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Honolulu Star-Advertiser Publisher Wins Top Industry Honor

Friday, November 1st, 2013

HONOLULU – Editor & Publisher (E&P) magazine announced today that it has selected Dennis Francis, president and publisher of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, as its Publisher of the Year.

“Ever since 2010, when Francis, 55, merged Hawaii’s two rival and heretofore struggling newspapers – the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin – into one now thriving Honolulu Star-Advertiser, he has made himself and all those who work with him winners. For that, Editor & Publisher selected Francis as Publisher of the Year,” the industry’s authoritative magazine said.

Added Ed Zindel, managing editor of E&P: “Not only has Dennis made the Star-Advertiser a newspaper that is stronger than ever with innovation and a deep commitment to his employees and the readers they serve, but he has shown great leadership, community involvement and vision.”

He said Francis was chosen from among 58 nominations received from around the world, including publishers from large, well-known papers.

“While I am honored to receive this award, it should really be referred to as the ‘Newspaper of the Year’,” because it is the Star-Advertiser’s talented management team and staff that has produced the strong results we have seen since the merger,” Francis said.

Francis was the general manager at the Honolulu Advertiser when David Black, who bought the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2001, enticed him to take charge of the Star-Bulletin in 2004. In a move that E&P said, “was considered incredibly daring,” Star-Bulletin owner Oahu Publications, Inc. in 2010 acquired the Advertiser from Gannett Co. and merged the papers. The Star-Advertiser has since has grown substantially.

“Dennis has been very supportive of the newsroom,” said Frank Bridgewater, Star-Advertiser vice president and editor. “He promotes a strong and independent voice, giving the newsroom the resources to do our job and taking legal action when we think it is in the best interest of the public to do so.”

Under Francis, new magazines, a USA Today Hawaii Edition and a host of special sections and inserts were launched; The Garden Island daily newspaper on Kauai was purchased; and a paywall for staradvertiser.com was begun. All these initiatives have been successful and driven revenue, which in turn has strengthened news products.

The Star-Advertiser’s daily circulation (print and digital replica) grew 38.9 percent from December 2010 to December 2012, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, which tracks the newspaper industry. Based on the six months ending last March, the organization ranked the Star-Advertiser as the 21st largest paper in the country, up from No. 25 in September 2012 and No. 67 in March 2011.

“This is a story about a risk-taking leader who was able to combine two failing newspapers into one profitable, growing newspaper,” said Dave Kennedy, senior vice president of marketing. “Dennis Francis drew from his industry experience, business know-how and understanding of the community to assemble and motivate his team and succeed at a time when many said newspapers were dying.”

As part of his mission, Francis is active in many community organizations. He serves on the boards of numerous nonprofits and is chairman of the board for the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce. In addition, the Star-Advertiser in 2012 gave more than $1.6 million to charities, groups, organizations and the arts in the state.

“It was obvious to us that Dennis’ leadership in successfully spearheading the merging of the newspapers was a great trait,” said E&P’s Zindel. “But we were also impressed with the deep support he has shown the Hawaii community over the years.”

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser is Oahu’s leading provider of in-depth, consistent and credible local news and information. Its website, staradvertiser.com, receives more than 18 million monthly page views worldwide as measured by Google Analytics and is “Liked” by 200,000 Facebook users, ranking eighth in the nation among daily newspapers. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser is the flagship publication of Oahu Publications, Inc., whose portfolio includes MidWeek, HILuxury, and a growing roster of community periodicals and in-room resort magazines.

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