Mahalo to the many who have shared their thoughts on the site, either in our discussions or in our Community Voices section.
And most of all, mahalo to our subscribers for supporting what in the spring of 2010 sounded to many like a foreign concept, a local news site devoted to watchdog reporting and civil dialogue — paid for by its readers.
At that time, neither The New York Times nor The Honolulu Star-Advertiser had put up pay walls yet. And, frankly, people in Hawaii weren’t clear about what Civil Beat was, what we hoped to deliver or why Civil Beat might be valuable.
When our reporter-hosts initially called news sources, they often had to spend 10-minutes explaining where they worked and what Civil Beat was. They found that the best shorthand description was that Civil Beat was a local news service launched by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who lives in Honolulu.
Two years later, we almost never have to explain who we are. People know our Fact Checks and our Civil Beat polls. They’ve seen the way we publish public documents.
Now we hear lawmakers at the Hawaii Legislature regularly citing our reporting. We see Honolulu rail critics and proponents react to our work. And we know politicians will respond to our polls, especially if they don’t like the way the numbers look.
I feel fortunate to have been asked by Pierre and Civil Beat’s co-founder Randy Ching to join the news site as its first editor. It’s been a richly rewarding experience for me, largely because so many in Hawaii have been so open and welcoming. I don’t believe I have to tell you how special a place this is, how complex and fascinating, how full of life lessons.
Now I am leaving, carrying what I’ve learned here to take on a new challenge I couldn’t pass up. I will be a managing editor of The Washington Post, one of America’s storied journalism organizations. There I’ll oversee the departments that predominantly serve the Washington, D.C. area and act as the newsroom’s senior digital editor.
This new job is in part a commentary on what we’ve accomplished at Civil Beat. What began with just a few of us in a room with laptops and iPhones today is followed across the country by many concerned about the future of journalism.
While Civil Beat did start with just a few people backed by Pierre, today I believe the project is in the hands of many. A news organization like Civil Beat, or The Washington Post for that matter, depends on the community it serves.
Yes, the journalists led by Deputy Editor Patti Epler and Assistant Editor Sara Lin, will continue to invent how they do their jobs to best serve you. And our business team, led by Operations Director Heidi Pliszka, will continue to look for new ways to build the business.
But theirs is only part of the story of Civil Beat in coming years. The rest of the story is the community. It is you. And how you make Civil Beat your own.
I believe you are key to helping carry forward the mission of making sure people in Hawaii are informed about important issues. I believe you are key in making sure we have a place where people in Hawaii can debate important issues in a civil way.
My hope is that we have done enough to earn your trust and support, that you will help spread Civil Beat’s story, that you will find ways to back what we’ve started, because you’ve seen that Hawaii is a better place with Civil Beat than without it.
Civil Beat started with just a few of us and a vision. I know the team here will do everything in its power to continue to serve you even better. My hope is that you will do what you can to help keep the vision alive, to help it become even brighter, to help make this state an even better place.
A hui hou.
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