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.

Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Says Rural Telecom Provider Must Respond To Consumer Advocate Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Says Rural Telecom Provider Must Respond To Consumer Advocate

But Sandwich Isles Communications says the state agency is on a “witch hunt” and is resisting providing information about its financial status.

Big Island Prosecutor’s Alleged Harassment Dates Back Years Office of the Prosecuting Attorney's Facebook page

Big Island Prosecutor’s Alleged Harassment Dates Back Years

In addition to an ongoing harassment dispute with his Paukaa neighbor, deputy prosecutor Winston Albright had allegedly harassed neighbors in the Puna District where he previously lived.

Hawaii County Council: Big Island Voters Choose New Faces Tim Wright/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii County Council: Big Island Voters Choose New Faces

Jennifer Kagiwada and Matthias Kusch were in a tight race for District 2, and will face each other in a November runoff.

ʻO Hawaiʻi Wale Nō Ka Mokuʻāina E Noi ʻOle Ana I Ke Kālā Pekelala E Hoʻoneʻe Aku I Nā Kamaʻāina I Uka O Ka Wai Hālana Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

ʻO Hawaiʻi Wale Nō Ka Mokuʻāina E Noi ʻOle Ana I Ke Kālā Pekelala E Hoʻoneʻe Aku I Nā Kamaʻāina I Uka O Ka Wai Hālana

Hiki i ka polokalamu ʻo FEMA ke kōkua ma ka ʻino ʻana aʻe o ka pōpilikia aniau. Akā, he pono ka ʻike leʻa ʻana o ka lehulehu i ua polokalamu nei a e hoʻopio i nā kānāwai kūkulu kahiko loa a me nā kumukūʻai ʻāina pipiʻi loa.

Big Island Deputy Prosecutor Ordered To Stop Alleged Harassment Office of the Prosecuting Attorney's Facebook page

Big Island Deputy Prosecutor Ordered To Stop Alleged Harassment

A judge has summoned Randall Winston “Bew” Albright to appear in court and answer complaints that he’s been allegedly intimidating his neighbor.

Hawaii Is The Only State Not Seeking Federal Buyouts To Move Residents Away From Floods Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii Is The Only State Not Seeking Federal Buyouts To Move Residents Away From Floods

The FEMA program could help as the climate crisis worsens. But the public would have to know it exists and overcome outdated building codes and high property values.

Candidates Seeking Big Island House Seat Differ On Style, Campaign Fundraising April Estrellon/Civil Beat/2022

Candidates Seeking Big Island House Seat Differ On Style, Campaign Fundraising

Incumbent Chris Todd and his opponent, Shannon Matson, have a lot in common but there are some things that set them apart.

Three More People Indicted In $10.9M Big Island Housing Conspiracy Case Tim Wright/Civil Beat/2021

Three More People Indicted In $10.9M Big Island Housing Conspiracy Case

Following last week’s guilty plea by a former Big Island county housing official, federal authorities accused three more people of participating in a multimillion dollar affordable housing scheme.