Monday, December 21, 2015


We could use some quality reporting in our daily newspaper

by Larry Geller

Compare Ian Lind’s coverage of the bankruptcy of Hoana Medical in Investors’ claim triggered Hoana Medical bankruptcy with the light and single-sourced coverage of the same story in the Star-Advertiser. If you still have the December 12 issue or on-line access, it’s Hoana Medical looks to future even as it files for bankruptcy.

Ian not only gave background on the firm’s product and founding, but he consulted the bankruptcy filing itself to learn what deep doo-doo the company is facing. To read the numbers he posted is to understand what is happening. Kristen Consillio, on the other hand, basically acted as stenographer for Hoana Medical’s president and chief operating officer, quoting him at length but giving no depth at all to the bankruptcy filing itself or the true situation of the company that the numbers reveal.

What did the Star-Advertiser miss? The entire story, really. Here is a tiny snip from Ian Lind’s article:

The bankruptcy filing was done in order to block two investors from collecting an arbitration award, according to court records. Attorneys representing the investors were due in state court to confirm the arbitration award on December 9. Hoana filed for bankruptcy on December 8.

The article that Ian posted is something I would expect from journalists on the single daily paper we have left in Honolulu. Check out both articles and see if you agree.

I feel informed on the subject after reading the blog post, not at all by the newspaper article.

Search for coverage of the country’s largest and most prolonged civil rights movement since the 1960’s in the pages of the Star-Advertiser. You won’t find it. When there was a major protest or violence, there may have been a single story, but nothing about the almost nightly protests since about last August that have stopped traffic on major thoroughfares around the country. You would not understand the changes in this country’s police practices that are being demanded by increasing numbers of people.

As I write this, a Guardian article came chirping into my smartphone to report that there will be no indictment in the case of Sandra Bland’s death in a Texas jail last summer. Can you put that name in context from what you know from reading our daily paper? Do you know how much publicity this case has drawn across the nation? And would you recognize the other names associated with the #BlackLivesMatter campaign?

Puzzle over how come the ACLU could so quickly obtain a TRO against the City and County of Honolulu destroying ID, medicines, money and other personal possessions of homeless people. In fact, the City’s illegal acts, repeated hundreds if not thousands of times in their day and night raids on homeless encampments, had been going on for years. Yet all the newspaper gave you was demands for more sweeps: how necessary they are and how they are affecting business and tourism. Nevermind that tourism is setting new records despite co-existing with homeless people in Waikiki.

Yes, the sidewalks should be clear, but no, violating people’s civil rights is not the way to do it.

Nor has the paper reported on a housing crisis that has been running in the state at least since about 2003. Affordable housing will not produce the ad revenue—the numerous full-page ads—that the luxury condos bring the paper, so I guess it’s development is just not newsworthy. But the chronic and critical lack of affordable housing is one of the principal drivers for homelessness. Did you know, from reading the paper, that homelessness had been increasing in Hawaii even as it decreases as a national average? This is not recent news.

Wonder what exactly “Housing First” is. The paper, despite its belated research on the subject, seems to believe it is mainly putting people in housing while allowing them to do drugs and drink. The paper wouldn’t even print the term “Housing First” until they were basically forced to when belatedly comparing Honolulu’s feeble housing effort to the success stories in other municipalities, And the reporter assigned to its “homelessness beat” seems obsessed with dropping the name of State Representative Tom Brower whenever he can. That is filler, it is not news. And I’m trying to be kind.

Learn in detail what the controversy over the City’s choice of LED streetlights is really about from Civil Beat’s coumnist Curt Sanborn in his article, Missing the Curve on Highway Lighting. Yes, a web page has relatively unlimited space to explain. But the Star-Advertiser has a web page, and it also is willing to fill space in the print version with meaningless and unhelpful graphics instead of text that could be used for more detailed stories.

Wish that Civil Beat publisher Pierre Omidyar would buy the newspaper and bring the same values and value to our subscriptions to the Star-Advertiser that we get from his investment in Civil Beat.

Oh, Ian Lind’s investigative reporting and commentary can also be found on Civil Beat. I have no idea if the newspaper would even want him.


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