I’ve been there, inside a newspaper when it published its final edition.

I was the editor and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, Colorado’s oldest newspaper, when it said “Goodbye” on Feb. 27, 2009.

So Sunday, June 6, 2010, when The Honolulu Advertiser said “Aloha and mahalo,” brought back a lot of memories.

I want to share a few reflections on the last days and final editions of the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin, which on Monday will publish in a broadsheet format as the Star-Advertiser.

Conventional wisdom not always right

When I arrived in Honolulu in January and began meeting people here, it was obvious that the conventional wisdom was that it was only a matter of time before the Star-Bulletin would fold. The only question was how soon. Journalists at the Star-Bulletin seemed uneasy. Their counterparts at the Advertiser seemed to think they were in the catbird seat. How wrong conventional wisdom can be?

Advertiser had two strikes against it

Two stories about the newspapers kept coming up when I talked to journalists and to people in the community, and both were negative for the Advertiser and positive for the Star-Bulletin.

One was World War II and the way the Advertiser had used the epithet “Japs” in its headlines and articles while the Star-Bulletin never went down that road, even though it was the only Honolulu paper to publish the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. That single difference said a lot about the two titles in many people’s minds.

The other was the “Broken Trust,” the earth-shattering essay that exposed corruption among the trustees of the Bishop Estate and in the state’s power structure. Advertiser executives had had the chance to publish it first, but had dithered so long that courageous editors at the …

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