I was an enemy of the people.

Perhaps I should explain.

For over 22 years, I worked as a freelance journalist. The vast bulk of those years were spent writing in and working in Hawaii. I also lived and worked in Seattle and Los Angeles as a freelance writer and journalist in the past.

I wrote for a number of publications. I won’t bore you with a long list but here are a few: Honolulu Weekly, Pacific Business News, Hawaii Magazine, Edible Hawaiian Islands. I briefly worked as a staff writer for The Molokai Dispatch in 2008.

When I first began working as a professional writer in 1994,  Hillary Clinton was First Lady and Donald Trump was a businessman.

There were no blogs, no news sites and no podcasts. A fact was a fact and did not have alternatives and news was considered news. The modifier fake was attached to a number of things — money, food, body parts — but never news.

We now live in a different world than the one I started working in as a journalist. After 22 years of writing for newspapers and magazines, I opted last month to call it a career.

Now, I have to admit, my decision wasn’t based on the fact the number of professionals working in the news business here in Hawaii has shrunken over the past few years or that there hasn’t been an alternative newspaper here on Oahu since the Honolulu Weekly shut down  a couple of years ago or that real solid hard news outlets — both print and online — are few and far between not only on Oahu but throughout the state of Hawaii. I actually had intended to retire in 2015 but postponed it for a couple of years and thought this year was the right time.

However, what I just noted previously about the news business locally should be of concern to anyone who feels a solid news media and local journalism industry is important to the social, economic and political well being of any municipality and state.

Part of the reason I have contributed a few op-ed articles in the past to Civil Beat is that Civil Beat seems the only news outlet in Hawaii that is willing and able to cover the news that doesn’t get reported by the TV news stations and other newspapers. Civil Beat is doing the kind of old fashioned, plow through the records and documents, call it like it is kind of journalism that is sadly lacking in this state most of the time.

News outlets like Civil Beat are important not only locally but nationally at a time when journalists of all kinds — not only staff reporters but freelancers like me — are being openly targeted and vilified by a new administration in the White House who are openly using the playbook of Richard Nixon to falsely, deceitfully and disgustingly paint the press and news media as “enemies” of the American people.

This thus makes me at this point an Ex-Enemy of the people, I assume. Maybe Enemy Emeritus.

We also have a climate created by technologies such as the internet in which certain parties think they can discredit reporters through the creation of so-called “news sites” like Breitbart which is to news what fast food is to good nutrition. Not to mention a number of blogs run by a number of “citizen journalists” — in other words, incompetent people unfit to be hired by real news organizations, TV and Radio stations and publications — who preen and pose as if they actually know something about gathering and reporting news. Much like the political party of old, they are know-nothings.

Finally, we have the online “news” personalities. Tami Lehren who began her career on The Blaze is one example. The young woman’s commentaries have all the wit of a comedy club heckler and the substance of a high school drop out. Her newfound stardom — including appearances on “The Daily Show” and “Real Time” — mark her as a blonde, female, post modern Chauncey Gardner.

These developments have worked against the honest reporters and dedicated journalists attempting to do their jobs not only in Washington but throughout the country. These professionals — whether they work for The New York Times or Los Angeles Times, CNN or MSNBC, National Public Radio or Pacifica Radio — deserve better than to be accused of dishonesty from an administration that is run by a man who is a systematic liar.

In the end, I can’t say I’m unhappy to retire from freelancing in an increasingly volatile and hostile environment for journalists across the nation. I’m still a writer of course and maybe I will work on a book or two in my down time. I also intend to write the occasional op-ed piece here for Civil Beat. However it’s certainly the end of my career as a newsman.

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a current photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

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