Thursday, February 26, 2009
Hawaii County secrecy policy confirmed, rescinded
by Larry Geller
A Hawaii Tribune-Herald article published today described a Big Island government policy implemented and now rescinded by the county Department of Public Works. The policy seems to have been specifically aimed at denying access by three Big Island bloggers to DPW employees, thus shielding their actions from public view.
The policy has been rescinded, but until there is a clarifying county-wide policy in place, there’s no assurance that the public will have the access it should. The article indicates that a county-wide policy will be created.
Particularly objectionable is the blackballing of particular individuals by name, presumably on the basis of the content of their websites.
This article is interesting to me as an illustration of the often painful transformation from a media universe populated only by professional journalists to an uncertain and fuzzy future in which anyone may write for others to read. Or, in the case of Big Island Video News, produce high-quality videos available on demand (the link in the Tribune-Herald article is incorrect, use this one). Check out Dave Corrigan’s volcano coverage and note the quality of his videos and his website. Blackballing this work is clearly a mistake, I wish we could have similar coverage of Oahu).
I’ve felt that the quality of traditional blogging on the Big Island is also impressive. May a thousand blogs bloom. And may the County learn that cooperation is probably the best policy.
We are all entitled to public information, of course, regardless of the means of conveyance to our computer screens. This requires some adjustment in relationships between government workers and the public. When the phone rings in a government office it could be anyone asking for anything. Until government gets wired to the point where the information is automatically made available, there will be discomfort among those who still believe that their work products are government secrets. The inquirer may be a reporter, a blogger, or just anyone. Each deserves access to public information.
(thanks to Damon Tucker for his persistence and for bringing the above article to my attention)
Hawaii,alternative media,citizen journalism,journalism,Big Island
I was the one directly targeted by this allegedly withdrawn directive. I strongly feel that the DPW PIO mishandled this big time. Thus now the DPW has egg all over their face
due to her power grab.