Three Sundays. Three lead stories in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser based on numbers. Three times the figures are misused and don’t add up. Once, OK. Twice, a concern. Three times, I’d say that’s a problem.

The perception I come away with is that the paper is trying to make a splash every Sunday. Look at this, it shouts. Can you believe how bad this is? But when you look closely, its front-page headlines aren’t supported by the numbers.

Here are the lead headlines from the Star-Advertiser on its first three Sundays:

“Fresh Costs” “ON OAHU, CRIME UP” (Yes, the headline across the entire width of the front page was in all capital letters.) “Diploma distress”

So let’s take a look at whether the headlines delivered what they promised.

Sunday, June 13: My article about the first Sunday story, The Weekend Editions Of The New Honolulu Star-Advertiser , explained that “Fresh Costs” referred to the fact that fruit and vegetable distributors in Hawaii are paying about $300 a week in unexpected expenses to bring in inspectors on overtime. The piece claimed that was an important factor in driving up our grocery costs. If you do the math, the extra costs over the six months the article covered were $7,800. That gets spread over a population of 1.3 million people, plus nearly a couple of hundred thousand tourists, and tens of millions of pounds of fruit and vegetables. Looked at that way, the number just isn’t material.

Conclusion about the first Sunday: All heat, no light.

Sunday, June 20: “ON OAHU, CRIME UP” screamed the front-page headline. The secondary headline said, “Major offenses rise islandwide, prompting neighbors to unite in community watches and patrols.” So did the story ever tell us what a major crime was? No. At…

Loading Numbers Don’t Add Up at New Star-Advertiser

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