At least four editorial staff members have accepted a buyout.

Oahu Publications Inc. is making more cuts in the newsroom of the state’s largest daily newspaper, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Four editorial employees, Vicki Viotti, Dave Segal, Jason Kaneshiro and Sophie Cocke, have accepted a voluntary buyout offer and have either left the paper or will be leaving at the end of the month, according to a Slack message sent to staff by deputy editor Ed Lynch and seen by Civil Beat.

Lynch couldn’t be reached for comment, but the message was confirmed by a Star-Advertiser employee.

Star Advertiser newspaper office Restaurant Row.  27 may 2016
The most recent cuts to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s newsroom are in line with industry trends. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2016)

The affected employees either couldn’t be reached or declined to comment on the record. Their positions included roles in editing, sports and general reporting.

“I don’t have final confirmations just yet from the company on how many people they’re ultimately going to accept,” said Michael Applegate, executive officer of the Pacific Media Workers Guild.

Applegate confirmed last week that one of the named employees had been accepted for a buyout, and the guild was seeking additional information from Oahu Publications.

The Honolulu-based publishing company flagged 31 employees across all departments for removal in June 2020. 10 editorial employees left in 2017 and in 2016, the company trimmed the newsroom by more than 10%.

Oahu Publications Inc. also owns MidWeek, West Hawaii Today and a number of other Hawaii publications. Dennis Francis, president and CEO of the company; Rebecca Stolar, vice president of human resources; and Chief Revenue Officer David Kennedy did not respond to requests for comment.

Separately, the Ogden Newspapers, a group that operates over 50 daily newspapers across the country, recently announced that it’s looking to sell The Maui News, which covers Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

The cutbacks are in line with media industry trends. There have been over 17,000 media layoffs so far this year, according to a June industry report. The Athletic, Los Angeles Times and National Geographic are among the other outlets that have laid off staffers.

Nearly one-third of all newspapers in the U.S. are owned by 25 companies, according to a 2020 report from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Private equity firms like Axel Springer SE also cut jobs earlier this year as the result of plans to ramp up the use of artificial intelligence, according to a CNN report.

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Author