcer at KULA radio station. He later worked in public relations and as a management consultant for the Hawaii Economic Service.
He is survived by his wife, sons Glenn of Honolulu and Doug of Wyoming, daughter Cathy of Montana, stepchildren Gregory Read of California and Bonnie Smith of Nevada, and three grandchildren.
Funeral services are pending.