Civil Beat has expanded its editorial staff again with a new investigative reporter and a full-time editorial writer.
The new faces are part of our effort to bolster serious journalism in Hawaii — reporting and writing that takes a deeper and more meaningful look at the important issues facing the state in order to help make a Hawaii a better place to live.
In just a few months, Civil Beat will be 5 years old. We’ve been looking back at what we’ve accomplished in the last few years with an eye toward how we can sharpen that effort moving forward.
There’s no question that Civil Beat has had an impact in Hawaii. Our stories have led to a more robust community debate on important public policy issues. Our work is often cited in political and civic circles and picked up by local as well as national media. Our reporting is written into legislation as the basis for reform efforts that are taking place.
Now, we’re ramping up a bit more with the addition of accomplished journalists who can help lead the discussion on things that matter in Hawaii.
Opinion Editor Todd Simmons, left, and investigative reporter Rui Kaneya in Civil Beat’s newsroom.
Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat
Rui Kaneya is a veteran investigative reporter who joins us after more than a decade as a writer and editor with the Chicago Reporter, a nonprofit investigative magazine that focuses on social justice issues. His work has included an emphasis on police corruption and problems in the criminal court system, projects that won regional and national awards.
Rui spent the last year as a regional reporter for the Columbia Journalism Review, a top journalism professional magazine, writing about journalism developments, trends and ethics in media. And he continues to lend a hand as a teacher and mentor to high school students interested in going into journalism.
He was born and raised in Japan and is a fluent Japanese-speaker. His family still lives in the Yokohama area. Rui moved to the U.S. in 1994 to attend college on a soccer scholarship and settled in the Chicago area. He’s probably one of the few 6-foot 4-inch tall Japanese guys you’ll see in Honolulu.
Rui has already dived into the deep end of our proverbial political pool here in Hawaii — this past week he broke a story about U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s decision to hire a political neophyte as her new chief of staff. That story as well as a follow-up piece has gone viral, with hundreds of people in Hawaii and on the mainland discussing it and sharing it on Facebook and Twitter.
Rui is still finding his footing in Hawaii, of course, but he’s hoping to bring his social justice sensibilities to bear on issues like Hawaii’s diverse culture and ethnic mix, our immigrant population and human trafficking, and economic discrimination, among many others. You can reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @ruikaneya.
Hawaii residents may already be familiar with Todd Simmons. Todd joins Civil Beat as its new — and first ever — Opinion Editor to help lead a higher level of debate and discussion on important issues.
Todd spent two years as vice president for marketing and communications at Hawaii Pacific University, where he did quite a lot of business and community outreach on behalf of the college.
Most recently, Todd has been executive director of of Equality Hawaii, the state’s largest LGBT organization. In that position, he has put in considerable time meeting with lawmakers and community leaders.
But before he got into the communications and nonprofit world, he was a newspaper man. He has written for five newspapers, including stints as an editorial writer and editorial board member for The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., and as a political writer for The Tampa Tribune. He was a contributing author to the book, “Witness to Revolution: The Advocate reports on Gay and Lesbian Politics, 1967-1999.”
Todd holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, and a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Florida. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education Institute for Educational Management.
Todd lives with his husband and two sons in Hawaii Kai.
We think Todd’s work in educational and political circles positions him well to play a leading role in the online civic square we have developed and nurtured here at Civil Beat. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Another recent hire is Cory Lum, a talented local photographer who had been shooting for us part-time for a while. Cory joined us as a full-time photographer late last year.
He’s a former staff photographer for the Honolulu Advertiser who has had an extensive freelance career in Hawaii and Japan, shooting for the New York Times and numerous other national and international publications.
As a head’s up, we’re also on the verge of filling our education reporter spot, a position that has been open since Alia Wong moved on to be an education editor at The Atlantic magazine in Washington, D.C.
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Patti Epler is the Editor and General Manager of Civil Beat. She's been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, primarily in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington and Arizona. You can follow her on twitter at @PattiEpler, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 808-377-0561.