Isle newspaper
readership grows

The Star-Bulletin has added
readers daily and on Sunday

By Erika Engle

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin has gone from a shut-down threat in September 1999 to increased readership under the ownership of newspaperman David Black.

Bucking a decades-long nationwide trend of decreasing newspaper circulation, increasing numbers of Hawaii adults are reading the state's major daily newspapers.

New York-based Scarborough Research has conducted twice-yearly market studies in Honolulu since October 2000, measuring consumer habits, such as newspaper and magazine readership, radio listening, television viewership and shopping decisions. Scarborough conducts its research independently, then sells its results.

The company conducts similar surveys across the largest 75 markets in the United States.

For newspapers, Scarborough measures readership, as opposed to paid circulation, which has long been measured by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. ABC announced plans this year to conduct its own readership surveys, citing the "newspaper industry's demand for credible, comparable readership data."

The Scarborough studies show an overall increase in readership for both statewide daily newspapers.

Numbers for both papers are strongest on Oahu, the largest market for each and referred to by Scarborough as the metropolitan statistical area, or MSA.

From October 2000 to March 2002, the Star-Bulletin's average daily readership jumped 38.8 percent to 202,500 from 145,900. Since the paper launched its Sunday edition in April 2001, Sunday readership increased to 187,100 from 185,950, a 0.6 percent increase.

Average daily readership of the Honolulu Advertiser rose 15.1 percent to 343,080 while its average Sunday readership dropped 10.9 percent to 410,280.

Scarborough's survey encompassed all four counties, referred to as the designated market area. At that level the readership increases were smaller for both papers, since neighbor islands have their own daily newspapers.

"I think both papers are probably better than they were prior to the breakup of the (joint operating agreement), so competition is good," said Don Kendall, publisher of the Star-Bulletin. "Hawaii has two better daily papers than it did 18 months ago."

While the Star-Bulletin's Sunday readership grew on Oahu, the statewide number dipped by 2 percent. Kendall said it would take time to grow the figure.

"You have to remember -- until last April there was no Sunday (Star-Bulletin). We went from zero to 190,000 a year. I think you'll see in the next survey that Sunday will be up substantially," he said.

Honolulu Advertiser President Mike Fisch did not return calls.

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