A brief chronicle of the newspapers and newspeople who have shaped more than 150 years of Hawaii's Journalism History

This project was researched and written by Dr. Tom Brislin , professor of Journalism. It was funded by a grant from the Educational Improvement Fund through the Office of Faculty Development and Academic Support, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Table of Contents

Hawaii Media

I. Hawaii's First Newspapers: Missionary Teaching to Home-Rule Activism

Students can make history, too: The first newspaper printed in Hawaii was a student newspaper, Ka Lama Hawaii (The Hawaiian Luminary), produced Feb. 14, 1834 at Lahainaluna on Maui.
It was written in Hawaiian, as were many of the early Island newspapers.

The missionaries, who ran the schools in the mid-1800s, introduced the idea of newspapers as a teaching tool. The first edition of Ka Lama, for example, was dominated by an essay on the habits and habitats of He Liona, the lion.

That same year saw the start of the first regular published newspaper, Ke Kumu Hawaii, also written in Hawaiian.

The missionary leaders saw these small newspapers not only helping to increase literacy and to teach academic subjects such as geography, but also as an excellent medium for teaching Christian principles.

Hawaiian scholar Ester Mookini recounts in her book The Hawaiian Newspapers: "The paper served a dual purpose of providing reading material for the schools and presenting in an effective manner the views of the missionaries upon religious and moral questions."

The first Hawaiian language newspaper established by a Native Hawaiian came about 27 years later with Ka Hoku o ka Pakipika (Star of the Pacific), published by J.K. Kaunamano. Among its editors was soon-to-be-king David Kalakaua. One of Kalakaua's many nicknames was "the editor king."

In 1836, two years after Hawaiian language newspapers took hold, the first English language paper was born, the Sandwich Island Gazette and Journal of Commerce. This version of the Gazette was sporadically published and lasted three years.

It wasn't until 1856 that the first regular English language paper was established, the weekly Pacific Commercial Advertiser. The Advertiser has published continuously since then, becoming daily in 1882 and switching names to today's Honolulu Advertiser in 1921.

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser continued the tradition of Hawaiian language newspapering as well, including a Hawaiian section, Ka Hoku Loa O Hawaii (The Morning Star of Hawaii), during its first five years.

That section ended with the success of the first Hawaiian language daily newspaper, Ka Manawa (Time), established in 1870, and edited by David Kalakaua.

The Kingdom of Hawaii produced its own English/Hawaiian newspaper, the Polynesian, first in 1841 and then for a 20-year run from 1844-1864. Among the Polynesian's editors was Hawaii's first woman journalist, Elizabeth Swain Jarves, who took over the paper when her husband became ill and left Hawaii.

In 1855 a most remarkable newspaper appeared -- The Folio, Hawaii's first women's newspaper. It put forth the arguments of the mid- century feminist movement, including among others women's rights to vote and take on leadership roles in the church.

Although it was a single-issue newspaper, it was reprinted entirely in the popular monthly the Friend, giving it a wide readership.

The articles in The Folio were anonymously written, but newspaper scholar Helen Chapin says signs point to Catherine Whitney as the editor and principal author. Whitney was married to Polynesian editor and Advertiser founder Henry Whitney.

The end of the century brought turmoil as the kingdom was overthrown and the Islands were annexed by the United States. This period brought the last great era of Hawaiian newspapers as activist editors fought for the eroding rights of Hawaiians.

Journalist-warriors of the time included Joseph and Emma Nawahi with Ke Aloha Aina; Joseph Mokuohai Poepoe with Kuokoa Home Rule and Ka Na'i Aupuni; and Theresa Laahui Cartwright Wilcox with the Liberal and Home Rule Republika.

The longest running of these papers was Ke Aloha Aina, begun in 1895 by Joseph and Emma Nawahi. Joseph Nawahi was a journalist - statesman who severed in the first Territorial legislatures. After his death, Emma Nawahi edited the paper through its last issues in 1920.

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II. Other Voices: Hawaii's Ethnic Press

Fred Kinzaburo Makino in 1912 printed the first copies of what he hoped would become the voice of the Japanese community in Hawaii.

Throughout its eight decades of history the Hawaii Hochi (Hawaii News) became that brave -- and often lonely -- voice, supporting, as writer Wayne Muromoto said, "the common people, women's rights, nonintervention ... restraint of American and Japanese Imperialism, the growth of labor unions and the preservation of ethnic cultures and languages ...."

Makino's Hochi outlived three major competitors and numerous weekly and occasional publications to survive as Hawaii's only remaining Japanese language daily newspaper.

Japanese newspapering in Hawaii began in 1892, seven years after the first major wave of contract laborers, with the Nippon Shuho (Japanese Weekly).

Hawaii's "Ethnic Press" had been established in the previous decade by the Tan Shan Hsin Pao (Hawaii- Chinese News), often a firebrand newspaper supporting Sun Yat Sen's revolution to overthrow the emperor and imperial system.

The second entry in ethnic language news coverage was O Luso Hawaiiano, published for the imported Portuguese plantation hands.

From its beginnings the Japanese Press in Hawaii was predominantly bilingual, seeing itself as an educational tool to help contract laborers learn English, establish their permanent residence in Hawaii, invest in local enterprises rather than send their money back to Japan, and to raise their children as Americans.

The Makino Legacy: Fred Kinzaburo Makino was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1877. His father was a British trader who died when Makino was 4 years old. He grew up in the Japanese traditions of his mother but fluent in English as well. He came to Hawaii in 1897 to join his brother in operating a small store.

Kona's Japanese community enjoyed one of the earliest -- and longest running Japanese newspaper, the Kona Hankyo (Echo), published and edited from 1893 to 1941 by Dr. Saburo Hayashi, a humanitarian of great social conscience.

When Makino launched his daily in 1912, there were three other Japanese dailies, led by the Nippu Jiji (Japan Times), a descendant of the Shuho.

Makino and the Jiji's publisher, Yasutaro Soga, had been rebels with a common cause -- the "Japanese Strike" of 1909.

The strike was the first among the Japanese contract workers in the sugar plantations. The Hawaii Sugar Planters Association and its financial allies dominated Hawaii's economy and politics through World War II.

Makino was infuriated by reports in the Jiji about his countrymen's poorer working and living conditions - - and lower pay -- than other immigrant labor groups. Makino became an organizer and leader of the strike committee, The Higher Wage Association, along with Soga and Jiji writer Yokichi Tasaka.

Makino and the others were sent to prison as agitators by the Territorial Government, acting on the behest of the plantation owners. This editorial cartoon from the Pacific Commercial Advertiser ridicules the jailed association members. Although the strike fell apart, the planters decided it was cheaper to renegotiate their contracts with the Japanese than face another wave of labor unrest.

Makino was a victor -- and savior -- in the eyes of the workers.

Prison did not diminish Makino's fervor for establishing equal rights for Japanese in Hawaii. He felt, however, that prison had taken the edge off of Soga, whose marriage and health suffered while he was behind bars.

Makino was also enraged that the other Japanese dailies, the Hawaii Shimpo (Hawaii News) and the Hawaii Nichinichi Shimbun (Daily News) supported -- and were subsidized by - the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association during the strike.

Makino's answer was to start his own newspaper to protect the civil rights of Japanese immigrants. In his inaugural editorial on Dec. 7, 1912, Makino wrote the Hawaii Hochi would be "published daily in the Japanese language, will endeavor, to the utmost of its ability, to further the interests of the Japanese residents of the Territory...."

Makino also announced his new paper's first activist campaign:

"To secure from the Japanese Government a modification of the present rule restricting pass- ports, so that Japanese who formerly resided in Hawaii, but are now staying in Japan, will have the right to return to Hawaii."
Makino's editorial and community campaigns over the next 15 years brought him and the Hochi prominence -- as well as considerable social reform: Makino's greatest victory was his showdown with the Territorial Government over its attempts to dilute and destroy the Japanese Language Schools through regulation.

The language schools offered instruction in Japanese culture and traditions as well as language, operating after regular public school hours. In the 1920s, practically every Issei family sent its Nisei children to a language school after finishing their normal public school day. The language schools were operated by religious, community or cultural associations.

However, the U.S. post-World War I "one language under one flag" philosophy that targeted mainly German- language schools on the mainland U.S., also took hold in Hawaii.

(The anti-German sentiment caused such businesses in Hawaii as Hackfield and Co. to switch its name to American Factors and the department store of B.F. Ehlers to become Liberty House.)

The Hawaii Territorial Government passed several laws regulating who could teach, who could be taught, what could be taught, and how long it could be taught in the Japanese language schools.

Makino's Hochi and his old friend Soga's Jiji split divisively. The Hochi sued the government. The Jiji editorialized that the schools should comply with the new regulations.

Makino was attacked vigorously by the two English language dailies, the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin, as well as by the Jiji and his old adversaries from the Shimpo.

Makino prevailed. The case went from the Territorial to the U.S. Supreme Court, both ruling in favor of the schools and declaring the Territorial laws unconstitutional.

Makino also discovered -- and published -- that while vocally opposing the litigation, both the Jiji and the Star-Bulletin had contracted and printed $30,000 worth of "revised" texts to be used in the newly reconstituted schools had the Territory won.

Makino's victory and Soga's growing conservatism vaulted the Hochi into circulation as well as social leadership.

Both Soga and Makino urged their readers to give up their loyalties to Japan and embrace the United States as their new home.

There was a difference in style, however. Soga urged conciliation and assimilation. Makino urged confrontation for acceptance of the Japanese-American as the equal of any other brand of American.

Makino's insistence that Hawaii's Japanese, so to speak, "out-American the Americans" and leave no doubt about their patriotism, no doubt helped insure the Hochi's survival during World War II.

Makino spoke against Japan's increased militarism in the late 1930s and urged Hawaii's Japanese community to remain loyal to U.S. interests.

On the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Makino wrote:

"This is our war, and we must fight until the end. Regardless of nationality, race or ethnicity, we the people of Hawaii must swear allegiance to the United States."
Both the Hochi and the Jiji were temporarily shuttered by Hawaii's wartime martial law government. The military, however, soon realized that the newspapers were an important rallying point for the Japanese community and allowed both to resume -- under censorship. In order to deflect anti-Japanese sentiment, Makino changed the paper's name to The Hawaii Herald. The Jiji became the Hawaii Times.

Although Makino was allowed to stay at the helm of the Hochi, Soga was interned in California as an alien. When he returned following the war he resumed writing as editor emeritus, but his influence had waned.

The end of the war also brought the beginnings of full acceptance into the mainstream society for the young Japanese-Americans who fought so valiantly for the U.S.

Returning Nisei such as Dan Inouye and Spark Matsunaga used the G.I. Bill to go through law school and emerge as the new political leaders of Hawaii.

Makino's vision had finally been fulfilled: The sugar planters were displaced as Hawaii's dominating force by the sons and daughters of the Issei field workers he championed.

But the Nisei's absorption into the mainstream also meant the beginning of their distancing from the traditions -- and newspapers -- of their parents. Makino's vision was full, but his coffers began to empty as his subscription list dwindled.

Makino's health had also turned downward since the end of the 1940s. He died at 76 in 1953. A Year before his death, he returned his newspaper's nameplate to the original Hawaii Hochi.

Makino's legacy was summarized by Yukiko Kimura in his examination of Hawaii's Issei heritage:

"Makino was an exceptional fighter for social justice. He could not sit still when others were in trouble. It was in his nature. He was born to fight and demonstrated his unusual strengths in social struggle. His whole life was a continuous fight and no matter how hard the fight was, no matter what suffering and hardship he encountered, he never showed signs of retreating. The harder the fight and fiercer the battle, the more energetic he seemed to be."
Today's Hochi: The Hawaii Hochi of 1991 lacks the fight and fervor of the Makino era. But it does have a stable financial base; a modern three-story plant; and a profitable job-printing and publishing arm that in recent years has made more money than the newspapers. And it has its English-language spin-off, the Hawaii Herald.

The post-Makino Hochi was run for eight years by his widow, Michiye, who was never quite comfortable with the role thrust upon her Michiye Makino sold the paper to the Occidental Insurance Company in 1961.

Three years later it was sold to its current owner, The Shizuoka Shinbun, Japan's largest prefectural newspaper.

"As long as there is a Japanese-speaking community," publisher Paul Yempuku said, "we'll continue to publish the Hochi."

Yempuku saw the need for an English-language counterpart to the Hochi. On the launching of the present Hawaii Herald in 1980 as a 24-48 page tabloid semi-monthly, Yempuku said:

"The fourth and fifth generations of the Nikkei have Japanese faces but they forget about Japanese heritage and tradition and become more like Haoles. Immigrants all over the world come to America, and if we all forget about our heritage, that would be a big loss for this country. That's where we come in."
Aside from his concern about their lack of cultural awareness, Yempuku knew the younger Japanese Americans also lacked the bilingualism of the preceding generations.

Yempuku said he wanted the new paper so that "present and future generations of Japanese Americans who are no longer able to read Japanese would still be interested in their heritage and culture."

At the same time, Yempuku added, "the Hawaii Herald will have to play an important role...I want the Herald to have its subscribers look toward Japan once in awhile...Japanese Americans should play a role as a bridge between America and Japan."

Former long-time Herald Editor Arnold Hiura sees the newspaper's role more importantly as a bridge between the generations of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii.

"In an odd way," Hiura said, "we're more Japanese than the Hochi," citing the Hochi's interest in hard news about Japan while the Herald focuses more on the impact of Japanese culture in Hawaii.

"We remind our readers of parts of our history and culture that have been forgotten as well as contemporary issues. We are a forum for contending ideas."

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III. Hawaii's "Mainstream Press"

On July 2, 1856, Henry Whitney hand-pulled from his press the first copies of what has become Hawaii's longest continually published newspaper.

Whitney was an Island-born son of missionaries sent to the mainland for education where he learned the printing trade.

He returned to Hawaii and, for awhile, ran the government-sponsored Hawaiian/English weekly, The Polynesian.

But Whitney chafed under government censorship so set off to start a newspaper "independent of government control and patronage."

The result was the Pacific Commercial Advertiser. "Commercial" was an accurate title -- the first front page alone carried 52 ads along with news accounts of King Kamehameha IV's wedding. Whitney devoted a great deal of coverage to the shipping industry and benefitted from its solid advertising support.

Whitney was fluent in Hawaiian and the early Advertiser carried a section in Hawaiian, Ha Hoku Loa O Hawaii (Morning Star).

Whitney was not enamored of everything Hawaiian, however, and his editorial campaigns managed to rile just about everyone.

His missionary roots were showing when he bitterly attacked the hula as a pagan ritual that kept Hawaiians away from honest labor.

He went up against the royal government and the emerging sugar barons simultaneously by arguing against the monarchy-sponsored plans to import Asian field laborers.

Whitney sold the Advertiser after 14 years but stayed on as its editor for another 10.

The early Advertiser boasted such writers as Mark Twain, Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Whitney left the paper in 1880 when it was sold to sugar baron Claus Spreckels -- a man Whitney wanted nothing to do with.

Sprekels was a close friend to King Kalakaua and used the Advertiser to promote government causes and the Royalist viewpoint -- a stand unpopular with the growing number of businessmen who wanted closer U.S. ties.

Whitney, meanwhile, went into the stationery business and opened a small store by the waterfront. Finding it hard to get the news business out of his veins, he posted a "daily bulletin" in the window of his shop, filled with news items and the comings and goings of ships.

His daily postings were so popular that when his shop was purchased a few years later, the new owner converted them into a newspaper called the Daily Bulletin -- the forerunner of today's Honolulu Star- Bulletin.

Whitney was the first among many to have a hand in both of Hawaii's major daily newspapers.

One of the first editors of the Daily (later to become the Evening) Bulletin was Lorrin A. Thurston, also of missionary stock.

Thurston left the Bulletin to become secretary of the Hawaiian Gazette Company, which published a weekly newspaper.

In 1888 the Gazette purchased the now-daily Advertiser and invited Whitney back to run it. He remained for five years.

One of Whitney's successors as Advertiser editor in the mid 1890s was Wallace Rider Farrington. After three years Farrington moved over to the Bulletin, where he and his family guided the paper into the 1960s. In 1912 he oversaw the merger with the Hawaii Star to become today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

While Farrington was Advertiser editor, Lorrin A. Thurston purchased the paper from the Gazette Company and started a family tradition of ownership that included his son and grand-nephew.

(The Thurstons, and today's Advertiser Chairman Thurston Twigg-Smith, are descendents of Lorrin Andrews, the editor of Ka Lama, Hawaii's first newspaper.)

The Thurstons and Farringtons were active participants in changing and shaping Hawaii's government, economy and society.

Although he served as Minister of Interior to King Kalakaua, Thurston was an architect of the "bayonet constitution" forced on the Monarchy that stripped it of much of its power.

Thurston was an active conspirator in the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani in 1893 and was one of the first to represent Hawaii in Washington, D.C. to urge U.S. annexation.

The Advertiser continued its editorializing against bringing in immigrant labor groups and railed against what it called the "Yellow Peril" and feared the effects the growing numbers of Chinese and Japanese would have on Hawaii's society and power structure.

The Advertiser's relations with Hawaii's many ethnic groups went from bad to worse as the years went on. Through racist stands the paper would gain a much- deserved reputation for serving haole elitist interests and ignoring or denigrating the local community.

Farrington, on the other hand, showed more compassion and with legendary editor Riley Allen urged the integration of the new ethnic populations into Hawaii's social fabric.

The Star-Bulletin was at times heavy-handed with its goals for integration, however. It urged the demise of the Japanese Language Schools, which taught language and Japanese culture to the children of the Issei laborers.

Farrington became a Territorial governor in the 1920s and turned the management of the Star-Bulletin over to his son Joseph, who would become one of Hawaii's delegates to Congress.

World War II dealt a severe blow to the Advertiser as it lost nearly all its ability to deliver the paper to homes in the early morning hours because of military curfews.

Although it did well with "street sales" during the war years, once the soldiers went home the Advertiser found itself in a double-dilemma:

The Advertiser began more than a decade of declining profits, circulation and influence in Hawaii. It added to its own troubles through the late 1940s and 1950s by alienating the growing local labor movement by linking it to Communist influence and control.

In 1959 the Advertiser attempted to reverse its losses of community goodwill with a new editor, George Chaplin, a Southern liberal who untiringly campaigned among local groups, pushed statehood and supported the newly emerging local politicians such as Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga.

The Star-Bulletin, although it became the primary source of news for most Islanders, suffered from internal problems of its own. Joseph Farrington's political career took him away from the paper's management and other family members showed little interest in newspapering.

The Star-Bulletin's news and printing buildings were old, inadequate, and facing condemnation to make way for the new government civic center.

One thing the Advertiser did have was an adequate building and printing plant, with room to grow.

Like the early years of both papers, there emerged several people who would have a hand in shaping their modern history.

They saw the answer to the Advertiser's financial and the Star-Bulletin's family and publishing plant woes as sharing some of their operations.

Thurston Twigg-Smith and some family members took control of the Advertiser from Lorrin P. Thurston, his uncle and the son of Lorrin A. Thurston.

Noted financier Chinn Ho, at the same time, resigned his position as a member of the Advertiser's Board of Directors to lead a group that bought the Star-Bulletin from the Farrington family.

Twigg-Smith and the Chinn Ho hui then put together a Joint Operating Agreement that moved the two papers into the same building to share the same printing press.

The agreement set up the Hawaii Newspaper Agency, jointly owned by the papers, which handles the business (advertising, circulation, accounting) and production (composing, printing) responsibilities for both. They share expenses and split the profits jointly. The papers remain separately owned and editorially competitive.

The Advertiser benefitted from the arrangement by finally having a secure financial base from which it could continue building itself back into a respectable (and respectful) community member. The Star-Bulletin solved its real estate problems and overcame a growing lethargy and lack of direction.

The merging of the newspapers' business operations did not sit quite so well with employees, however, and prompted a strike in 1963 that shut the papers down for 44 days.

A settlement finally emerged that satisfied the wage and benefit demands of the workers and gave more control to the managers to curb what they said were sick leave and other time-off excesses.

In 1971 the Star-Bulletin and its share of the Hawaii Newspaper Agency were sold to the Gannett Corporation, the largest U.S. newspaper "chain" and publisher of USA Today.

Gannett brought Phil Gialanella to Hawaii to run the newspaper agency and Star-Bulletin.

After more than a decade as a competitor with the Advertiser, Gialanella moved over in the mid 1980s to become publisher of that paper -- continuing the historic cycle of Advertiser-Bulletin role-swapping.

The ultimate swap was a complete change of ownership in January 1993 when Gannett sold the Star-Bulletin - and bought The Advertiser. This quarter-of-a-billion dollar purchase by Gannett also included all of the News Building property at Kapiolani and South Streets. The Star-Bulletin was purchased by Liberty Newspapers, based in Arkansas and led by Rupert Phillips.

Diane Chang moved from Hawaii Business magazine to Star-Bulletin leadership as a senior editor and editor of the editorial pages.

Chang, an accomplished UH-Journalism alumna, is one of several Hawaii women journalists who have made significant contributions to local journalism.

One of the Star-Bulletin's longest tenured employees -- 36 years -- was Louise J. "Loujo" Hollingsworth, who covered the court beat for the afternoon newspaper.

Loujo was a fixture in the courtroom, serving as a mentor for many young attorneys -- and even judges -- as well as a reporter.

Loujo totally rejected the notion of 1930s newspapering that women should cover only the society pages.

She was the key reporter for the 1932 Massie trial that deepened Hawaii's racial divisions and featured a defense by Clarence Darrow -- the most celebrated attorney in the nation.

Loujo retired in 1962, ending a 44-year career. Tomi Knaefler described her eccentricities and warmth:

"With a jig-saw past that includes two tattooed butterflies above her knees. . . .With compassion that moves her to take care of blind vendor Harry Kim's snack stand every lunch hour so he can take Mike, his seeing eye dog, for a walk."
On the Advertiser staff, local reporter Ella Chun also broke through the "society page" boundary for women by becoming one of the top City Hall reporters. Chun joined the Advertiser in 1937 after graduating from the University of Hawaii. She moved from the society section to the city room. When the Advertiser celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1956, Chun had "the longest record of service with the reporting staff."

From the 1950s through the 1980s, "Scoops" Kreger moved from proofreader to society page to feature writer to "Ms. Fixit" columnist at the Advertiser. Kreger was author of a popular series "Scoops at Work" where she took on various jobs -- from garbage collector to baker to ambulance paramedic -- for a day to explain how people go about their work.

Women today are represented in all ranks of Hawaii newspapering from reporter to managing editor to senior editor. The ranks of UH-Journalism alumni are also well-represented in the bylines and on the editing staff of both newspapers.

Esme Infante's Honolulu Advertiser career began in business and labor reporting. She later covered the education beat, wrote editorials, and served a stint at Gannet's USA Today. Today her byline and signature column is found in the daily and Sunday Island Life section.

Other UH Journalism alumni who have worked at the "national level" in newspapers, magazines and wire services include Shannon Tangonan, Mike Tsukamoto, Lorna Lim and Darren Pai at USA Today; George Garties and Patricia Bibby at the Associated Press; and Dorothy Gannon at U.S. News and World Report.

UH-Journalism graduates have found opportunities with both newspapers for a strong professional career - - and to make a contribution in the continuing history of Hawaii journalism and its role in reflecting and changing society.

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IV. Lights, Cameras . . . .

"Hello Everybody. Welcome to the first official broadcast of KGMB-TV."

With those words spoken at 5:04 p.m. on December 1, 1952, Carl Hebenstreit ushered in the age of TV to Hawaii. In what was to become typical of Hawaii nighttime programming, the debut broadcast started four minutes late.

Hebenstreit, the popular radio DJ of the time, "Kini Popo," let curious and excited viewers know what was in store for them that very first "prime time" on Channel 9: Gene Autry at 5:30, Time for Beanie at 6, Lilli Palmer at 6:15, Hopalong Cassidy at 6:30 (sponsored by Love's Bakery -- Isle TV's first commercial show) and winding up the night "Meet John Doe" -- a Gary Cooper - Barbara Stanwyk movie about journalism!

The Isle inauguration of TV was a closely fought race between KGMB TV and KONA TV (later to become KHON- TV), partly owned by The Advertiser. It was a continuation of the "radio race" fought in the 1920s when The Advertiser and Star-Bulletin brought the first stations (KGU and KGMB) to Hawaii. KONA TV actually broadcast the first images the preceding November -- test patterns and clips from the movie newsreel series The March of Time.But KGMB put its engineering and FCC permits in order first and had the airwaves to itself for nearly seven months.

KONA TV kicked off its programming on Channel 2 June 24, 1953, with a heavy promotion of its local personalities including newsman Webley Edwards, sports broadcaster Carlos Rivas and entertainer Lucky Luck. Hawaii's third station KULA (to later become today's KITV after a stint with the call letters KHVH) started on Channel 4 a year later.

Television journalism through the 1950s was pretty much a "rip and read" operation -- reading reports ripped from the news service wires or from the day's newspapers. The bulky equipment of the time didn't lend itself to newsgathering.

Television did break some news ground, however, with the interview show -- bringing newsmakers into the studio for in-depth discussions of the day's events. Webley Edwards, besides his regular newscasting duties, and Betty Smyser, the first woman on Hawaii TV, were pioneers in the television talk news format.

The development of lighter weight 16mm film & sound cameras in the 1960s brought broadcast journalists outside of the studio and into the community.

Honolulu's three network affiliate stations began an intense competition for the news-watching audience.

Some of Hawaii's early TV journalists include Chapman Lam; Ken Kashiwahara, who joined ABC network news; and Dan Chun, who left TV to join the seminary.

Former KGMB anchor Bob Jones began his reporting career in the 60s and won acclaim as a war correspondent in Vietnam, first for The Advertiser and then for NBC News. His Advertiser replacement in Vietnam was Denby Fawcett, now the statehouse reporter for KITV. Jones and Fawcett were married in the late 60s.

The "boy's club" atmosphere of TV journalism was broken in the mid-60s by Linda Coble, a long-time KGMB TV and now KSSK radio journalist and producer. Coble was followed by pioneering women such as Bambi Weil and Karen Ahn (both are now Hawaii judges) and Barbara Tanabe.

Out of the intense TV news competition arose Bob Sevey who more than anyone else established the nightly news habit among Hawaii's television watchers. Sevey was regarded as "Hawaii's Walter Cronkite" and brought high journalism standards and astute news choices as well as a commanding delivery style. Sevey was the trainer and mentor for Jones, his successor on KGMB, as well as for Tim Tindall, KITV anchor, and for Joe Moore, the current news ratings leader on KHON-TV.

The three-way fight for ratings grew to four in 1995 when the Fox network purchased KHON-TV and KHNL added local news to its lineup when it became the NBC affiliate. The "news wars" escalated further as the TV newsrooms added morning, midday and late night news segments.

Cable TV, meanwhile, through the 'Olelo public access corporation, provided the opportunity for several alternative news programs by groups wishing to promote local government, Hawaiian sovereignty, free speech, and other issues and causes.

Some of Hawaii's TV journalism success stories are also good news for the UH Journalism Department.

Linda Taira, former CBS national correspondent and now a PBS executive, is a 1978 UH-Journalism graduate. She got her professional grounding at The Advertiser and KITV, then worked in mainland broadcasting, including CNN, before "going network." San Francisco broadcaster Emereld Yeh graduated with Taira and also worked locally for KITV and on the mainland for CNN. ESPN Sportscaster Larry Biel wrote for the campus newspaper and worked behind the scenes at KHET-TV before starting his successful on-air career.

Current faces on local TV also reflect the diversity of UH-Journalism alumni including KITV anchors Paula Akana Jodi Leong and Cathy Muneno; KHNL reporter Darren Pai; KHON-TV investigative reporter Tina Shelton and morning anchor Ron Mizutani; KGMB-TV anchor Jade Moon and sportscaster Dave Vinton.

Those "behind the cameras" include KHON news director Jim McCoy and managing editor Mark Matsunaga; KHNL news director Chuck Parker and producer Martha Shade; KITV producer Lori Silva; and KGMB producer Sharene Saito.

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Further Reading

To study more about early Hawaii newspapers, you can consult: II To learn more about the development of Japanese newspapers in Hawaii: III. and IV. Information about contemporary newspapering and broadcasting in Hawaii can be gathered from microfilmed editions of the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. A comprehensive index of the newspapers is available in the library.

The Journalism Department Library also has copies of "in-house" histories prepared by The Advertiser and by the Hawaii Newspaper Agency.

The newspapers' histories are also briefly sketched in Collier's Encyclopedia.

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Some Hawaii Media Websites

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