Civil Beat Staff

Paula Dobbyn

Paula Dobbyn joined Civil Beat in February 2022. She’s a longtime Alaska journalist who previously worked in Washington, D.C., Boston, and Central America.

After graduating from Hampshire College with a political science degree, Paula began her journalism career in Nicaragua during the 1980s, covering the U.S.-backed war against the Sandinista revolutionary government. She freelanced from Managua as a radio reporter for AP Broadcast, ABC Radio, Radio Netherlands and other international outlets, occasionally venturing to El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica on reporting assignments.

With a ceasefire in place between the Contras and the Sandinistas and the war winding down, Paula returned to the U.S. She worked an overnight shift at the AP Broadcast Center in Washington, D.C., turning wire copy into newscast scripts for radio stations across the country. She moved on to Boston for a staff position at Monitor Radio, the (now-defunct) broadcast arm of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Christian Science Monitor newspaper.

Paula used her radio skills at the Monitor as a newscaster, producer and editor for five years. She also produced news and feature stories for Monitor Television.

In what has become a lifelong quest for adventure, Paula moved to Juneau, Alaska, in 1994 for a reporting job at KTOO, the public radio station in the state’s capital. For the next four years, she covered a wide range of stories involving Alaska’s contentious commercial fishing industry, clear-cut logging of the region’s coastal temperate rainforest, battles over the regulation of foreign flagged cruise ships and an ever-burgeoning tourism industry, and the complex and often opaque operations of Alaska’s congressionally created Native corporations.

Seeking a reprieve from the Tongass National Forest’s torrential rainfall, Paula left Juneau for a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder. During the fellowship, Paula studied public lands law, federal Indian law and creative nonfiction. After drying out in the Colorado sunshine for that year, Paula returned to Alaska for a reporting position at the Anchorage Daily News where she covered timber, tourism, commercial fishing and Alaska Native corporations, among other topics. After seven years at the Daily News and with the newspaper industry starting to shed jobs, Paula headed to Ireland to study human rights law. She graduated with her master’s degree from a cross-border program run by Queen’s University Belfast and National University of Ireland at Galway.

After becoming a mother following graduate school, Paula worked in communications for the more regular hours and flexibility those positions offered. But journalism is Paula’s first love and the pull of storytelling lured her back to the newsroom. In recent years, Paula has worked as a senior digital reporter at Alaska’s News Source covering breaking news and enterprise stories, and as a grant-funded reporter on the homelessness beat for the Anchorage Daily News. She has also taught journalism as an adjunct professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage and does freelance magazine writing as time allows.

Besides journalism and writing, Paula is also passionate about yoga, diving and her family. She’s looking forward to exploring Hawaii’s dive sites and getting her two young daughters certified in scuba. Paula’s husband is a wildlife biologist. Her family, including two standard poodles, are excited to be making the Big Island of Hawaii their new home. Paula is thrilled to be at Civil Beat and welcomes your story ideas. Find her on Twitter and Facebook or drop her an email at pdobbyn@civilbeat.org.

Police Report: Mom Says Big Island Prosecutor Threatened To Shoot Her Son County Prosecuting Attorney Office Facebook

Police Report: Mom Says Big Island Prosecutor Threatened To Shoot Her Son

A number of neighbors have had issues with the deputy prosecutor, Winston Albright, but he has kept his job as the cases get dismissed or resolved behind closed doors.

Hawaii County: Voters Elect New Council Member, Adopt 3 Charter Amendments Tim Wright/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii County: Voters Elect New Council Member, Adopt 3 Charter Amendments

Voters overwhelmingly passed charter amendments to expand the ethics board, strengthen the auditor’s office and create a youth commission.

A Big Island Business Group Is Putting On A Drag Show Despite The Handful Of Haters Courtesy: Honokaa Business Association

A Big Island Business Group Is Putting On A Drag Show Despite The Handful Of Haters

Honokaa Business Association members were shocked by “hurtful and scary” emails, but they say the fundraiser will go on as planned.

Settlement Reached In Maui Light Pollution Case Over Endangered Seabirds Courtesy: DLNR/Jim Denny

Settlement Reached In Maui Light Pollution Case Over Endangered Seabirds

Grand Wailea has agreed to take protective measures, including dimming and adjusting its lights.

E Kauoha ʻIa ʻO Maui E Hoʻopio I Ka Ipu Kukui O Waho I Mea E Kiaʻi Ai I Ka Holoholona ʻĀhiu Courtesy: Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project

E Kauoha ʻIa ʻO Maui E Hoʻopio I Ka Ipu Kukui O Waho I Mea E Kiaʻi Ai I Ka Holoholona ʻĀhiu

Ua ʻāpono ʻia ke kānāwai ma muli o nā hopohopo i ka hoʻohuikau ʻia ʻana o nā manu kai a me nā honu e nā kukui kahakai. 

Judge Rejects Couple’s Request For Extended TRO Against Deputy Prosecutor County Prosecuting Attorney Office Facebook

Judge Rejects Couple’s Request For Extended TRO Against Deputy Prosecutor

Big Island Deputy Prosecutor Randall Winston Albright succeeded in having a judge toss out a temporary restraining order against him and his wife for alleged harassment of their neighbors.

Federal Officials Order Closure Of 3 Big Island Cesspools Courtesy: Surfrider Foundation

Federal Officials Order Closure Of 3 Big Island Cesspools

Despite a 2005 ban on large-capacity cesspools, hundreds remain in operation in Hawaii.

Should Cost Of Maui County Charter Amendments Be Made Public Before Election Day? Ludwig Laab/Civil Beat/2021

Should Cost Of Maui County Charter Amendments Be Made Public Before Election Day?

Voters will decide on a proposal that would require the county auditor to calculate cost estimates of proposed charter amendments before they go on the ballot.

Hu Honua Says It Can’t Afford To Ride ‘Merry-Go-Round’ Any Longer Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Hu Honua Says It Can’t Afford To Ride ‘Merry-Go-Round’ Any Longer

The embattled bioenergy plant on Hawaii island’s windward side is back before the state Supreme Court asking for relief.