comscore Making sense of island politics is still our goal | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Editorial | On Politics

Making sense of island politics is still our goal

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Within hours of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin presses roared, firing out more than 250,000 copies of the paper.

"Honolulu needed newspapers that day as desperately as famished people needed food," wrote then-publisher Joseph Farrington.

Yes, a lot has changed since World War II, but the need for your daily newspaper has not.

How is it going to work out with just one major daily in the state? What happens with political coverage, what happens to politicians, political parties and political causes?

Politicians and political advisers say even in the Internet age, the newspaper, especially if there is only one, will be relevant.

"It is going to be the only game in town. It is going to be hyper-relevant," says Senate President and candidate for Congress Colleen Hanabusa.

Bloggers and the Civil Beat, the web page that charges for viewing, are options and politicians such as state Rep. Della Au Bellati are watching them carefully. But, nothing sets the local news agenda like a front-page newspaper headline.

Our task at the Star-Advertiser doesn’t change, except to get sharper.

This is the biggest year of political change Hawaii will see in a decade, because by December voters will have selected a new governor and new mayors for Honolulu, Maui and Kauai. There’s even a heated race for Congress.

Local politics are in transition, Republicans are questioning whether the Obama tidal wave will come ashore again this fall. Even the issue of school governance is up for a decision.

I was an intern at the Star-Bulletin covering Gov. John A. Burns’ last campaign for governor, when I discovered that politics and politicians are Hawaii’s most fascinating subject. We may live in a small state, but our politicians have egos and agendas as big as Texas.

For those of us covering Hawaii’s politics and government, our job is to remember that government should reflect our Hawaii, with voters worried about sending kids to college and buying a house, who can’t understand their insurance forms, who fret over high taxes and gas bills.

It is our job to calmly and dispassionately say how those political leaders answer the questions, tell what happened, help explain why and point out what is likely to happen in the future.

That’s what we did when there were two papers — and that’s what we will do today.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Wednesday. Reach him at rborreca@staradvertiser.com.

 

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