Star-Bulletin managers started interviewing Advertiser employees Tuesday. He said the interviews will continue for the next two weeks or so, as Star-Bulletin executives decide which Advertiser employees to retain.
Those who are hired at the new paper may continue working from the old Advertiser building at 605 Kapiolani Boulevard for a couple of months. He said that will give the new paper time to make "significant modifications" to the Star Bulletin's Waterfront Tower offices, to make room for more employees.
Francis said 17 Star-Bulletin newsroom staffers laid off in March of last year have been offered their old jobs back, and about half of them have accepted the offers so far. Because the paper is expanding within 18 months of the layoffs, the paper?s union agreement requires those who lost their jobs to be the first to be rehired.
The Star-Bulletin?s newsroom is housed on the second floor one of the Waterfront Tower offices, and the administrative, sales and marketing offices are on the fifth floor of the same building. Francis said Oahu Publications has a five-year lease for additional space on the fifth floor with a five-year extension possible.
Francis said the subscription price of the new paper will be the same as the Advertiser -- roughly double the Star-Bulletin's rate of around $100 a year.
He said all subscriptions will be honored, even if they're at the lower Star-Bulletin rates. "They took out a subscription at a certain rate, expecting a certain amount of months of delivery and I think for that to be shortened or changed in any way is not fair or reasonable, and that's why we're not doing it," he said.
He also said the new paper will have an expanded comics section, with some comics added from The Advertiser. ?The readers will be pleasantly surprised because we?re actually increasing the comics, as far as the number. We?re still arguing over which ones,? he said.
He said administrative staff are working seven days a week to merge the two newspapers? computerized publishing and distribution systems. "The Honolulu Advertiser has system A and we have system B so to get them to talk to each other to merge the information and data is pretty challenging," Francis said.
?There?s a lot of tradition here. It?s a lot of history. So we want to make sure that we do it right and do it well,? he said.
The Advertiser, one of Gannett?s larger newspapers with a daily circulation of about 130,000, was founded in 1856 and purchased by Gannett in 1993.