Honolulu Advertiser

From Academic Kids

Honolulu Advertiser logo

The Honolulu Advertiser is the largest newspaper in the U.S. state of Hawai‘i and one of the largest newspapers in the United States. It publishes daily with special Sunday and Internet editions. Owned by Gannett Pacific Corporation since 1992, the Honolulu Advertiser is the parent publisher of Island Weekly, Navy News, Army Weekly, Ka Nupepa, West Oahu Current, and Leeward Current, small, community-based newspapers.


Henry M. Whitney

Businessman and son of Congregational missionaries, Henry M. Whitney founded the Pacific Commercial Advertiser in 1856, a weekly newspaper that was circulated primarily in the whaling port of Honolulu. The inaugural edition was published on July 2 of that year with this statement from Whitney:

Thank Heaven, the day at length has dawned when the Hawaiian nation can boast a free press, untrammeled by government patronage or party pledges, unbiased by ministerial frowns or favors.

The biggest story in the first edition was a report on the wedding of Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. However, the front page was devoted almost exclusively to advertisements. Throughout the paper, Whitney posted fifty-two advertisements for sailing ships in port at Honolulu Harbor with three hundred vessel timetables. In 1870, Whitney went broke and was forced to sell the Commercial Advertiser to James Black and William Auld, local printers. Whitney stayed on as the newspaper's editor.

Missing image
The first special edition newspaper of the attacks on September 11, 2001, to be archived at the Library of Congress was that of the Honolulu Advertiser.

Claus Spreckles

In 1880, Black and Auld sold the Pacific Commercial Advertiser to Claus Spreckles. Vehemently opposed to Spreckles' conservative pro-monarchy political stance, Whitney the devout annexationist resigned as editor. Wallace Rider Farrington, future Governor of the Territory of Hawaii, arrived from Maine to become the new editor. Spreckles' royalist slant in his editorial articles were deplored by most American businessmen then residing in Hawai‘i. Revenue at the newspaper suffered as a result, forcing Spreckles to eventually sell the Pacific Commercial Advertiser.

Lorrin A. Thurston and Son

In 1888, Spreckles sold his newspaper to the Hawaiian Gazette Company. It in turn sold the newspaper in 1895 to Lorrin A. Thurston, a cabinet minister in the administration of David Kalakaua. Thurston would later become the architect of the overthrow of the monarchy and end the existence of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. Thurston was the author of the infamous Bayonet Constitution of 1887, which he, backed by an armed militia, forced King Kalakaua to sign. The constitution stripped the monarchy of all authority, took away many rights of native Hawaiians to vote in elections, and granted voting rights to American residents who did not have citizenship in the kingdom.

In 1921, Thurston changed the name of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser to become the Honolulu Advertiser. The following year, Thurston hired Raymond S. Coll to be the newspaper editor. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1959.

In 1931, Lorrin P. Thurston took over from his father as editor and president of the Honolulu Advertiser. He would later become chairman of the Hawaii Statehood Commission. Upon the retirement of Raymond Coll, Thurston hired George Chaplin, former editor of the military newspaper, Pacific Stars and Stripes, to become editor of the Honolulu Advertiser. He would serve in this capacity for 28 years.

Thurston Twigg-Smith and George Chaplin

In 1961, Thurston Twigg-Smith continued family ownership as he inherited the Honolulu Advertiser from his uncle. He remained publisher and president until 1986. With the coupling of Chaplin and Twigg-Smith, the Honolulu Advertiser shifted its political slant from a staunchly conservative pro-Big Five newspaper to become a more moderate, racially progressive newspaper. Both were enormously influenced by the rising local Chinese American, Filipino American and Japanese American readership and worked to cater to these communities' news interests. In 1967, Twigg-Smith formed the Persis Corporation (known as Asa Hawaii Corporation until 1978) as the Advertiser's parent company.

Gannett Pacific Corporation

In June 2004, the Honolulu Advertiser opened its multi-million dollar printing facility in Kapolei, a West Oahu suburb of Honolulu.
In June 2004, the Honolulu Advertiser opened its multi-million dollar printing facility in Kapolei, a West Oahu suburb of Honolulu.

In 1992, the Honolulu Advertiser was purchased by the Gannett Pacific Corporation, a subsidiary of Gannet Company Incorporated. It became Gannett's first morning edition publication in its corporate history. The company had already owned the other major newspaper Honolulu Star-Bulletin since 1973. From 1962 to 2001, both dueling newspapers were administered under a joint operating agreement under which they shared printing and advertising operations but kept separate editorial staff and printing functions. The agreement ended when the Honolulu Star-Bulletin was sold to a separate company.

Advertiser Building

The Honolulu Advertiser staff occupies the Advertiser Building on 605 Kapiolani Boulevard in downtown Honolulu. Built in 1929 by the architectural firm Emory & Webb in the beaux arts style, the Advertiser Building is a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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