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Today I am proud to announce that Civil Beat and The Huffington Post are partnering to create a new section of Huffington Post that is dedicated to Hawaii. This new section will complement CivilBeat.com’s current site, and enable us to expand our mission to serve all parts of Hawaii’s community. The new HuffPost Hawaii site will bring the vast array of all that Hawaii has to offer through its culture, natural beauty and hospitality to the 75 million monthly visitors of Huffington Post.
Simply put, CivilBeat.com will continue doing what it’s been doing for three years: public affairs and investigative journalism. And this fall, we will launch the new site featuring a broad array of content curated for Hawaii and those interested in our state.
When we started Civil Beat three years ago, we wanted to create a news organization that would help Hawaii ask and begin to answer the most important questions facing our community. We were concerned about the decline in the number of reporters and editors focused on covering the public’s business, and we were convinced that there were many untold stories about how Hawaii operates.
Since then we have created the largest newsroom dedicated to Hawaii public affairs and published thousands of stories. In the process we have uncovered many aspects of our public life that could be improved. Most recently our four-part series exposed the little-known challenges caused by poor planning in the development and maintenance of the Ala Wai Canal, and the risks they pose to one of the most important engines of the state’s economy, Waikiki. Through our investigative series on the lack of public oversight over police misconduct we found serious gaps in legislators’ and the public’s knowledge of criminal offenders within police ranks. We brought to light contracting problems with state school bus services that caused costs to skyrocket to more than $70 million, made worse by a lack of proper oversight.
We pursue these investigations not because we want to make our leaders look bad. We do them because we want to challenge our leaders to do better. The role of a properly functioning news enterprise in a democracy is just that: to keep an eye on those who have the public’s trust, to ensure they are not abusing that trust, and to ensure they are proper stewards of that trust and the public’s resources.
We also believe that the broader public has a critical role to play in moving our society forward. It’s not enough for just a few people to be aware of the problems, or to rely on public officials to address the challenges we face without community engagement. We need a vibrant civic square, where representatives of all parts of our community are engaging, debating and discovering the best solutions.
Through Civil Beat’s Community Voices and our integrated Facebook comments, we have brought many respected and diverse voices into the conversation, in a way that reflects the growth of social media and the changing news habits of our community.
That’s one reason why we are partnering with Huffington Post. No one has done a better job than they have to bring highly respected and diverse voices into the civic conversation through their blogger’s network. And depending on which Internet traffic measures you look at, no dedicated media organization garners as much worldwide visitor traffic as they do. Not CNN, not New York Times, not Fox, not anyone. And unlike high-traffic news aggregators like Google and Yahoo News, they pursue their own original reporting, for which they were awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2012.
Being the world’s most visited dedicated media organization with the most diverse and respected commentary brings an unprecedented audience to the important civic conversations of our time.
It is conversations like these that will enrich Hawaii’s understanding of our own challenges, and it is this unprecedented audience that will be exposed to all that Hawaii has to offer.
Naturally, any partnership has to make financial sense for both parties. We are dedicated to the proposition that public interest news can be financially self-sustaining. Through this partnership and a new dedicated staff, we will be able to bring a new focus to Hawaii’s culture, well-being and lifestyle, leisure and hospitality, as well as the arts and entertainment. These new content areas will allow us to showcase Hawaii’s brands to a highly engaged global audience.
In the time I’ve spent with Arianna Huffington, I’ve found her to be an inspiring and visionary voice on how the media can transform people’s lives, combining entertainment, enrichment and reporting on important national and international news. It is this unique combination of content and community that has propelled Huffington Post to its award-winning and leading position among global news brands. And it is this that Civil Beat is bringing to Hawaii.
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