When we introduced Civil Beat, I think there were a lot of questions about the kind of news we’d be delivering.

Our daily work, as I wrote in my introductory piece, “A new approach to Journalism,” is to “ask the important questions citizens might have in the face of the complex issues facing our community.”

I hope you’re starting to see that we can bring our probing approach to daily reporting, and do it with personality and color. In this piece, I’d like to share how we’ve evolved and how our changes are visible in different ways on the site.

Katherine Poythress‘ special report, A Tale of 2 Schools, on high school graduation is a good example. Every year, we go through the heart-warming ritual. But what does it tell us about our schools? Katherine brought members inside the events at two very different schools and showed what graduation can tell us about what leads to high student achievement.

Another example came in the coverage by Chad Blair and Noelle Chun of the 1st Congressional District special election. In that case, Chad not only revealed before the voting had even closed how the biggest victory in the election might have been for mail-in voting, but he also covered the vote live on Saturday night, using Twitter and our website. Then he came back with another story, looking ahead to what’s in store for the victor, Charles Djou, while Noelle provided insight into the cost of the election and who got the most bang for the buck. In other words, the kind of insightful reporting I had promised, applied to news, not just policy articles.

A third example is Furlough Fridays. We went deep in exploring how the state got into this mess. But when there was breaking news, Katherine was all over it, explaining why the developments were significant. This approach will continue this weekend, as we cover the Democratic State Convention. Tomorrow we’ll have a fascinating story about how ugly the race got the last time Mufi Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie faced off in an election.

We’ll continue to develop our approach to news, just as we’ve been exploring how to highlight the value of our member comments. In my introductory article, I wrote: “We believe conversation and civil debate with our reporter-hosts and with other members is central to what will make Civil Beat valuable.”

We haven’t been disappointed. We’ve seen a very high level of comments, with new information and fresh perspectives about issues we’re writing about. To highlight that aspect of the site, we’ve now made it possible for you to link directly to comments. If you click on the time stamp on any comment, you’ll open a window displaying that comment all by itself, and you can share that link with anyone. In this way, we’re making member comments even more visible.

I also want to let you know that two reporter-hosts, Katherine Nichols and Treena Shapiro, are no longer with Civil Beat. We thank them for being the first reporter-hosts on the Money and Honolulu beats, respectively. We wish them well. Noelle Chun will continue to be your Money beat host, and I’ll be your interim Honolulu beat host.

These developments are all part of the evolution of a new news service. We’re adding guest contributors and bringing on new staff. I’ll continue to keep you informed about how we’re moving forward at Civil Beat. We continue to be excited about the beats we’re covering and how we’re doing the work. We hope you feel the same way.

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