You might start seeing a lot of new bylines in Civil Beat.

That’s because we’re partnering with the University of Hawaii Manoa journalism program this semester to cover the 2022 legislative session. Our reporters will still be covering the session, of course, but we’re giving UH students enrolled in a capstone course some space to publish their work. You can find those stories — including some from opening day — in a new section on our website called “The UH Beat.”

We’re working with Brett Oppegaard, a professor in the journalism program and the instructor for this course, the UH student newspaper Ka Leo O Hawaii, and its editor Krista Rados (who is also enrolled in the class) to introduce students to the journalist’s real world of tight deadlines, demanding editors and sources who may not call them back in time.

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I’ll be helping shepherd the students through the session as they cover bills and hearings and learn how to navigate Hawaii’s sometimes byzantine bureaucracies.

This class won’t only be covering issues of importance to UH. These 15 students are taking on a variety of topics including agriculture, criminal justice, transportation, public lands and health. For many of these students, this will be their first foray into covering public policy and government.

Most of these students are seniors, and the goal is for them to have a handful of published stories that will be important when they search for jobs after graduation.

Their first assignment was to write a preview of issues that could crop up on their beat during this legislative session.

Some highlights from this first round of stories:

  • Nathan Bek reported that a public agency in charge of dealing with wildfires may get additional funding as those types of disasters become more prevalent due to climate change.
  • Maria Medina found that lawmakers are trying to work out a compromise to pass reforms for Hawaii’s civil asset forfeiture program, which has been roundly criticized by criminal justice advocates and many legislators.
  • And Krista Rados is highlighting proposals on Molokai that seek to get more jobs for residents, on an island that has been plagued by high unemployment for years.

These are just some examples of what these students have produced so far. There’s more on the “UH Beat” page, and many more to come throughout the session. These stories will also be appearing on Ka Leo’s website and in the publication’s monthly print editions.

Got any feedback? See a mistake? Want to tell these students how great they’re doing? Let us know at news@civilbeat.org or email editor@kaleo.org.

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