Saturday, October 18, 2008


Independent journalism projects to watch

by Larry Geller

The video clip referenced in my previous post is from the American News Project, a well-supported operation that began in May. Read about them on their About Us page.

Their emphasis is on video, which is the only way, I believe, that independent journalism can compete with TV. I’m not saying that print is dead, just that there is a huge segment of our population that has been raised on video and prefers it. Those of us who blog can embed video produced by others, but we’re beholden to the hard work of the producers.

Hawaii has a promising new website, The Hawaii Independent. It still needs some work, but it’s a good beginning.

They’re well advised, with several of the luminaries of the Hawaii journalism scene, both traditional and alternative, listed on their editorial board. And they’re ambitious enough to indicate that they intend to pay for contributions.

Their website is improving and is a good start.

It’s the content that counts most, though. I’m going to dig right in.

I am glad to see Ikaika Hussey’s commentary on Governor Lingle’s plan to improve Hawaii’s economy, Lingle’s plan: 2 out of 5 points are mistakes, but the link to the plan is broken, and I think there’s a misunderstanding of Lingle’s last point, which is critical, her plan to continue maximizing federal funds available to Hawaii.

Hussey’s stand against the militarization of Hawaii is well known and I agree completely, but Lingle and her cabinet are chasing federal funds for schools and social welfare that Hawaii has been missing or has returned unused.

As an example, from my notes, in 2001, the Department of Education lost $528,000 in federal funds by failing to use them within the 27-month period after the federal government released the funds to Hawaii. That’s just a single year’s loss and just for the DOE.

There are also federal grants that Hawaii is now making use of because someone went looking for them.

These funds offset part of what we pay with our state taxes. While I disagree with the administration on so much, this is one point where I feel that they deserve credit. There’s still work to be done, especially with regard to education. Money that the DOE walked away from could have been used for special education during the Felix Consent Decree, for example. The kids lose when federal funds have to be returned unused.

Hussey’s other objection is to increasing funding for tourism promotion. I don’t know if that’s a good idea or not, but insisting that we need to invest in economic independence instead is hollow without specifying where that investment should be made. I’ve found that tough to do when I’ve tried. I don’t think there is an alternative economic model yet developed that can replace tourism’s dominance of Hawaii’s economy.

Like it or not, so many people are employed in the tourism/service industries that should tourism not be supported somehow (publicly or privately) many low-income wage earners could lose their jobs just as the state’s economy turns sour on them as well. These jobs, including hotel, restaurant and retail staff, tour bus drivers and others, are poorly paid and now at risk. We simply don’t have any other viable path to economic independence, at least that I’m aware of, and none that those holding tourism-related jobs can move into short-term.

I’m sure I’ll hear something about this if I’m wrong.

So a big welcome to the new blog in town, and let’s see how it goes.


Post a Comment

Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

<< Home


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Newer›  ‹Older