John Black


By Craig DeSilva

Chapter Director

There are those who spend a lifetime career paving the way in the name of journalism whose work often goes unnoticed. One of those people who we honor is John Black.

He may not be a famous face on the 6 o’clock news, or recognizable voice on the radio or have a notable byline. But John Black’s contribution to the field of journalism is just as significant, if not more so.

John first became involved with SPJ’s Internship Program 20 years ago when Trade Publishing became a sponsor. John later served on the SPJ board of directors in 1989 as secretary, and was asked to chair the Internship program. There was a time when John was running the program by himself, coordinating sponsors, and student applicants attending school in Hawaii and on the Mainland.

When I asked John why he first got involved with the Internship program, he said because then SPJ President Diane Chang was a good arm twister. Anyone who knows Diane Chang knows how convincing she can be. But it didn’t take much convincing to have John continue heading the program just up until last year, even though he was no longer on the SPJ board.

John has helped pave the way for many young journalists to get their first start in the business. He worked closely with each of the sponsors handling the business end of the program. He worked closely with the students to make sure their application process went smoothly. He made sure SPJ was able to attract the most qualified interns, testing and interviewing them to make sure each news and public relations organizations got the intern they wanted. And he fought hard with board members to have the maximum number of interns every year.

Of course this was not John’s full-time job, although he dedicated himself to the program as if it was. For 16 years, John has worked for Trade Publishing Company. He started as a reporter and worked his way up to the ranks of editor. He was involved in almost every aspect of the company and its many trade publications, including editorial, advertising and also getting involved in the business end. He was first hired in 1980, starting as a reporter and eventually worked his way up as editor. I say first because John later left Trade, then came back, then left again, then came back, and then left again.

John first left Trade in the late 1980s to work in Los Angeles. He left again in the late 1980s to run his own publishing company, Rainbow Pacific – which he named after his wife, Rainbow Lu.

Trade’s Publisher Carl Hebenstreit, who’s better known as Kini Popo, has known John for many years. He’s still trying to figure out why you keep leaving. But he says if you ever decide to return, Trade will always have a seat open for you.

It’s no wonder why Trade keeps hiring John back. Those who know John describe him as consistent, reliable and modest. And who wouldn’t want someone of that caliber leading the charge. John has worked hard to put out each issue of Trade’s many publications, including Building Industry, Hawaii Hospitality, Hawaii Food and Beverage Industry, and countless other publications serving Hawaii’s important construction, tourism and restaurant industries. These publications may not be as well known as the Advertiser or Star-Bulletin, yet they would often scoop both dailies and business publications on many big stories affecting these industries. His bylines may not have been the most notable or his face may not be as recognizable as someone on the evening news. But John Black’s contributions to journalism and his leadership in helping foster young journalists through the SPJ internship program have been far reaching. And that’s why, John, if you ever decide to rejoin SPJ’s board, there will always be a seat open for you.

On behalf of the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter, please join me in congratulating John Black and inducting him into the SPJ-Hawaii Hall of Fame for his many contributions to Hawaii journalism.


Hall of Fame