Thursday, September 16, 1999


Star-Bulletin will close Oct. 30 after 117 years

Owners cite declining circulation
and revenue as reasons
for the shutdown

Star-Bulletin staff


Honolulu Star-Bulletin will publish its last edition on Oct. 30, ending 117 years of continuous publication as Hawaii's oldest daily newspaper.

The shutdown will affect all editions, including the online

More than 80 employees of the Star-Bulletin and an undetermined number at the Hawaii Newspaper Agency will be affected. The Honolulu Advertiser estimated it will hire 20 to 30 Star-Bulletin employees.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Rupert Phillips, left, of Liberty Newspapers, announces the closing
of the Star-Bulletin to a stunned staff. Star-Bulletin Publisher
John Flanagan looks on.

Rupert Phillips, general partner of the Star-Bulletin's owner, Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership, announced the closing to employees today, citing declining circulation and revenue growth.

The closing ends a joint operating agreement between Liberty Newspapers and Gannett Co. Inc., owner of the morning Advertiser. The agreement began in 1993, when Gannett bought the Advertiser from the Twigg-Smith family and sold the Star-Bulletin to Liberty. Hawaii Newspaper Agency manages the printing, marketing and distribution of both Honolulu dailies. The current JOA had been scheduled to run for 20 years, ending in December 2012.

"Despite our best efforts at producing an outstanding editorial product, the circulation of the afternoon Star-Bulletin continued to decline," Phillips said. The latest audited circulation was 67,124.

"The economy of Hawaii has been in a significant and steady decline ... since the paper was purchased in 1993. The result has been felt by the JOA -- as well as most other Hawaii businesses -- and led to decreasing earnings.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Star-Bulletin staffers listen to the announcement this morning.

"Unlike in Hawaii, the newspaper business on the mainland has continually improved since 1993, resulting in an increase in newspaper earnings. As a result, the investors in Liberty Newspapers have concluded that it is prudent to liquidate their investment in the JOA and invest elsewhere."

In recent years, the Star-Bulletin published the "Broken Trust" essay that inspired the attorney general's investigation of the Bishop Estate and award-winning series on local government secrecy, Hawaii's economic problems, questionably high gasoline and consumer prices and the power of Hawaii's public employee unions. The Star-Bulletin won 12 top Excellence in Journalism awards in this year's competition sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, three times more than any other local newspaper. The Star-Bulletin won 15 of the Hawaii Publishers Association's Pa'i awards this year, more than twice as many as any other newspaper.

"Unfortunately, the Star-Bulletin's continuing circulation decline over many years led us to the conclusion that improved results were not possible," Phillips said. "The staff produced a very good newspaper, but the market no longer supports an afternoon newspaper."

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