April 2003 Newsletter

Gridiron tentatively set for Oct. 24-25

Gridiron 2002, the chapter's musical parody of the year's news events, is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 24-25 at Diamond Head Theatre.

Keoki Kerr, Garett Kamemoto and the writers have been working since April Fool's Day to bring you the funniest lines, songs and skits.

If you have any songs or skits or want to be part of the cast, call Kerr at 535-0463 or e-mail him at kkerr@kitv.com

Gridiron funds 14 summer internships

Proceeds from Gridiron 2003 funded 14 full- and part-time summer internships in journalism and public relations.

They were awarded in March by the Society of Professional Journalists- Hawaii Chapter.

Full-time summer internships earning $3,250:

Part-time summer internships earning $1,750:

Veteran newsman says journalists should raise more questions about the war with Iraq

Veteran reporter Sander Vanocur said he wanted the news media to ask the tough questions -- when it comes to the war with Iraq.

The former NBC newsman said reporters aren't asking the right questions or getting them answered because they are afraid of being called a "liberal."

Questions about the Vietnam War in the early days got Vanocur labeled as a liberal. He says that hurt his career a bit.

"There's just not a robust debate going on," he told the Honolulu Community-Media Council, Hawaii Chapter SPJ, Pacific-Asian Affairs Council and the East-West Center on March 12.

"Why is it (the war) in the public interest?"

Vanocur was in town as part of a distinguished lecture series by the University of Hawaii.

He spoke at the annual Freedom of Information Day luncheon at the Imin Center of the East-West Center -- marking the birthday of James Madison, regarded as the author of the First Amendment.

The topic of his talk was "Can Democracy Survive Mass Media?"

The news media should be asking the president and his administrators such questions as:

How much is the war going to cost and how are we going to pay for it?

Does the president have the authority to go to war?

Such coverage is likely to stay that way until there is bloodshed or the war becomes lengthy, he said.

"I raise these questions because it's my nature," Vanocur said. "I love this craft of journalism. I want to see it be more and more an examiner of conventional wisdom."

Generally, there has been a debasement of the news media -- which tracks the degradation of taste in the culture, he said.

The news cycle used to be print-oriented with a.m. and p.m. cycles.

Now, it's 24 hours a day with television, radio and computers.

There seems to be "a plethora of gas bags (on television) who could not cover a two-car funeral," he said.

These newspeople "don't give us facts or reasoning. They give us opinions."

Vanocur said journalism is a craft, not a profession.

When he started in the business, "we took our work seriously, but not ourselves," Vanocur said.

Regional Conference Report

The Region 11 SPJ conference Feb. 21-23 in Tempe, Ariz., featured a Better Watchdog Workshop presented by Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc.

It was helpful for student journalists as well as experienced ones.

SPJ Hawaii is working to bring a similar workshop to the state later this year, and it may be worth the effort.

Highlights of the regional meeting, held at the start of the conference and attended by delegates from SPJ's Region 11:

The SPJ chapter evaluation and the annual report systems have been simplified and are now more locally focused.

SPJ officials summarized arrangements for "imbedded" journalists during the war in Iraq. SPJ leadership planned to discuss any reports of censorship with the Pentagon.

National SPJ cut its expenses by reducing staff and other measures, putting its budget back in the black.

The last weekend in June, the SPJ will hold its leadership conference at Purdue University in Indiana.

The current national membership stands at about 9,840 members. Although that number has dropped from an earlier total of more than 10,000, SPJ leadership said the Bush administration's reputation of withholding information from journalists was beginning to boost membership.

Highlights from Region 11 chapter activities:

The Los Angeles Chapter raised $1,000 by offering a "Crime Scenes Tour" of Hollywood homes where well-known crimes had occurred.

The San Diego Chapter has started a high school program that puts members in high schools to motivate students' interest in journalism and journalism issues. San Diego representatives encouraged other chapters to start this kind of program as well.

San Diego also asked Asian American and Afro-American professional journalism groups to join them in activities. SPJ leadership encouraged chapters to do more of this.

Other conference highlights included a luncheon keynote address by former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Stanley Feldman, who allowed the media to cover juror deliberations. He encouraged more open media coverage of our legal system to help Americans understand it.

There was also an interesting presentation on Don Bolles, an IRE founding member and Arizona Republic investigative reporter who died in a 1976 car bombing while pursuing a story.

And FBI Special Agent Joseph Stuart offered tips on how to get information out of sources. He believes that investigators and media can do more to help each other succeed in getting information.

If SPJ Hawaii members would like Better Watchdog Workshop handouts, contact Susan Kreifels at kreifels@eastwestcenter.org

Medical Privacy Provisions

The Healthcare Association of Hawaii has set up guidelines for release of information about patients under the federal medical privacy rules:

The only information that the hospital is allowed to share with a reporter is a one-word condition report. To disclose even that information, HIPAA requires that:

The reporter must know the patient's name

And the patient must hve agreed to be included in the facility directory

For the hospital to release any information about a patient beyond a one-word condition report, the patient must have a separate agreement with the hospital.

If patients or families want to talk to the media directly, they are free todo so. If the interview is to happen at the medical facility, the family and reporter must first obtain clearance from the public relations representative at the medical facility.

Dates of Interest

Government records bills

Bills affecting government records and meetings died in the Legislature:

SB 314. Exempts county councils and boards from the Sunshine Law.

SB 1233, HB 1528. Legislative sunshine law: Bans proxy voting; requires public notice of floor votes; requires public votes to suspend legislative rules; requires hearing for legislative rules; bans unequal weighted votes.

SB1232, HB 937: Requires public notice for informational meetings and briefings

SB1385, HB1101. New board members shall not meet to discuss board business before they are sworn in.

SB1636. Public Agency Meetings: Provides that meetings of any advisory group be covered by Sunshine Law.

SB427, HB443: Electronic copies of government records. Requires agencies to provide electronic copies of government records allows agencies to charge a reasonable fee; allows agencies to provide remote access.

SB802, HB397: Limits copying fees to a maximum of 25 cents per page and removes the minimum five cents per page fee

SB1044, HB933: Requires governor's executive orders, proclamations, and messages to the Legislature to be made public within five days of issuance

SB1212: Creates a state information practices commission. Appropriates money for initial costs of establishing the commission. Makes OIP a permanent special purpose agency under lieutenant governor's office. Allows commission to appoint the director instead of the governor. Defines vexatious requester.

SB1229, HB931: Requires nonprofit groups with a majority of board members appointed by the state to abide by the state open records and sunshine laws, in addition to nonprofit corporation laws; gives auditor subpoena powers

SB1242, HB1026: Neighbor island access: establishes a statewide fair access commission in the governor's office & gives the joint legislative access committee responsibilities for reviewing, evaluating, and recommending improvements to access government information

SB1499, HB 1571: Office of Information Practices: creates independent five-member OIP appointment panel that appoints executive director to six-year term

SB 1600, HB1661: Vexatious requester. Authorizes the director of OIP to determine that a person is a vexatious requester and places restrictions on such a person.

SB1605, HB1514: Information practices compliance program: sets up compliance program and designates a compliance officer in each department; OIP certifies departmental compliance.

War, terrorism and media forum

Four Jefferson Fellows from the East-West Center will present their views on “War, Terrorism and the Media” at noon May 6 at the Pacific Club.

Panelists are Vipul Mudgal, resident editor of the Hindustan Times, of Jaipur, India; Andy Budiman, editor, announcer and producer of the Liberal Islam Network Program, 68th Radio News Agency, Jakarta, Indonesia; Fasih Ahmed, assistant news editor/copy editor of the Friday Times and Daily Times, Lahore, Pakistan; and Estrelita Cruz Valderama, chief of reporters of Philippine Journalists Inc., Manila, the Philippines.

The Fellows will share perceptions of media issues in Asia and Pacific stemming from the Sept. 11th attacks

Other Fellows will join in a discussion afterward.

Registration is at 11:30 a.m.. Cost is $18 a person. Lunch and program begin at noon at the Pacific Club, 1451 Queen Emma St.

Reservations must be made by May 2 to Holly Green, 545-1075 or hollygreen@hawaii.rr.com

Hawaii SPJ