From The Publisher

Ron Nagasawa
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Wednesday - July 22, 2009
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I was there. Yes, when the first issue of MidWeek dated July 18, 1984, came rolling off the press, I was there. I had just been hired in May of that year as a commercial printing sales assistant. Because I had no experience or education in the publishing business, my boss, Neil Nakamura, who today is still our director of commercial services, had me work in all areas of the company.

I worked in the composing department, the camera department, the inserting department and I even worked on the press. When computers replaced typewriters, I worked with Alan Stewart, our current and only IT manager. Those experiences proved to be invaluable. From the dirtiest job (yes, I cleaned toilets) to becoming the publisher of Hawaii’s best-read newspaper, this has been an incredible journey. The best thing about it is all the people I’ve met and worked with along the way.

There are too many people to acknowledge in this small space - 25 years’ worth. But I would be remiss without mentioning a few. Let me start with owner David Black. He had a vision of preserving two editorial voices in this town, and by combining the strengths of MidWeek and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin created a company that could compete toe-to-toe with global newspaper behemoth Gannett. Five years ago he also brought in Dennis Francis as our president and publisher.


Dennis, free of the corporate restraints of where he came, is navigating our company through the most trying times for newspaper media. His innovation and drive has resulted in our newspapers bucking the national trend - we have grown in read-ership and have sustained advertising and circulation. There has been no journalistic compromise either, as shown by all the awards garnered by the Star-Bulletin and MidWeek during his tenure.

Now I want to talk about our MidWeek family. Most people are surprised to hear that we put out MidWeek, our four community newspapers (MidWeek Islander) and our military newspaper, the Military Star News (MSN) with a staff of 14. That’s right, only 14.

They are editor-in-chief Don Chapman, senior editor Terri Hefner, managing editor Yu Shing Makinano, regional editor Carol Chang, chief photographer Nathalie Walker, art director Gina Lambert, senior photographer Byron Lee, business editor Linda Dela Cruz, MSN editor Steve Murray, calendar editor Kerry Miller, associate editor Melissa Moniz, staff writer Alana Folen, regional associate editor Sarah Pacheco and photographer Leah Ball.

I credit Don with turning MidWeek from a shopper into a credible, meaningful newspaper. His passion is tried and true. He is the newspaperman I strive to be. Terri is the heart, conscience and mother of MidWeek.Yu Shing is the intelligent, young, vibrant face of MidWeek. Carol is our workhorse and the best community news journalist anywhere. Nathalie can capture personality with her camera like no other. Gina is a gifted artist and graphic visionary. Byron can take action shots rivaled only by Sports Illustrated. Linda launched the start of many island businesses. Steve serves our military audience and is also our in-house sports expert. Kerry keeps track of the entire island and will do a story at the drop of a hat. Melissa is our go-to person for nearly everything, definitely publisher material. Alana, a talented singer, is our connection to the theater and vocal arts. Sarah is a go-getter and will get the story at all costs. Leah is our Annie Leibovitz.

These encapsulated descriptions don’t really do them justice, but they each know how I feel about them. They are the best. As are all the people involved with MidWeek from all our production and circulation people, our sales, marketing and accounting staff to the U.S. Postal Service that delivers it without fail each and every week of the year.

There are the diverse contributions from our columnists and freelance writers. No one else in the state has this mix of unique writing talent, and I am humbled to have them all in MidWeek.

While there are so many memorable moments in my life with MidWeek, this one is heartfelt and represents so much. One day in January of 2006, while going through the hundreds of e-mails I receive each day, one stood out. It was from the father of a National Guardsman who was serving in one of the hellholes of Iraq - Kirkuk. He was a military man himself, and explained that his local-boy son and other soldiers hailing from Oahu wanted him to send them an occasional copy of MidWeek so that they could read about what was going on in the island. Being so far away, they wanted to read about and see photos of family, friends and just familiar good news stories MidWeek is known for.

It suddenly became my No. 1 priority to get copies of MidWeek out to them every week. They received them, and it was immediately acknowledged in an e-mail from Gerald Orosco, the son of the man who originally contacted me. The soldiers were elated to get the copies. We had expanded our print circulation and readership to the other side of the world.

About a year later, I was at a shopping mall with my family when a man approached me. He was the brother of Orosco. He told me to wait and came back with their mother. She was nearly in tears and thanked me for doing what I did, that I gave her son and the other soldiers “a piece of home.” They explained that Gerald had come back safely and was stationed on the Mainland.

I was elated that he made it back, as there were too many others who did not. I told Gerald’s mother and brother that the thanks really goes to their family for the sacrifices they made indirectly for mine. And so it goes, and this story was the perfect transition to my close.

My final acknowledgements first go to our advertisers. They are the ones who made it possible for you to receive MidWeek absolutely free these past 25 years. They also have saved you thousands of dollars and have provided employment for thousands of island residents.

Finally, I have to thank you, the MidWeek reader. You provide the material of which we write and photograph. It shows that regular people can be heroes, that good news is pertinent, and controversy is acceptable if balanced. We look forward to being your newspaper, whatever form it takes, for the next 25 years.

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