The Honolulu Star-Advertiser is the largest daily newspaper in Hawaii and the only daily newspaper left on Oahu. It is published by Oahu Publishing Inc., which also publishes the largest weekly newspaper on the islands, MidWeek. The Star-Advertiser was born of The Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in June 2010.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser published its first edition on Monday June 7, 2010, after the U.S. Justice Department gave permission to the paper’s owner, David Black, to close the Star-Bulletin. No buyer could be found for the Star-Bulletin after Black put it up for sale, claiming losses of about $100 million over the 10 years he owned the paper. He put the paper up for sale after making a bid to buy the larger Advertiser from its owner, Gannett.
Oahu Publishing Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Advertiser seven days a week in broadsheet format. It also publishes a website.
The emergence of the Star-Bulletin as the victor in Honolulu’s newspaper competition was unexpected because the Advertiser had by far the largest circulation of the two papers and a much higher quality printing plant. It also had as owner the largest newspaper company in America. That company, however, is known to prefer non-competitive market. The owner of the Star-Bulletin had been tenacious in keeping the paper alive, and with MidWeek had a valuable asset to help it do so.
The Star-Advertiser is being led by former Star-Bulletin senior executives, including that paper’s publisher and editor.
The latest audited figures for the Star-Advertiser as of Oct. 1, 2011, are for the three-month period ending Dec. 31, 2010. They show the paper’s Sunday circulation as 130,757 and its daily circulation as 117,885.
The Advertiser got its start in 1856 as the Pacific Commercial Advertiser. The Bulletin was the first daily newspaper on Oahu, launching in 1882. In 1912, the Evening Bulletin merged with another paper, the Hawaiian Star.
A pivotal moment in the history of the papers came on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Star-Bulletin published extra editions and the Advertiser didn’t, because of mechanical problems with its presses. The Star-Bulletin also distinguished itself by not using a racist term to describe the Japanese, unlike the Advertiser, which did.
The Star-Bulletin and Advertiser entered into a joint operating agreement in the early 1960s. The two papers were published by the Honolulu Newspaper Agency. The Star-Bulletin was purchased by Gannett, America’s largest newspaper chain, in 1971. Almost 20 years later, in 1992, Gannett sold the Star-Bulletin to Liberty Newspapers and purchased the Advertiser.
In 1998, Gannett announced that it was going to buy out Liberty’s stake in the Star-Bulletin and shut it down. After a lawsuit to block the closure, the Star-Bulletin was put up for sale and David Black purchased it for $10,000. He began publishing the Star-Bulletin in March 2001. Nine years later, Gannett agreed to sell the Advertiser to Black.
The fact that Honolulu has joined most American cities as a one-newspaper town means that advertising rates will be higher; the community will have fewer options where to turn for news and to get broad exposure for different points of view; and commercial printing rates will be higher and options more limited. The result has already been visible in the Honolulu Weekly‘s decision to choose to print on Maui rather than be restricted to the Star-Advertiser’s size and accept its rate hikes.