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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 2, 2010

Thank you to all who shared this journey

By Mark Platte

A decade ago, my family and I decided to embark on the adventure of a lifetime: to leave our relatives and friends in Southern California and move to O'ahu to become part of The Honolulu Advertiser.

We had never even visited Honolulu before and although we had been frequent visitors to Maui, Kaua'i and the Big Island, we really had no idea what awaited us here.

Our daughter Brianna was not yet 3 and our son Christopher was 6 months old. Today, she's almost 12 and he's about to turn 10. Hawai'i is really the only home they've ever known and our experience here has exceeded our greatest expectations.

As I advanced through the editing ranks at The Advertiser, being promoted to editor in 2006, I was pleased with the progress of our newspaper and website, which have improved markedly through the talent and hard work of a staff that is second to none.

Being the editor of a 154-year-old institution such as The Advertiser is daunting, given all who have come before me, including Henry Whitney, George Chaplin and Thurston Twigg-Smith, the former publisher with whom I still communicate and seek story tips.

My main mission was to leave The Advertiser better than I found it and to always know that we served the readers first while being accurate, fair and aggressive.

On Feb. 25, we were broadsided with the news that The Advertiser, the dominant newspaper, would be bought by our smaller competitor, which claimed to have lost over $100 million since 2001. I was officially informed only an hour before the announcement, and, even today, the news still seems unfathomable.

A few hours after the announcement, I was told that I, along with several others, would not be part of the new venture. We could stay with Gannett Co., which was selling The Advertiser, or we could look for jobs elsewhere.

I toyed with moving back to the Mainland but my wife, Sara, and I decided our home is here. We stepped up our efforts to remain on O'ahu, and, a month ago, I sought counsel from Rick Blangiardi, a television executive I greatly respect. As we talked, I floated an unconventional idea: How about letting me apply for the news director's job at Hawai'i News Now, which was coming vacant in late May?

Rick was immediately struck by the idea even though I have worked all my adult life as a newspaper reporter and editor and have much to learn about television news. With Rick's passion for the idea, and News Director Chris Archer's support, what seemed unlikely has become a reality. I begin my new job May 10.

I still love The Honolulu Advertiser. Readers of this column know how important I believe it is for this community to have a quality newspaper. But I am thrilled by the opportunity to work with the Hawai'i News Now team and to have them teach me the industry.

Thanks here go to 600 employees who made The Advertiser and honoluluadvertiser.com and all of their products a great success.

Allow me several mahalos for my leadership team, in particular Marsha McFadden, Sandee Oshiro, Jim Kelly and my executive assistant, Leslie Kawamoto, without whom I would be lost.

Current publisher Lee Webber and former publisher Mike Fisch, both outstanding mentors, helped me tremendously, as did the two top editors Saundra Keyes and Jim Gatti who preceded me. Financial managers Richard Fuke and Amy Kunz, along with marketing manager Tom Kunz, advertising vice president Clint Schroeder and operations senior vice president Mike Cusato are great friends and colleagues. Human resources director Miki Sugikawa taught me patience and humility, which I try hard to practice with mixed success.

Most of all, it was an honor to serve all of you readers, who made The Honolulu Advertiser the chief information source in Hawai'i. I am indebted to you.

It is my hope that I left The Advertiser in better shape than I found it. Aloha.