February 2003 Newsletter

Annual dinner honors Denby Fawcett

Walking point with Denby Fawcett.
Hear Fawcett talk about covering the Vietnam War.
Watch Fawcett get inducted in to the SPJ Hall of Fame.
All this will happen at the annual dinner of the Hawaii chapter SPJ at 6:30 p.m. March 1 in Alan Wong's Pineapple Room at Macy's Ala Moana.
Fawcett, KITV's political and legislative reporter, was a female correspondent in the Vietnam War. From 1966, she covered the war for the Honolulu Advertiser.
She was among nine reporters who wrote chapters for a book titled “War Torn - Stories of Warfrom the Women Reporters Who Covered Vietnam.”
Costs are $33 per member, $37 for nonmembers and $340 to a table of 10.
No host cocktails start at 6:30 p.m. with dinner to begin at 7 p.m.
You will have your choice of kiawe grilled chicken on garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed vegetables and veal jus or grilled asparagus and wild mushroom risotto with truffle essence. Dessert is lilikoi cheesecake with fresh fruit and guava sauce.

Director of Project Censored lauds new media democracy

Peter Phillips says he's happy to see a media democracy spreading across the world on the Internet and in alternative newspapers.
That's because it means more stories - and some important ones -- will reach the public rather than get clogged in or dismissed by conventional corporate media, he said.
Phillips, director of Project Censored, has an unusual perspective: He heads up an organization that collects the important stories that aren't reported or are underplayed by American news media and publishes a book annually on the top 25 censored stories. He's able to do it with the help of 100 students from Sonoma State University in California.
One of those stories was that Americans bombed Iraqi water and sewage system during the Gulf War, Phillips said in a Jan. 3 talk to the Hawaii chapter SPJ, Honolulu Community-Media Council, Akaku viewers and Honolulu Weekly readers at the Pacific Club.
On top of that, chlorine to clean up the water supply was blocked from entering the country because it was on a list of prohibited supplies, Phillips said. That led to contamination of Iraqi water supplies. Soon people were dying from fecal contamination.
The new media democracy became evident after the demonstrations in Seattle about the World Bank and has crossed many borders thanks to “people in the street and activists,” Phillips said.
“Many people (reporters, editors) who believe in the First Amendment, the public's right to know ... are seeing increasing restrictions - many self-imposed restrictions (on their stories),” he said, referring to reporters worrying about their career or offending company board members or advertisers.
The national news media are not using other sources of information, relying on the Pentagon as the authoritative source, he said.
Phillips also noted that the FBI wouldn't answer who owns airline stock after the law enforcement agency reviewed the ownership after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks.
“These are the kinds of questions we used to ask, but we don't do it anymore,” Phillips said.
Also the media have to keep an eye on the federal security forces monitoring people's personal information in the war on terrorism.
For example, federal agents can now monitor an individual's credit card and other personal information to spot potential terrorists. Under the law, a person wouldn't even know if the agents were gathering his or her personal, financial information.

New York Times editor talks about 24/7 media coverage

Cable television news has been charging ahead with coverage 24 hours a day seven days a week since the Persian Gulf war, says Frank Rich.
With the war, "CNN was put on the map," and it "created a whole new form of news," Rich said.
It was the first war with its own logo. And it was the first war with its own theme music.
It also created a group of news media "stars."
Rich, associate editor and op-ed columnist for the New York Times, spoke to the Honolulu Community-Media Council and the Hawaii chapter on Jan. 21 at the Pacific Club.
Rich was in town as part of the University of Hawaii distinguished lecture series.
After the Gulf War, it was the O.J. Simpson trial.
The trial presented a different problem: While the war provided news for 24-hour coverage, the trial had long periods of inactivity to fill, Rich said.
"They had to look for ways to keep us interested," he said.
The news shows brought in experts to justify the time devoted to this "soap opera," he said.
Princess Diana's death was another story that took up 24-hour coverage over several days with very little news. Some people were brought in to talk abut how they knew her or how they had dined with her, Rich said.
Then with the airplane crash that killed John Kennedy Jr., the 24/7 system went a step further: There was fiction attached to the story.
Then it was coverage of the Clinton sexcapade.
But fueling some of the coverage of Clinton was two developments:
The advent of the Internet. Just before the intern scandal broke, the Internet had become a medium viewed by regular people, not just geeks.
Two competing cable television news shows.
Rich said the resulting hysteria "was so disproportionate to the news."
Then 9/11 brought it around and the news media did a credible job of coverage: The hysteria level needed to be kept down and rumors and false information didn't need to be disseminated.
He criticized the binge coverage over Iraq.
With slogans of "Countdown to Iraq," they drown out other important news such as the economy or dissent with going to war, Rich said.

Dates of Interest

There will be no IRE workshop

The Hawaii chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists won't be able to bring you a Better Watchdog program by the Investigative Reporters and Editors on April 26. The person who would be running the workshop had to cancel.

Look for something in the fall.

Government access measures in 2003

Here are legislative bills affecting government records and meetings:

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 met 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.
Government Records
SB427, HB443: Electronic copies of government records. Requires agencies to provide electronic copies of govern-
ment records allows agencies to
charge a reasonable fee; allows agencies to provide remote access.
SB802, HB397: Limits copy 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.
Government access bills in Legislature
Denby Fawcett Courtesy, KITV-4

Hawaii chapter offers 14 summer internships

Apply now for summer internships sponsored by the Hawaii chapter SPJ.
An applicant must be a college student who is a Hawaii resident, either enrolled in an institution of higher learning in the state of Hawaii, or a graduate of a high school in Hawaii who is now attending college either in Hawaii or elsewhere. Applicants will be considered only if they will have
completed their sophomore year of college by June 2003. Applications must be postmarked by Feb. 24, 2003 For details see: www.flex.com/~spj. Send application to P.O. Box 3141, Honolulu, HI 96802.
The following full-time SPJ internships will consist of 10 weeks of work at 40 hours a week and will earn $3,250: Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Maui
News (for Maui residents), KGMB Channel 9, Pacific Business News, Honolulu Magazine, Hawaii Business Magazine, Trade Publishing Co., Alexander & Baldwin Inc. and Bright Light Marketing Group
Part-time internships at $1,750 for eight weeks: KHON, KITV, KHNL, Pacific News.Net and Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii SPJ