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Summit, not sun and fun, making the news

By Rob Perez

LAST UPDATED: 4:01 a.m. HST, Nov 12, 2011

In between churning out a steady stream of commerce-related stories, journalist Stone Liu plans to write about his impressions of Hawaii and its people.

Liu is editor in chief of the Los Angeles-based China Press, one of the largest Chinese-language daily newspapers in the United States.

He is among the more than 1,250 journalists here to chronicle the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Like most of the other reporters and editors, Liu's coverage will focus on the substance of the meetings: trade-related developments among high-level dignitaries from Asia and the Pacific.

But Liu, a first-time visitor to the islands, also wants to give his paper's roughly 100,000 subscribers a glimpse of Hawaii beyond the official venues.

"It seems more Americanized than cities in California," he said Friday, his third day on Oahu.

Leading up to the largest international event ever held in Hawaii, APEC planners said they expected roughly 2,000 journalists from dozens of countries, including such faraway places as Germany and Croatia, to put the international spotlight on the islands.

The number of media representatives who had picked up their credentials as of Friday was well below that level, but their work was showing up in newspapers, on broadcasts and in other venues around the world.

As of Friday afternoon nearly 2,000 hits registered when searching Google News with the words "APEC" and "Hawaii."

Many of the stories focused on trade and economics, the type of bone-dry coverage in which the backdrop is but a meeting place, bereft of the picture-postcard images that bring cheer and smiles to Hawaii tourism promoters.

Satoko Shimbori, the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for TV Asahi, one of Japan's five major networks, said her team of seven journalists here for APEC was focusing exclusively on the push for a free-trade pact -- known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- for the region. Japan's decision this week to join the talks has become a huge and controversial issue in that country.

"It's like everything else gets washed away," Shimbori said, explaining why her network wasn't planning to do general stories about Hawaii. "We focus on TPP."

Other journalists interviewed by the Star-Advertiser likewise said their main focus was APEC business, not travel or general-interest pieces about the islands.

Yet postcard images still punctuated some of the coverage.

Al Jazeera, a Middle East news network, featured a nearly three-minute online video focusing on an anti-APEC meeting about the indigenous stewardship of Hawaii's land and resources. The video included footage of ukulele players, taro patches and beaches.

On the website of the National Post, an English-language newspaper published in Canada, an image of surfers, beachgoers and a sailboat silhouetted by a brilliant setting sun off Waikiki was the lead picture Thursday on its "Photos of the Day" feature. The temperature that day in Don Mills, Toronto, where the Post is based, dipped into the 30s.

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