This year, local journalists worked hard and fast to judge the San Diego and Micronesia chapters' contests. Many thanks for the following judges: SAN DIEGO: PRINT: Diane Chang, George Steele, Stephanie Kendrick, Cynthia Oi, Lucy Young-Oda, Mike Rovner, George Lee, Dennis Oda and Stirling Morita. TV: Daryl Huff, Keoki Kerr, Pamela Young, Jim Dooley, Bob Guanzon, Rex VonArnswaldt, Duncan Armstrong, Darren Pai, Daniel Arakaki, Glenn Wakai, John Gordon, Glenn Holcomb, Don Kozono, Beau Cuizon, Bob Loy, Jim Lemon, Mahealani Richardson, Andrew Nunes, Sharene Saito Tam, Russell Shimooka, Kim Murakawa, Donalyn Dela Cruz, Nelson Daranciang RADIO: Craig DeSilva. MICRONESIA: PRINT: Christie Wilson, Harry Eagar, Roy Tanaka, Lee Imada, Eugene Tanner and Matthew Thayer.
Gov. Ben Cayetano acknowledges he's outspoken and sometimes "lets it all hang out."
That's why he's told that he is his own worst press secretary.
At a brown bag meeting with SPJ and media members, Cayetano said he was joking when he was referring to getting publicity operations like Harris and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have.
But he notes there are times he feels he hasn't been fairly treated by the news media.
"For posterity," it's important to get facts out, Cayetano said. But he acknowledges that the news media may have a "purpose different than what we want."
The last time SPJ members met with the govenor, he criticized coverage by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. But he says that since the election, "the dailies have been a little more objective."
Cayetano said "I don't know of a single governor who is enamoured" of the news media.
In reference to the threatened closure of the Star-Bulletin last year, the governor said he made an emotional response when he said he didn't care if Honolulu became a one-newspaper town.
"That comment came from the heart, not the brain," the governor said.
His attorney general has sued to block the closure of the Star-Bulletin, and it is being offered for sale as part of a proposed settlement.
He said he realized that the state had to do something after meeting with Mike Fisch, Hawaii Newspaper Agency chairman and Honolulu Advertiser publisher. Cayetano said he realized that the state "had to make Gannett (Co.) obeyed the law."
When the governor retires in 2002, he wants to take six months off.
He said he had bought a 1937 saxophone from jazz musician Gabe Balthazar a long time ago and wanted to learn how to play it.
Cayetano has ruled out going back into politics or law.
Noting his outspoken political style, the govenror said he learned a lot from the movie, "The Candidate," in which Robert Redford is morphed into another person by politics. He said he told himself: "I don't want to be morphed into something I'm not."
Senate Majority Leader Les Ihara Jr. thinks there will be more votes this year by legislative conference committees during sessions open to the public. Ihara noted that the Senate Judiciary Committee already is doing this. House Majority Leader Ed Case says the key is to get the budget votes in public since so many money bills rely on these negotiations. The two legislative leaders have been working to keep conference committee decisions open to the public. The attorney general's office recently released an opinion backing up a 1991 opinion by the House majority attorney: Votes by quorums of both sides of conference committees should be open. When someone reads the constitutional provision requiring open decision-making by legislative committees, "I don't think you can come to any other conclusion," said Jon Van Dyke, constitutional law expert at the University of Hawaii law school. He said he thought a Republican Party lawsuit to require open votes in conference committees would fail because the courts generally shy away from telling another branch of the government how to operate. Case said the problem is the constitutional provision doesn't specifically say "votes in public." So this leaves it open to different interpretations. The 1991 opinion is an offshoot of efforts of 11 representatives, elected in 1990, asking the Democratic caucus for reforms, Ihara said. In 1990, they asked the late Daniel Kihano for open voting in committees, and then-Majority Leader Tom Okamura sought the opinion. When Ihara and seven other representatives moved to the Senate in 1994, he sought similar reforms there. He said he gave "a lot of credit" to Senate President Norman Mizuguchi for major changes. Case said they have been looking for options such as lengthening the amount of time for conference committees to give lawmakers more time to deliberate issues. Already this year Ihara and Case agreed to extend the period of conference committees by two days. Case said the short amount of time puts pressure on conferees. Also, the way the negotiations are handled lends itself to last-minute brinksmanship. Case said this is the way he'd like to see all conference committee action: 1) Conferees discuss and narrow issues to areas of disagreement 2) Craft a conference draft 3) Exchange it across the table and vote on it in public.
It's not enough these days just to be accurate in news stories - to keep away from lawsuits. You could wind up in a courtroom because of the way you went about getting a story, media attorney Jeff Portnoy says. More and more cases are being filed as what he calls "access torts." Portnoy told 30 people at the annual installation dinner of the Hawaii chapter-SPJ Feb. 25 at Alan T's that this has been a recent trend in media cases. He pointed to the Food Lion case where reporters found out about questionable sanitary practices by becoming employees through improperly filled out job applications. Then, he said, there was the case of a reporter tape-recording candid conversations in the office of a psychic hot line. If the reporter had done the story from what he heard, it would have been OK, Portnoy said. One woman in California sued when a video crew was allowed to film while in the medical evacuation helicopter as paramedics worked to save her life after a traffic accident. Courts are getting a lot more of these cases where a person says he or she had an expectation of privacy, Portnoy said. Hawaii has been spared such cases, but Portnoy warns: They are coming. A radio station has been sued by a police officer who was identified during a call-in show about an adopted daughter looking for her real father, he said. Is the officer entitled to keep such matters private? he asked. The lawsuit is a first of its kind in Hawaii. Gannett Co. has set up a policy on what you can and cannot do in pursuing a story. The company paid $10 million to settle a claim on the Cincinnati Enquirer's Chiquita banana story. In that case, voice mail and emails reportedly were taken to provide a basis for the story.
Things haven't gone well lately for freedom of information in Hawaii. That's according to media attorney Jeff Portnoy. The Office of Information Practices' lack of action is forcing the media to go to court to resolve public records information. The Tourism Authority is made up of businessmen who tend to think the public's business should be private. The courts have forced reporters to pay hefty copying fees for Supreme Court documents they used to get for free. Portnoy blames Gov. Ben Cayetano and former Attorney General Margery Bronster, who came out against a lot of access issues, for lack of direction to open government to the public. Portnoy said that when he gave a speech criticizing the Office of Information Practices, he received a call from Cayetano chewing him out. He says the Waihee administration was a lot more open. The state has taken a publication to the Honolulu Community-Media Council complaining that it reported extensively on a draft report on Hawaii's economy. Portnoy said he couldn't believe that the media council is pressing forward with an investigation of the matter.
The Hawaii chapter and University of Hawaii journalism department sponsored a morning-long seminar Dec. 11 on covering the multiple slayings at the Xerox Corp. on Nimitz Highway. News directors and managers discussed how they handled the coverage. The Red Cross and others talked about how information was disseminated to the media and the obstacles reporters faced. A panel of experts discussed what families go through when dealing with members of the media.
Board members of the Hawaii chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists were re-elected recently. -- President: Christie Wilson -- Vice President: Bruce Dunford -- Treasurer: Craig DeSilva -- Secretary: Donalyn Dela Cruz Board members are: -- Paula Bender -- Garett Kamemoto -- Stirling Morita -- Andy Yamaguchi -- Daryl Huff, past president
On Oct. 21, three SPJ interns talked about their experiences this year. The interns giving their experiences: -- Aimee Harris, Honolulu Publishing Co. -- Heather Tang, Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- Donovan Slack, Trade Publishing Co. One question raised was the interview process and the pressures intern candidates undergo while waiting for their turn.
If you are having a difficult time getting information from a state agency, just call Ben Cayetano. During a brown-bag session Aug. 24 in the governor's conference room, Cayetano made that offer after news media complained of roadblocks in getting information and records. "Why don't you ask me?" the governor said. Cayetano noted he proposed doing away with the Office of Information Practices but was blocked by legislators who were afraid of what the news media thought about the move. He said he still feels the attorney general's office could handle questions about open meetings and records. The Office of Information Practices has done little for the past five years. The governor said that in general, he believes television news coverage of him has been fair. "What drives me crazy is the print media, some times," Cayetano said. "Sometimes, I think, their editorial column gets into news columns." Cayetano suggested that the writers of editorials take a credit line so readers can see who is behind the opinions. It is important for reporters to do "self-policing" because of the protections the media enjoy under American case law, Cayetano said. The governor likened reporters to cops: "It is tough to be a good cop, but easy to be a Dirty Harry type." "It is easy for you to go off the deep end." Cayetano noted that reporters "are getting younger and younger with not much life experience." He urged reporters to allow journalism ethics "to play a larger role."
Honolulu Star-Bulletin cartoonist Corky Trinidad received the 1999 Fletcher Knebel Award from the Honolulu Community-Media Council during the Freedom of Information Day luncheon on March 21.
The award is for sustained outstanding contribution to media excellence in Hawaii.
The Media Council gave a special award to Desmond Byrne for "his action-oriented and enthusiastic commitment to First Amendment rights and open government."
Web Nolan, director of media programs at the East-West Center, spoke on "Freedom of Information: A Tale of Two Countries: The United States and China."
Richard McCord, author of "The Chain Gang: One Newspaper Against the Gannett Empire," spoke at the Moiliili Community Center.
McCord has been with Newsday and was with the Santa Fe Reporter.
SPJ-Hawaii honored Jack Kellner, KHON-Fox2 community affairs director, who is retiring after four decades of broadcasting in Hawaii.
The event was Jan. 29, 1999, at the SPJ-Hawaii annual meeting at Natsunoya Teahouse, 1935 Makanani Drive, Alewa Heights.
He was a former KPOI "Poi Boy," KHVH Radio news announcer and reporter at KGMB.
Kellner caps off a 20-year career at KHON, where he has served as assignment editor, news director and most recently as assistant news director for community affairs.
Christie Wilson, city editor of the Maui News, was re-elected president of the Hawaii chapter, SPJ.
Bruce Dunford of the Associated Press is vice president; Donalyn Dela Cruz of KHON-Fox2, secretary; and Craig DeSilva of Hawaii Business Magazine, treasurer.
Directors are: Stirling Morita of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin; Garrett Kamemoto of KGMB-9; Andy Yamaguchi of the Honolulu Advertiser; and Paula Gillingham of PR Works.
Gov. Ben Cayetano, although still far behind in the gubernatorial race with Linda Lingle, seems to be getting increasing support among middle-age, Americans of Japanese ancestry and union households.
One of the attactions Republican Linda Lingle has is freshness; she is not saddled with old political ties.
Those were some of the comments from pollsters Rebecca Ward of Ward Research and Pat Loui of OmniTrak on trends heading into the Nov. 3 general election. The chapter held a brown bag lunch event in the first-floor conference room of the Hawaii Newspaper Agency building.
While Cayetano's numbers appear to be going up in some subgroups, they're not enough to affect the overall difference between him and Lingle, Ward said.
She noted that those groups tend to be the working class people, the traditional bedrock of the Democratic Party.
Ward advised keeping an eye on those groups during the rest of the campaign.
Ward and Loui wouldn't say whether Lingle has peaked in popularity, but Ward noted that Lingle hasn't shown any tend upward either.
At a meeting, members approved five bylaws changes and one failed because it did not receive the required two-thirds vote. It would have deleted all references to Sigma Delta Chi.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank you for judging newspaper contests, thank you for helping with the Region 11 conference.
Free pupus 6 p.m. Aug. 20 at Liberty House Ala Moana, Special Events Room, third floor.
A panel discussion, "Crisis in Confidence: The string of false reporting and its impact on our business," was held. Panelists: Attorney Jeff Portnoy, UH Professor Tom Brislin and Diane Chang, Honolulu Star-bulletin senior editor.
Gary Rodrigues, state director of the United Public Workers union, says he tests some news reporters by providing them with information.
Then if the information "doesn't come out," Rodrigues may decide not to talk to the reporter or his or her news organization in the future, he said.
At an SPJ brown bag lunch in the Hawaii Newspaper Agency building on June 9, Rodrigues told 12 people that he hasn't been talking to Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporters.
He noted that he tested a Star-Bulletin reporter and the information he offered didn't come out or was "twisted."
Rodrigues complained of stories that were not factual and said he did not like the "negative" slant of the newspaper.
Reporters told Rodrigues that he hasn't been doing a good job of telling the media what he is doing.
Rodrigues said he doesn't like demanding corrections or writing letters to the editor to correct articles.
When asked what stories he didn't like, Rodrigues said the one that came to mind was the prison director accusing UPW guards of abusing overtime.
This was an example of a news story "based on strictly what is vs. what the reporter perceives it to be," Rodrigues said.
The statement by the prison director became fact and no one in the media tried to find out what was actually occurring, he said.
Media attorney Jeff Portnoy says he thinks legislators shouldn't change the state law establishing the Office of Information Practices, which issues opinions on whether records should be released to the public.
The administration, in a cost-cutting move, has proposed disbanding the office, set up a one-person unit within the ombudsman's office and allowing the state attorney general and county attorneys to issue opinions on records.
Sen. Les Ihara has introduced a measure to preserve the Office of Information Practices, but move it from the executive to the legislative branch of government.
Portnoy told a gathering at the Columbia Inn that the Ihara bill is preferrable to the administration proposal.
But why tinker with the law? he asked.
"You're better off with what you've got (the current law) as long as they keep the full budget," Portnoy said.
Portnoy, a critic of OIP, acknowledges that his opinion of the office changes from day to day. He called OIP a "graveyard for requests (for information."
"What do you do when in the past they haven't been as responsive as their predecessor?" he said.
At a forum Oct. 6 in the fourth-floor News Cafe in the Hawaii Newspaper Agency building, Naomi Sodetani, free-lance writer for Honolulu Weekly, and Ruth Ann Becker, publicist for Molokai Ranch, and Dick Miller, chairman of the Honolulu Community-Media Council, talked about what the boundaries of coverage should be.
The Honolulu Weekly newspaper told Sodetani to stop working on an article about the Great Molokai Ranch Trail after Becker Communications, which does public relations for the ranch, protested.
Molokai Ranch attorneys also tried to disqualify Sodetani's husband, attorney Alan Murakami, from representing Pono. The group is opposing the plan for 300 rental units in camps across 53,000 acres.
Honolulu Weekly Managing Editor Elizabeth Kieszkowski discussed the possible conflict with Sodetani, and they decided a disclosure in the article would allow readers to determine whether it was biased.
In June, the ranch received an e-mail message Sodetani had sent noting an encounter she had with Becker of Becker Communications during a 1992 controversial eviction of Maunawili residents.
Becker complained to the Honolulu Weekly that the message showed Sodetani's bias against her. Becker then demanded the newspaper pull her off the story when Sodetani disclosed her relation to Murakami.
Kieszkowski agreed that Sodetani would not do the story.
At the forum, Sodetani said she felt she could do an article about the project. Her and her husband's interests are separate.
Nonetheless, Sodetani told the Weekly editor about the potential conflict and they decided that the relationship would be disclosed to the readers who could decide for themselves whether the information was biased.
Becker said this case seemed to be a clear conflict that called for action and raised questions about whether the article would be fair to the ranch.
Tom Brislin, professor at the University of Hawaii journalism school, said that while traditional media might not allow such coverage, it is not as clear-cut for the nontraditional or advocacy media. They already have a mission to push for one side or another, he said.
Media Council Chairman Dick Miller presented an award to the University of Hawaii student chapter, SPJ, for outstanding achievement in journalism for its battle to win access to police disciplinary records.
SPJ Chapter President Daryl Huff presented the FOI Award to U.S. District Judge David Ezra, citing his comments outlining the problems of keeping police disciplinary records closed to the public.
Judy Ezra, the judge's wife, accepted the award.
Kit and I go way back at the Advertiser -- back to about the time of the Crimean War -- and over the years I've come to value him as a colleague and a friend.
He came to the paper in 1971, a year after I did, and one of the things that amazed me about him right from the start is that he did the work of three men: Moe, Larry and Curley.
No one I have ever known at the Advertiser could approach his expertise in business and finance, and in my opinion no one could approach his accuracy and his sense of fairness.
He also was a darned good writer. In the late '70s and early '80s, I would often substitute as an assistant city editor, and I remember how we who sat on the City Desk welcomed Kit's stories -- because they were always clear and never in need of much editing.
Kit was an outstanding business writer and an even more outstanding person. Yeah, sure, those of us who sat near him in the Money Section had to learn to put up with his loud and abusive manner, and his large repertoire of lurid jokes. And as Susan Hooper recently wrote in the "phony front page" of his farewell "roast," we all remember that whenever an attractive woman walked into the newsroom, Kit would lean back, crane his neck, and say, "Hmmm, the Kitster likes what he sees." He also yelled out "Babe Alert!" at those times. Of course, our recollections of his violent, explosive temper do not bear repeating on this occasion. Otherwise -- and I'm quite sincere here -- he was, and still is, the ultimate gentleman, magnanimous in every way, a give, and unwilling -- if not downright incapable -- of saying an unkind word about anyone.
In fact, my wife Barbara and I would rate Kit and Margie as among the least-judgmental, most accepting people we have ever known. They have clear values and strong religious beliefs, yet they don't impose them on other people. They simply do instead of talk; set an example rather than lecture. They have also both shown us how very, very sweet retirement -- and grandparenting -- can be.
No parent can experience a worse tragedy than the death of one's own child. The loss of Kit and Margie's daughter Patty to cancer in 1981 deeply saddened us all. Yet in the years since her death, we have watched Kit and Margie show us how tragedy can yield positives.
One thing they've done is to raise tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research through the Patty Smith Fun Runs.
Another positive was to publish one of the most compelling little books you'll ever read -- not just a saddening book but certainly a perspective-builder, especially for those times when we tend to take life for granted and think of ourselves as indestructible. It's called "Mango Days," and it has been compared to "The Diary of Anne Frank." It's a compilation of poems, letters and entries Patty wrote in her personal journal over her 18-month battle with cancer. This book is still available in some bookstores, and it can be ordered. If you read it, prepare yourself to be deeply touched. But you will also find encouragement in Patty's words. And . . . you'll see a clear and lovely portrait of the parents who raised her.
Like her dad, Patty was a very good writer. I saw this one year when I was helping judge the writing in high school yearbooks. Punahou's yearbook won first prize, and it wasn't until later that I learned Patty was the editor and wrote most of the copy. Thus I was intrigued by this passage, on Page 18 of "Mango Days":
"I wonder if I was born loving words, or if someone else taught me to be this way. Logically, I know I must have learned to enjoy reading and writing. But somehow, it seems that the urge is in my blood . . . " Although these are Patty's thoughts about herself, they also seem to be speaking about her father.
Kit, we miss you at the Advertiser; we notice your absence every day -- and we wonder when the paper will hire a financial writer. When the time, the funding, the phases of the moon and the positions of the planets are right, the paper may -- before the millennium -- find someone to succeed you. but it will never find someone to replace you.
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