SPJ Newsletter Fall 2004

Gridiron SHOW 2004: CANCELLED

By Garett Kamemoto

On a weekday evening in September, more than a dozen cast members of the Gridiron show met in an emergency session to make one of the most difficult decisions: whether to stage the show for 2004.

Tickets were already on sale and were going briskly.

For several weeks already, the show had been hit by defections among certain cast members, who had various criticisms about the perceived quality of the show.

The cast members who met, however, were not interested in pinning much blame. Instead, they were consumed by one question: Should the show go on? Many parts of the show would have to be recast with new people playing the new roles. Skits would have to be developed to give the smaller cast a break between numbers.

The SPJ Hawaii board had been scrambling to find people to fill some of the major roles. Nanilisa Pascua had volunteered to teach the vocals, despite a hectic schedule. A new music director had been found and had just hired a band for the show, less than 24 hours after a former music director abruptly quit.

Therefore, the answer to the question was "yes." The show would go on.

After all, the show wasn’t about the performers, or their needs. It was for summer internships. Dozens of Hawaii journalists had gotten their feet in the door through SPJ internships. The show was every journalist’s chance to give back to the industry. It was the right thing to do.

Cast members realized there was a little more than a month to finish the daunting task. Some were ready to cut back their work hours for increased rehearsals. And everyone was willing to give 110 percent. Even family members had volunteered to work, instead of being in the audience.

But then, reality set in. Even with a determined cast that wasn’t about to say die, the fact was, Gridiron needed more bodies to cast all the roles. And some of the infrastructure still wasn’t in place.

The meeting lasted until almost midnight and was heart-wrenching. But in the end, the decision not to proceed was one of the most difficult ones to make. It was, however, the right thing to do.

The cost of Gridiron’s cancellation is in the thousands of dollars. We are thankful that some of our sponsors did not demand money for services rendered.

To the cast who pulled together -- rather than pull apart, all SPJ can say is, "Thank You." It was an honor and a privilege to work with you. You remind us of what really is important: to honor those who gave us the chance to get our foot in the door, by helping the next generation of journalists crack open that door.

Thank you to the professionals who came to our aid.

And to future journalists who would have received internships from the Gridiron show, hang in there.

SPJ will find a way to make sure the door opens for you.

What follows is a list of cast members, who were committed to continue, despite the odds. But don’t read too much into the list: there is some natural turnover each year, as people change jobs and aren’t able to participate. Others leave, when their lives intrude upon our reality. Also not included are those who fill emcee roles, or whose participation is traditionally limited to a couple of songs of skits.

The Cast:

• BJ Reyes, The Associated Press

• Catherine Toth and Gordon Pang, the

Honolulu Advertiser

• Craig T. Kojima and Diana Leone,

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

• Prabha Natarajan, Pacific Business News

• Cathy S. Cruz, PacificBasin

Communications/Downtown Planet

• Louise Kim McCoy, KGMB-9

• Tina Shelton and Jessica Stowell, KHON-2

• Anna Gomes, KITV-4

• Kristie Guilotte, KHNL-4

• Justin Cruz, 93.1 KQMQ

• Emily Viglielmo, Pacific Media Publishing

• Cathy Foy, Ringer

• Suzanne Sasaki, Hawaii No Arukikata, Japanese/English free-lancer



This past summer, 14 college students were interns in print, broadcast and public relations companies. Here

is what some of them had to say about their experiences ...



Shelly Awaya, Hawaii Pacific University, Hawaii Public Radio

“ I’m very thankful for participating in the SPJ-Hawaii 2004 Summer Internship Program. At HPR, I gained hands-on experience in the field interviewing and reporting, and learned how to use recording and editing equipment. I also networked with journalism professionals, both at HPR and out on assignment. I was very apprehensive prior to starting the internship. Since I had no radio experience, I expected to make lots of mistakes. However, the feedback I received was positive, and my writing abilities improved as the internship progressed.

"Gaining real-world journalism experience made me realize this is definitely the career for me, once I graduate in the spring. I also learned that my sales experience helped me acclimate quicker to the fast pace of radio, and I communicated well with co-workers and interviewees since I interact with customers on a regular basis. I’m extremely grateful that the internship committee seletecd me as one of this summer’s interns. I gained a lot from this experience, and I’m looking forward to entering the journalism profession.”

Laurie Kawakami, U of Southern California, Hawaiii Business

“The internship was a great experience. I was assigned to write a story on my first day, and I was surprised and impressed with the level of trust given to me to complete the story. My editor, Kelli, guide me along the way, and by month’s end, I had written two profiles for the largest issue, the Top 250. I sat in meetings and gained a greater understanding of how monthly magazines are run and how they differ from dailies.

"At first, it was difficult for me to be relegated to being an intern again, since I already graduated from college and had been working in Los Angeles for several years. But sometimes, you need to take a step back to move forward, and I strongly believe this internship helped to put me back on the right track. It laid a foundation for me to build my writing and reporting skills. It was nice to get published again and add new clips to my file. It is a great program for young, budding journalists to get real, hands-on experience, and I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to participate.”

Christine Cabalo, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Downtown Planet

“Though technical training may help in developing important skills, it is no substitute for the sights and sounds of working in a professional newsroom. Nowhere else can aspiring local journalists see the real and deep connection all news organizations have to the public. Before taking this internship, I never realized just how much of a positive impact reporters could have in the Hawaii community.

"Without this experience as an intern, I don’t think I would have truly appreciated those responsibilities. The Gridiron has give me the marvelous opportunity to practice my craft. I will forever be thankful to SPJ for my time at the Downtown Planet. I have become a better reporter and continue to hope to serve my profession as well as those who have come before me. I am reaffirmed of my mission as a journalist: strive for accuracy and thoughtfulness throughout all of my work.”

Sherie Lynn Char, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu Magazine

"Being selected as one of 14 interns for SPJ s 2004 Summer Internship Program was a wish come true. This opportunity allowed me to experience working full-time at Honolulu Magazine, a well-known and respected magazine I read at the dentist s office as a kid. Working 40 hours as week was quite a change from being a full-time college student. I was not out in the real world, where I was no loner turning in articles for a letter grade. I was turning in articles that would be included in a monthly magazine.

"Another difference? Only A papers were accepted here. It wasn t the same as class essays, settling for any grade I wanted or choosing not to turn in the essay at all. Not turning in an article would be detrimental to the whole issue, because there would be a blank page in the magazine.I ve met a lot of people while learning about the culture, fashion and upcoming events. I also worked on projects featuring the Best Doctors in Hawaii and the Private School Guide. Most interns don t have a lot of responsibility, so I was surprised and excited to work on the bigger editorial projects."

Noel N. Pietsch, University of Southern California, KITV-4

“Participating in SPJ’s Summer Internship Program the summer after I graduated from the University of Southern California was an extremely valuable opportunity. After holding several internships in Los Angeles, I was curious about the television news industry back home in Hawaii.

"Undecided about what I wanted to do next and where I wanted to live, the program gave me a chance to gain experience, while beginning to understand the way the television news business works in Hawaii. At KITV, my duties were spread across the board. I assisted producers, wrote scripts, researched stories, fielded interviews and was able to go with the cameraman and cover stories of my own. Although a journalism degree provides you with sufficient training, nothing is as effective as the real-world experience of working under deadline. The internship also gave me the opportunity to network. While building relationships with people throughout the industry, I gathered invaluable advice. Now, more than ever, I am interested in eventually pursuing a journalism career in Hawaii.”

Amber Ladera, Stanford University, Alexander & Baldwin Inc.

“As I pulled back the heavy door and breathed in the office air of my work environment, a childish smile of nervousness spread across my face. Anticipation and anxiousness were high, but from my first day at the office, I was welcomed openly and fully immersed in the office culture of Alexander & Baldwin Inc.

"I was lucky to have a lot of variety and flexibility in my job assignments. While most of my time focused with Alexander & Baldwin Foundation, the charitable giving arm of A&B Inc., I got to work with almost all of A&B’s subsidiaries as I drafted press releases and prepared for events. A&B’s diversity allowed me to realize my own diverse interests and strengths. One of my favorite aspects of the internship was the independence I was allowed to have. I was given my own office, which really added to the sense of responsibility that was bestowed upon me. I would often juggle five or six assignments at a time, a task that challenged me to be organized and aware of deadlines. I was lucky to have supervisors that opened my eyes to strategic thinking and formal communication skills that are imperative to career success. The internship was an invaluable experience that will stick with me throughout my academic, vocational and work-related endeavors.”

Andrew Pontti, Syracuse University, Bright Light Marketing Group

“The opportunity to work with a smaller company gave me invaluable, hands-on experience that I know friends of mine did not get, working in larger PR agencies on the Mainland. A lot of my work got picked up by the media, which was very exciting, and some of my publicity efforts showed up as front-page stories in The Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin. I’m very happy to have had these opportunities, which I can include in my portfolio.”

Clynton Namuo, Boston University, Pacific Business News

“The first thing I discovered while working at PBN was that arguing with the editor in the middle of the newsroom for 30 minutes over one graph of my story didn’t turn out nearly as bad as I thought it would, especially seeing as how Jim Kelly had arrived at the paper just two days earlier. In fact, arguing with him made me feel more a part of the news team than anything else could have. I was constantly amazed at the amount of freedom I was given at PBN to pursue stories that interested me, and never once did I feel like just an intern. It’s an experience I will never forget, and I learned more about journalism and managing a newsroom in those three months, than I did in two years at college. I’ll never forget it.”


FCC hit with criticism about media ownership concentration

By Stirling Morita

Democratic members of the Federal Communications Commission have warned the public and the commission about growing consolidation of broadcast stations by corporations.

But the Republican majority, headed by Chairman Michael Powell, hasn’t responded since it passed rules relaxing restrictions on media ownership last year that were later overturned.

Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein received applause from a crowd, estimated to be between 300 and 500, at an FCC hearing July 21 in Monterey, Calif.

They urged commission action to reverse the FCC actions, making it easier for a company to own two competing television stations in a market.

In a July 19 speech to the Public Interest, Public Airwaves Coalition, Copps said: "We’re all gathered here today, because we share deep concern about what has happened to our media. Concern about the too-powerful role of a few huge media conglomerates that increasingly control both the content and the distribution of the entertainment, information and news that we get. Concern that this narrowing control is homogenizing our entertainment and dramatically diminishing our democratic dialogue. Concern that the Big Media is not fulfilling its role or pulling its weight in our society."

In June, a federal appeals court overturned changes passed by the FCC that would have relaxed the rules governing media ownership concentration – such as allowing a company to own two of the top four stations in a large market.

Copps said: "And just last month, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC’s media concentration plan was legally and procedurally flawed. So, we have now heard from the court, the Congress and the American people that the FCC got it wrong when it tried to unleash even more consolidation. It is clear that we need to start over these rules and this time, make it our goal to protect the people’s interest in the people’s airwaves.

Officials have said about two million faxes, letters and e-mails have been sent to the FCC opposing relaxation of the media-ownership rules.

For more than four years, Emmis Communications Corp. has operated KGMB and KHON stations under a temporary waiver of the FCC rules.

U.S. Rep. Ed Case (D-rural Oahu, Neighbor Islands) has said the No. 1 issue since he took office has been changes to the media-ownership rules.

Sean McLaughlin, representing the Hawaii Localism Coalition, which includes Akaku: Maui Community Television and Hawaii Chapter SPJ, was among panelists at the Monterey hearing, giving testimony.

"To maximize profits, commercial media minimize local programming. With distant owners controlling management decisions, local commercial media increasingly become victims to the corrosive impacts of the profit-making imperative. The needs and interests of distinct local communities, especially lower-income people and minority groups who lack buying power, are ignored or misrepresented as a result," McLaughlin said.

"The increased consolidation of media ownership exacerbates these problems," he said.

At the hearing, survey results were released (by the Newspaper Guild, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians and the Writers Guild America) stating that almost 80 percent of journalists say journalism standards have declined as the media industry has consolidated in recent years. Too much attention is being paid to the bottom line, according to the survey.

The survey found that 69 percent of the 400 journalists respondents said corporate owners were exerting too much influence over news coverage. It said 73 percent felt understaffing was threatening the quality of news reporting. Also, the survey said, 62 percent said entertainment coverage was growing at the expense of hard news.


By Emily Viglielmo

First of all, I want to thank the members of SPJ and the Board for supporting me financially and giving me the opportunity to go to New York City to attend the SPJ National Convention from Sept. 9-11.

I was able to attend several fascinating workshops and panel discussions.

One of the panel speakers who appeared at the “Covering America” workshop was Abderrahim Foukara, the New York correspondent for the Al-Jazeera Arabic TV network. Of course, he was asked about the network’s decision to broadcast the beheadings of hostages captured in Iraq by terrorists. I thought this was unfair, because as a foreign correspondent for the network, he had no part in the decision to broadcast the beheadings. Also the question seemed hypocritical, as this was shortly after American TV stations seemed to have no problem broadcasting footage of bloody bodies of Russian children and teachers being dragged from their school in Besla, Russia that had also been attacked by terrorists.

“Getting the Bias Out” was a good discussion of how to more fairly and accurately cover people of color. My only problem with the session was that the focus was more on coverage of African-Americans and Latinos than on Asian-Americans. Such is usually the case with Mainland discussions of diversity — it’s simply an issue of demographics.Incidentally, the moderator for “Getting the Bias Out” was Sally Lehrman, a freelance journalist from San Francisco who has worked tirelessly to create the “Rainbow Source Book,” a guide for journalists to find people to comment on issues affecting minorities. (Go to www.spj.org/rainbowsourcebook.)

Lehrman also was elected as a director-at-large during the national convention. She won a contested race with Frank Ucciardo of New York.

Another person from our region who was elected to a national SPJ office was Sonya Smith of the Cal State Long Beach SPJ chapter. She was elected as a national student representative.

Irwin Gratz, who is with National Public Radio in Maine, was installed as the new SPJ president.

The highlight of the convention was the rousing keynote speech by Bill Moyers of PBS. He gave a searing attack on the Bush administration’s attempt to stifle freedom of information. Moyers said other presidents have tried to keep information from the media, “but never has there been an administration like the one in power today – so disciplined in secrecy, so precisely in lockstep in keeping information from the people at large and, in defiance of the Constitution, from their representatives in Congress. The litany is long: The President’s chief of staff orders a review that leads to at least 6,000 documents being pulled from government Web sites. The Defense Department bans photos of military caskets being returned to the U.S. To hide the influence of Kenneth Lay, Enron, and other energy moguls the Vice President stonewalls his energy task force records with the help of his duck-hunting pal on the Supreme Court. The CIA adds a new question to its standard employer polygraph exam asking, ‘Do you have friends in the media?’”

Moyers also lamented how more and more small newpapers are being eaten up by huge media conglomerates such as Gannett.

“In New Jersey,” Moyers said, “the Gannett chain bought the Asbury Park Press, then sent in a publisher who slashed 55 people from the staff and cut the space for news, and who was by being named Gannett’s Manager of the Year … it won’t be long now before America is reduced to half a dozen major print conglomerates.”

Moyers also reminded us why we stay in this business.

People may think journalism doesn’t matter anymore, but Moyers said, “Francisco Ortiz Franco thought it mattered. The crusading reporter co-founded a weekly magazine in Tijuana whose motto is ‘Free like the Wind.’ He was relentless in exposing the incestuous connections between wealthy elites in Baja, Calif., and its most corrupt law enforcement agencies and with the most violent of drag cartels. Several months ago, Francisco Ortiz Franco died sitting at the wheel of his car outside a local clinic — shot four times while his two children, aged 8 and l0, looked on from the back seat. As his blood was being hosed off the pavement, more than l00 of his fellow Mexican reporters and editors marched quietly through the streets, holding their pens defiantly high in the air. They believe journalism matters.”

You can find the entire text of Moyers’ speech at www.spj.org


REMINDER: Annual SPJ Hawaii

General Membership Meeting

(We will nominate board members and executives for 2005-2006)

WHEN : Friday, Oct. 22, 2004, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: 801 S. King St., One Archer Lane, 9th floor pool deck

FOR MORE INFORMATION: gkamemoto@yahoo.com


Hawaii Chapter, SPJ

P.O. Box 3141

Honolulu, HI 96802