Saturday, June 12, 2010

Just sayin' -- There's more to Hawaii than just Oahu

OK, I will admit it right up front. I am a haole. A malihini. A wahine.

But in some ways, I see myself as the King Kamehameha of the Hawaii media. My aim since I started this blog in 2008 has been to unite the islands. To remind that Oahu-centric state government and that Oahu-centric media that there are, at last count, at least eight separate islands making up the state of Hawaii.

I carry that goal forward as the neighbor island representative for the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter.

I’ve been accused of just using feeds to create All Hawaii News. Not true. Day in and day out, I read all the news from all the islands and then carefully – as a blogger later to the scene calls it – “hand-curate” each news item, arranged in, I hope, a readable format. I want All Hawaii News to be just that – all of the state news, no matter where it comes from. I’ve also added a feed, “What they’re saying about Hawaii,” to capture the latest national and international take on our state. That must have been a good idea, too, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I now reside on Kamehameha’s original island, Hawaii Island. But my three years on Oahu showed me time and again that those islands formerly known as “outer islands,” and now known by the friendlier, but no less alienating, moniker of “neighbor islands,” are still but an afterthought most of the time.

A source of food, yes. And soon, a source of electricity. A nice spot for a day-trip or vacation away from Honolulu, where the real action is. Just consider the snotty editorial from the Honolulu Advertiser, when it was in that kick-the-dog mood of its last days in existence.

And why worry about those neighbor islands? Oahu comprises 70 percent of the population of Hawaii. A healthy chunk, but not the end-all and be-all of all that is Hawaii. Are you listening, gubernatorial candidates? Our percentage can make or break your career.

But still that perception persists. Honolulu is where it’s at, the rest of the islands be damned. Even in the media, to work at one of the numerous daily papers on the neighbor islands is like being in the farm leagues. Maybe you can hope for something bigger, better, in the big city.

Even I, at the point of my career where I’ve been that, done that, I hear it that I am somehow to aspire to a job in Honolulu, that city I left not that long ago. But, there are all kinds of successful careers. I deliberately moved from covering state government for the 4th largest state in the nation to state government for the 50th largest. I then, not so deliberately, but it turns out no less happily, moved to the little Big Island to cover local government on a smaller scale. Turns out, it’s all the same thing.

But enough about me. Back to our islands. Back to how we’ve somehow become the Rodney Dangerfield of the state. No respect, no respect.

Even the latest tempest in the Honolulu media has brought that disrespect to mind. Ten years ago, when the Honolulu Star-Bulletin threatened to fold, we heard, “How sad for Hawaii to have only one daily newspaper and one editorial viewpoint.”

We’re hearing that same tune again about the buy-out of the Honolulu Advertiser and the new merged product, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Only one voice for Hawaii. Who are we kidding? Every major island in this state has at least one, and in some cases, two, daily newspapers. All islands also have at least one weekly and/or alternate newspaper. And then, there are the zillion bloggers on each island, each with their particular take on government and their well-thought-out or not-so-well-thought-out opinions as well.

But enough about them too. Because, it’s all good. No matter which island it is, lucky we live Hawaii. Just sayin’