Here at Civil Beat, impact is what drives us, and our ultimate goal is to make Hawaii a better place to live.
Major change doesn’t happen overnight, but after eight years in the Aloha State, we’re making progress. The close of 2018 seems like a good time to reflect on some of our recent stories that made national headlines, held the powerful accountable and, most importantly, impacted Hawaii.
They’re worth a second look.
We couldn’t have accomplished so much this year without readers’ help. Nearly 3,000 Civil Beat donors now support our nonprofit newsroom with their contributions. What follows is evidence that these donations are making a difference.
Don’t see your favorite story of the year on this list? Post the headline in the comments at the bottom of the article.
This special project dove deep into Hawaii’s preparedness for natural disasters. It was published in the wake of Hurricane Lane which, had it not mostly dissipated before reaching Oahu, could have been a catastrophic event.
In “Are We Ready?” reporter Marcel Honore explored the worst-case scenarios for Hawaii, and what’s being done to prepare for them.
Aaron Salazar boarded an Amtrak train bound for Portland in May, but never made it to his destination. Instead, he was found unconscious alongside railroad tracks in California. Police said that Salazar jumped off the train in an attempted suicide. Salazar’s family said there’s no way he would have done that — they suspect he was the target of a hate crime because he is gay. And Salazar himself, who recently regained his ability to speak, says he didn’t jump.
Reporter Brittany Lyte interviewed investigators, Amtrak officials and Salazar’s family about the mystery. Four days after the story was published, the FBI stepped into the investigation.
When a hurricane plowed through the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, tiny East Island was washed away. Drone photos obtained by Civil Beat revealed the shocking extent of the damage. The story was picked up by dozens of national media outlets.
Just after the story broke, we published “The Shark Chasers” a multimedia project that explained how vital a habitat East Island was for animals like tiger sharks, green sea turtles and albatross.
Civil Beat secured a major victory for government transparency just last week when the Hawaii Supreme Court issued a ruling that overturned the strategy behind 30 years of government secrecy.
The case stemmed from a public records request that reporter Nick Grube filed in 2015 to gain access to city budget documents. Civil Beat mounted a legal challenge when Honolulu rejected our information request and the denial was upheld by the state Office of Information Practices.
The high court invalidated the most common excuse government agencies have used for decades to deny access to public records: that they were subject to the “deliberative process privilege.”
It’s a big win for journalism in Hawaii, but a bigger win for the public.
In season 3 of the Offshore podcast, our team followed a young man on the journey of a lifetime. Adopted as a baby from the Marshall Islands, London Lewis found himself wondering about his birthplace and his birth family.
Civil Beat reporters helped Lewis connect the dots, bringing him closer to finding answers with each episode.
After seeing Micronesian people on social media sharing their personal stories of discrimination and racism using the hashtag #BeingMicronesian, reporter Anita Hofschneider looked into Hawaii’s often-overlooked racial tension.
Hofschneider was born and raised on the Micronesian island of Saipan, and her personal connection brought depth to the piece. Following the original story, which was widely read and shared, Hofschneider penned a powerful “Behind The Story” article explaining why she felt it was important.
The #MeToo movement has sparked a national conversation about sexual harassment. In Hawaii, women came forward to tell Civil Beat their stories of alleged sexual harassment by powerful public officials, including the late Sen. Dan Inouye and former Hawaii House Speaker Joe Souki.
Our 2018 primary and general election coverage included candidate Q&A’s from every candidate in the state who responded to our invitation to answer questions. In the final days before the primary and general elections, readers flocked to the Q&A’s and our elections guide before casting their ballots.
We also provided nonpartisan analysis of major and minor races, hosted in-person events and launched a new video series, Hawaii Civics 101, to make learning about Hawaii’s wonky politics a little easier.