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To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, May 6, 2000

Make waves,
not deals

RECENTLY, the Star-Bulletin has often been lumped with the San Francisco Examiner, another afternoon newspaper published under a joint operation agreement -- practically our next-door neighbor. It's also struggling to survive attempts to sell it or close it. Both papers made the news this week, however, for their differing editorial practices.

Tim White, publisher of the Examiner, shamed the industry, declaring in court that he'd offered Mayor Willie Brown favorable publicity if Brown got behind Hearst's effort to buy the rival Chronicle.

Though White tried to take it back, attributing his sleazy remark to stress and exhaustion, he reportedly said the same thing to Justice Department lawyers in a deposition last December.

Meanwhile, lovable buffoon, Henry Peters -- legislative candidate and ousted Bishop Estate trustee -- took his show on the national airwaves. He told Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes" that everything would have been hunky-dory for the former trustees if "we would have bought the Star-Bulletin" when it was last for sale in 1992.

"That was the one thing you couldn't control?" Kroft asked.

"Absolutely," said Peters.

I have to believe that the "Broken Trust" essay would have been published eventually if it had never been offered to the Star-Bulletin, but why our morning competitor hesitated to print a document of such compelling public interest and news value still escapes me.

The Star-Bulletin is the kind of newspaper that gets sued by mayors, not one that cuts deals with them. For example, Frank Fasi came after us for $70 million in damages. He claimed we libeled him in a 1993 editorial that decried his attempt to force Campbell Estate to give the city 2,500 acres for a sports complex in return for zoning approval for badly needed housing development.

In that case, Judge David Ezra ruled what the Star-Bulletin wrote, "though strident, tough and uncompromising, (was) protected under the First Amendment" of the U.S. Constitution.

We believe being strident, tough and uncompromising in the public interest comes with the job.

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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