Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The Honolulu Weekly strikes a blow against tourism--again

by Larry Geller

HW20070822Tourists pick up the Honolulu Weekly because it's free, and because it's a good reference for many kinds of music and the arts, not to mention those handy "dating" service ads.

With a cover story like this, some of them might take the issue home to show their friends they survived the wilds of Honolulu without getting killed, and to warn them what a dangerous place it is. Look, right there on the cover of the Weekly, a "smoking gun" and a sensational sub-head promising startling crime statistics.

I wonder if the Weekly thought about the power of such a cover and its effect on visitors, children, and even the rest of us?

[Pop quiz: who told Spiderman "Remember, with great power comes great responsibility?" Answer below.]

Reading the article (which many tourists may not be able to do) reveals "As for the city of Honolulu, it has the lowest incidence of violent crimes for cities of 700,000 people or more." I think we all know that the property crime rate is high, but you don't get shot when they break into your car at night. A handy chart at the end of the article shows how safe Hawaii is compared to other states. Your car and household possessions may suffer, but you're not likely to get beaten up, murdered or raped. This is hardly "startling," it's the same news we read about every year.

In short, there's no "smoking gun" according to the usual meaning of the term "indisputable proof or evidence of a crime."

We wrote about an earlier unfortunate Weekly cover on April 13. It featured a fabricated a picture of a hand grenade supposedly washed up on the beach. That was another great issue for tourists to take home and show their friends and families. Man, this place is dangerous!

Except it's not.

Speaking of journalistic standards, this issue reports for I believe the third time (p. 5) that several of our city council members were given business trips to Europe to view the Netherlands' Phileas Advanced Public Transport System, a bus-based transit alternative for Oahu. I did not recall any such trip and verified with calls to two council member's offices that there was none. Maybe no one from the city council called the Weekly to correct the error, but it would have been nice had the Weekly done its fact checking on this charged issue by itself.


[Answer to pop quiz: Spiderman's uncle, Ben Parker warned him.]


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