Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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Hawaii News

Veteran reporters join Star-Advertiser on key beats

                                Esme M. Infante and Kevin Knodell
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Esme M. Infante and Kevin Knodell

Two veteran journalists now lead Honolulu Star- Advertiser coverage in two key areas — education and the military in Hawaii.

Esme M. Infante joins the newspaper Monday as its education reporter, and Kevin Knodell began covering the military in November.

“The Star-Advertiser is committed to ensuring that the best journalists in the state are part of our newsroom staff, and I am pleased to have Esme and Kevin leading coverage when it comes to two of the state’s most important issues,” said Dennis Francis, Star- Advertiser president and publisher.

Infante comes with more than three decades’ experience in communications spanning broadcast, print and digital media, and public relations, marketing and promotions. Most recently she was a newscaster and host on the highly rated “The Rise & Drive Morning Show with Devon & Esme” on 94.7 KUMU.

Infante is an award- winning news reporter, editor, columnist and digital manager who has worked for The Honolulu Advertiser, USA Today and other local and national media outlets. She was also communications director for the late Congressman Mark Takai; promotions director for Islandwide Crafts & Food Expos; founder, chief executive and editor of Moms In Hawaii LLC; and founder of the broadcast journalism program at Mililani High School.

“I am very excited to cover education again, this time for the Star-Advertiser, especially since education is a topic particularly close to my heart,” Infante said.

“When I covered education for almost five years in the 1990s, I already felt invested then, as a graduate of Mililani High School and the University of Hawaii, and coming from a family of educators. This time I bring institutional memory, the ability to see Hawaii’s education systems over decades. And I bring new perspectives, as a former public school teacher, as well as a mother of one child in public high school and one in the University of Hawaii system.”

Knodell reports on military affairs, veterans, security and diplomacy in Hawaii and the greater Pacific.

He is an alum of Report For America, a nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover under-reported topics. As a freelance correspondent he has reported from the front lines in the Syrian conflict, wildfires in the American West and covered Iraqi Kurdistan nightlife.

His writing and photography have appeared in The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy Magazine, Playboy, The Nib, Coffee or Die Magazine, Vice and others. He is the co- author of the graphic novels Machete Squad and The ‘Stan.’

“Covering the military is about more than knowing about guns and missiles,” Knodell said. “Though understanding the actual machinery the military uses does matter, it’s important to understand the human impact of policies, training and operations have on them — and that goes for both service members themselves and the communities that neighbor these bases. Today most military reporting is centered in D.C. and the Pentagon; while policy might get made there, it happens here.”

Knodell was embedded as a journalist with U.S. troops in Iraq and watched as they patrolled the roads in Syria hunting for the Islamic State group.

“But today both the Pentagon and the White House are talking China and the Pacific. There isn’t a war out here, but there definitely isn’t peace either as nations compete for control of the ocean trade routes that link the global economy. Hawaii is at the center of that as a hub for regional military operations and diplomacy, and it’s my job to help our readers understand how that’s unfolding in their own backyard.”

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