From the lifeboat

Three more work days for employees of The Honolulu Advertiser remain, and that Sunday paper for June 6, 2010, will be a keeper, its last edition. My husband John will be among those who put the -30- on a 154-year run. That’s a lot of newsprint. And it’s also a lot of lives: reporters, editors, photographers, columnists, cold-type pressmen, IT personnel, advertising sales, back-shop crews. Young cubs learned from old salts and eventually found themselves jaded studies of fresh new faces.

Most of the time during my 6 years there, I worked on the copy desk and worked between it and the back shop to get pages approved and ready for printing. The guys in the back shop were a lot of fun, flirted with me all the time, and dished out advice on life and professional matters. I loved almost all of them. Some of them smelled or were just kinda creepy, but most of them were easy with a smile, even on deadline.

When I finally got a chance to write, I grabbed it with all I had. I was a surfer girl, but when I had to write some surfing stories, the Waikiki regulars went dark on me. The late Carl Viti, the photographer who was helping me succeed at my assignment, used his own surfing prowess to get the beach boys to open up. Photographers are the ice breakers for a green reporter. I was grateful every time I got teamed up with Carl or Bruce Asato on a story. Their gentle approach never left me for want of a good quote.

I met my husband at The Advertiser on my second day on the job. Talk about had me at hello! It took two years to get to that first date, but our professional relationship developed along with our friendship and it was well worth the wait. When we got married, we didn’t tell anyone. It was the greatest thing to keep a secret from the entire staff of a newspaper! Yes, quite a feat for me to keep all that from erupting ahead of time.

What’s the hardest thing ever about the closure of this newspaper, which has been the case across the country as old media fails to retain traction in our faltering economy? Saying good-bye. Not only to an old newspaper, barrels of ink, reams of newsprint, but to its history and its people. I would bet it was no easy task for the Star-Bulletin management to interview and then select the 27 from the Advertiser newsroom to be part of a new entity, the Star-Advertiser. And it is so very difficult for those 27 to know they were selected from a pool of very talented and worthy people. How do you turn away from those in the water when you are in the lifeboat? You cannot without tears.

I am very sad for everyone who has to look for a job now. I’ve done the unemployment routine and it is very trying on one’s self esteem. It is hard to keep one’s head up, to go into interview after interview, after failing miserably at how many before, after rehearsing in the mirror, after faking exuberance to try and be remarkable and memorable. But you must press on. You must believe in yourself. Please don’t give up.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


  1. No one has captured what Sunday is going to mean (and feel like) as well as you, Paula.

  2. i survived seven layoff rounds and the absorption of that many newspapers into our parent corporation, media news group.

    who would have thought that someone would last so long in newspapers who couldn’t spell, punctuate, write a cogent english sentence, and thought a preposition was an OK word to end a sentence with?

    i survived because fortunately, i was not a journalist. i was a circulation exec. (always bow your head when you say that word -circulation).

    eventually, i took a buyout. when you met me id been unemployed for eighteen months. now it’s been twenty-six.

    i loved the newspaper business. i loved my job.

    circulation people are sometimes considered the boiler workers in a newspaper.

    once a columnist for the san jose mercury news, one of our pubs, wrote about being bothered at home by telemarketers and door to door salespeople.

    i took our telemarketers up to her office and said ‘hi i’d like you to meet our in house circulation sales staff. you know, the hand that feeds you?’

    most of the people i know or tweet with in Honolulu either have worked or do work for one or the other of the papers, or are involved in journalism in other ways.

    i’m sorry there have been so many jobs lost. i know many are thinking they will have to move to the main land to find work. i wish all of them well. they are the brightest street lights on the block.

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