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Statewide news network taps student journalists


The wraps are about to come off the new statewide student news network Hiki No.

"Hiki No" is a half-hour, student-created newscast each week. It premieres at 5 p.m. Monday on PBS Hawaii.

As a taste of what to expect — sort of programming pupu — award-winning local filmmaker Stuart Yamane created a half-hour documentary on the "can do" of how it all came together. "Hiki no" means "can do" in Hawaiian.

PBS Hawaii is looking to "expand the ways we intersect with people," explains Board Chairman Robert "Robbie" Alm in the show.

PBS Hawaii’s preview, "Backstory: The Making of Hiki No," debuted Monday night and will be rebroadcast tomorrow at 9:30 p.m. and again Saturday at 9 p.m., ahead of the actual "Hiki No" premiere on Monday.

Some 55 public, charter and private high schools and middle schools from Niihau to the Big Island will contribute to the first season of "Hiki No." Digital media teachers and those pressed into service for their schools’ participation have been guiding the kids, but it is the student journalists, being equipped with "21st-century skills," who are doing the heavy lifting. At first there will be one new, half-hour, student-created newscast each week, rebroadcast a few times on subsequent days — but the ambitious, long-range plan is for six new "Hiki No" newscasts a week.

The project has support from several local businesses as well as national grants.

Students and other community members currently have access to PEG, or public, educational and governmental access, cable channels on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. Further, Olelo stages a statewide youth video competition called Youth Xchange. While some of the principles are the same, including the opportunity for students to tell their own stories in their own voices, "Hiki No" is a completely different type of venture — and maybe, just maybe, some of us old-media dogs will learn some new tricks if we tune in.

Hard Rock, soft heart

The grand opening of the new Hard Rock Cafe on Beachwalk Avenue, replacing the old Hard Rock at 1837 Kapiolani Blvd., will benefit local nonprofit organization Parents and Children Together, or PACT.

Tickets are not being sold as it is an invitation-only event, said community relations director Norma Spierings. Invitees have been asked to bring books, canned foods or monetary donations, so PACT anticipates a mix of support.

As with anything billed an "exclusive V.I.P. event," there will be performances from local recording artists including Anuhea, Makana, Grammy winner John Cruz and Henry Kapono, as well as an appearance by Hamish Dodds, president and CEO of Hard Rock International.

Not all VIP events have a guitar smash, as will this one.

The 175-year-old C.F. Martin & Co. Inc., a legendary guitar-maker, will be donating brand-new guitars to PACT, but not for smashing. The organization will use them to supplement its music education program, which already offers ukulele instruction.

The benefit is a continuation of the support PACT has received from Hard Rock for the last few years — support that has included some 300 annual Thanksgiving meals for PACT clients. "They’ve been very supportive," Spierings said.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at


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