This crisis in journalism is explicitly tied to the dangers of consolidated media ownership and speculation. We all suffer when media corporations trample public service and local journalism in their drive for larger profits.
Joe Moore, a veteran newscaster at Fox's Honolulu affiliate, KHON-2, can speak well to the issue. On Thursday, he anchored the station's newscast as sweeping newsroom layoffs were taking effect. As a small concession from management, Moore was allowed to write and read his sign off to viewers. Courtesy of NewsBlues (a newscaster gossip site), here's the transcript:
Finally tonight, this has been a difficult day for most of us here at KHON2. It was the final day on the job for our general manager Rick Blangiardi, who refused to carry out the mass firing of over one third of our station employees as ordered by our new owners, who will take over tomorrow.
The firings are not a matter of cutting excess fat to improve efficiency; they will be a butchering of an already lean workforce that will remove muscle, bone, and vital organs.
A small percentage of the people fired will be replaced by automation, the rest will severely reduce our ability to serve the community in the manner in which you, and we have become accustom.
The new owners have changed the name of their company from SJL to Montecito. It is a virtual company, with no office building, that specializes in buying and selling TV stations. Their business plan for KHON2 calls for an immediate, drastic, across the board reduction of personnel in order to slash the payroll.
At the same time, the plan calls for a huge increase in advertising revenue to be generated by a sales department that is already far exceeding industry standards. In short, it is not a plan used by a quality broadcast company to foster a long-term commitment to its employees, or to the viewers it is charged with serving.
It is the sincere hope of all of us, who have worked long and hard to make this TV station what it is today, that the departure of Rick Blangiardi, who stood up for us while he was standing tall for quality television, it is our hope that his departure will not be in vain, that our new owners will reconsider their draconian plan and pledge to the people of this state that operating KHON in the best interest of the people of Hawaii is not only their number one goal, but also their number one priority.
For all of us at KHON2, thank you for joining us this evening, we hope to see you later tonight for our KHON2 news at 10.
The message was not repeated on the 10 p.m. newscast.