Week 12: Life at Civil Beat Gets Even More Interesting
It's amazing to be inside a start-up news service and see how much it can develop in the course of a week. I remember when my kids were young and how we sometimes felt like we could see them grow. I feel the same way at Civil Beat, where this week we went deep on renewable energy, rocked on the mayor's and governor's races and launched an exciting new project involving the authors of a new book of essays, "The Value of Hawaii."
Every week at Civil Beat, it feels like we have more balls in the air.
The content, and comments, on our news service are becoming more varied — and interesting. I remember when my kids were young and we felt like we could literally see them grow. I have a similar feeling inside the Civil Beat newsroom today. Something I’ve never seen is developing before my very eyes.
Here are just a few examples that I hope you noticed this week.
Renewable energy is all the rage. Politicians bemoan our dependence on oil. But doing something about it isn’t quite so simple. On Tuesday we launched a series on “Big Wind,” the state’s largest proposed renewable energy project. It’s big, and it’s complex. Contributing writer Catharine Lo produced the kind of original, thoughtful report we want you to come to expect from us. In addition to her articles, she wrote a topic page that we hope becomes a resource for you over the next few months and years. Our Land reporter, Michael Levine, supported the effort by creating new topic pages on Energy in Hawaii and Climate Change. It’s worth checking out the discussion that grew out of her articles, a living example of how much we can learn from one another. I want to make sure you know that it was also encouraging how members suggested how to upgrade our topic pages and fine-tune the accuracy of our articles, just the way we hope you’ll do.
The political season is picking up. The resignation of Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and all the election events it set into motion was probably the big story of the week. We stress at Civil Beat that we’re focused on local issues, not events. That doesn’t mean we don’t cover the news. But we cover it through a different prism. Take the mayoral election, for example. Traditional news organizations typically tell you what happened. At Civil Beat we’re trying to help you understand what’s happening and why. Check out reporter Adrienne LaFrance‘s account of how the choice of a date for the mayoral election could help determine the outcome. Adrienne also broke the story that the attorney general is pursuing a criminal investigation into mayoral candidate Rod Tam‘s spending as a city councilman. And she provided a roadmap for what it has taken to get to the mayor’s office, another example of Civil Beat reporting that goes further. Our Chad Blair gave a fascinating account of the mayor’s final days and how he became a press release machine, even going so far as to run the same quote in different press releases, and he shared his unique voice in his take on the three leading governor candidates’ first appearance together.
Monday we launch a new series, based on a book just out from the University of Hawaii Press, “The Value of Hawaii.” We’ll be excerpting a different essay from the book on the critical issues facing the state every Monday between now and the general election. The authors have all agreed to participate in the discussions of their topics. So this will be a chance for you to engage with a whole new set of writers, and to meet with them in person as well as online. We’ll be holding Beatups in our headquarters where you’ll be able to discuss the issues with them. To read more about this project, I hope you’ll look over the article we published Friday. On Monday, you’ll find an essay by one of the book’s editors, Craig Howes, in which he explains the three major themes that emerged in the essays; an essay on Hawaii government by our Chad Blair; and a personal account of the project and where it fits into the Hawaii debate, also by Chad.
There’s much to read from last week, and much to look forward to in the coming week. That’s the way it should be.
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