Supporting a Free Press

It is clear that one of the primary goals of the Trump/GOP insurrection is to deligitimize the free press in favor of right leaning partisan news outlets like Fox or OAN. Constant claims of bias and censorship have been red meat for the hard right for some time now, intensifying after the defeat of Trump and the January 6th insurrection. The Big Lie is everything to the modern GOP, repeat the lie or be forced out of the party.

Media Bias Chart from Ad Fortes Media
Media bias chart from Ad Fortes Media

Personally I find this strategy extremely offensive, to the point that anything that the GOP once professed as their platform, values I might otherwise agree with and might support, are now completely stained by this tactic. Personal freedom and responsibilty, limited government, fiscal responsibility? These classic conservative goals have become irrelevant, the ends do not justify the means.

I have realized (maybe a bit late in this game) that I should be more active in supporting a free press. In this day of shrinking newsrooms and limited news choices it has become more important than ever.

For this reason I have given myself a bit of a Christmas gift, a gift I have been enjoying for a few weeks now, a subscription to the New York Times. Reading the NYT app on my pad and phone has become part of my daily routine. Good news, along with a games section… Doing the Times mini crossword is also part of my routine, I try to do it in less than a minute with my record being 24 seconds.

No news source is perfect, the NYT does lean slightly left, maybe a bit moreso in the opinion section, but is generally rated as a high quality new source. I do supplement this with reading of both NPR and the BBC news sites, both links front and center in my home screen and regularly clicked. I got into the habit of listening to the BBC in my years of living in England, and have been a listener, or reader, ever since. The BBC gives a non US-centric view of world news I find useful.

I realize it has been a while since my last donation to our local NPR station, I need to put that on the todo list as well.

Will access to the mauna be closed permanently?

This one is a new one, at least to me, this bit of misinformation started showing up just after Governor Ige’s press conference that announced the access road closure to allow construction equipment to be moved.

Loading Snow
Loading pickup trucks with snow for export from the mauna.

Why do I get the feeling shit will go down on Mauna Kea with TMT, which will give the authorities the excuse to execute their plan of shutting down the summit road to the public for good? Mountain access stolen….
(Isn’t that part of the new plan? Reducing public’s access? All they need is an excuse to do it sooner than later. What then?)

Demian Barrios, Facebook post, July 11, 2019

Having a good understanding of management to the mauna I know this one to be false. One need only read the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan, Public Access Subplan to know where the official stance on access is. These are the binding management plans for the mauna, and nowhere do these plans permit permanent restrictions on the public’s use of Mauna Kea. Quite the opposite, public and cultural access is to be specifically permitted.

Changing these plans, and changing the access rules requires a full rule making process and public hearings.

Continue reading “Will access to the mauna be closed permanently?”

Connecting the Community

This island is a small community, anything that happens is likely to involve someone you know, or a friend of theirs. There are often only a one to three degrees of separation between you and nearly every event that makes the local news.

Mauna Kea Wreck
A wrecked Toyota pickup truck about a mile below Hale Pohaku
Even someone who has not grown up here seems to become quickly enmeshed in the community… One day I hear news of a body being discovered on a remote Kohala coastline by kayakers. The next day at work I ask Peggi about her husband’s kayak trip… As you guessed, they found the body. This may seem unusual, but here these sort of linked events are commonplace, amplified by the small community effect.

It is amazing how fast information moves from mauka to makai, the grapevine is very well connected on this island. This connectedness is accelerated by social media. Where once you would have to wait hours or days for official confirmation, or a newspaper report, we now know immediately.

There are specific places everyone goes for this type of informations. Two notable Facebook groups cover island happenings, Big Island Thieves and Big Island Popo Alert.

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A Media Symposium

A substantial portion of my life is now online. In addition to my writing and photography here, I read a number of other blogs. Indeed, much of my view of the world comes from the wide variety of information sources I consume.

The era of a few authoritative news sources (newspapers, network TV, etc.) serving large segments of the public is gone. Perhaps, while this may still be true for the generations of folks who grew up with this arrangement, it is certainly not true for younger generations who have become accustom to the wide variety of information sources available today. We select our news and information sources from a bewildering array of choices. Who we are is reflected in what sources we choose.

In addition to utilizing these new services, an increasing number of people choose to contribute to the dialog. Through removing the traditional barriers, technology allows anyone to begin publishing. Websites and blogs, social networks and video services, permit any voice to be heard, widely distributed and shared with a worldwide audience.

Many news organizations are struggling to come to grips with this new model of information. This was the theme of today’s symposium. A day of seminars and discussions into this new world of journalism.

Panel Discussion
A panel discussion taking place at the UH Media Symposium, with Ian Lind, Andy Parx and John Temple
Assembled by the journalism department at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, the symposium brought together journalists and bloggers from across the state. An impressive array of names, with many of the most notable figures in Hawaiian media. Together in the same room to discuss a wide variety of issues facing the news business today.

Along with the discussions there were a number of seminars on media basics. A welcome opportunity for a rank amateur such as myself. Unfortunately these were all too brief, as we hurried from room to room through a day packed with events.

A number of the presenters brought their personal experience of living through the tumult of this transition. Folks who had pursued careers in traditional journalism, now finding themselves having to adapt to new media, and new business models. Lives upended by change, stories of loss, and how they are coping, or even taking advantage of the new opportunities. More importantly, as they enter into this new era they have attempted to bring with them the core values of traditional media, of integrity and pursuit of the story.

I may be a mere blogger, but there is always something to learn. Particularly when offered an opportunity like this symposium. I spent today learning. Learning about the business of journalism. Exploring the issues involved with providing an indispensable public service. And seeing, if dimly, where we may be going as a society. A society defined by information and what we do with that information.

(My thanks to Tiffany, who spearheaded this event. She was everywhere and kept everything moving. Well done!)