Seeing the New World of Journalism

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BY J. ARTHUR RATH III – Hawaii’s world of “Media” is changed. We’re a one-newspaper town those wanting news disseminated may want to consider new options.

I will illustrate with a story of a visually impaired friend whose associates, who traveled the road to  traditional media who are so challenged themselves.  (Do remember Robert Frost writing “that the road less traveled made all the difference in the world.”)


He followed the advice of professionals–well-meaning friends and two lawyers–instead of considering a new way which is, as they say,”thinking outside of the box.”

I’ll describe his situation, and introduce the investigative, challenging energy of Hawaii Reporter many persons have yet to discover.

This is the story’s leading edge: John T. Hays, who is legally blind, taught at Hawaii Pacific University for 15 years (as a substitute and then consistently for the past eight years).

A “Press Release” on Hays’ behalf was issued  by Kyle Laconsay, president of the Honolulu Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Hawaii.  The essence of the story (from a keen-eyed blogger’s perspective) is buried. This is it:
“Instead of providing him with software and a scanner so he could continue to teach, as they had committed to do, the university fired him!”

(At least I think that’s what the association director meant. Laconsay used the word “terminated.” That is local business jargon. Hemingway used it in a different sense.)

Like many modern Americans do, Hays hired a couple of lawyers.  They filed a suit in U.S. District Court against Hawaii Pacific University for “injunctive relief and damages.”

The association executive distributed a “press package” of information about Hays.  It included a five-paged printed biography with family history and eight, old-time photographs. In it was a litany of very famous people who members of his family once knew. It talked about John Hays when he received his Eagle Scout award and described his very distinguished academic record–advanced degree from Harvard and all.

She sent the press package to nine writers at the Honolulu Advertiser and two at the Honolulu Star Bulletin -including its editor. Information also was distributed to 38 print publications and radio, and television outlets.

“Hawaii Reporter” was not included, in spite of its record of not backing away from what others might consider as “controversial.”

If you are reading this, please share a message to aspiring publicists about the brave new world of electronic media.

If engaged in interactive back-and-forth world of online posting and blogging, the news gatekeeper would figure out that the story angle was about why Hays’ employer didn’t come up the money to provide the software and scanner that would all him to  continue to hold his job.  And what would that cost?

Was there an alternative if they could not afford it?

Why did everyone involved have to seek legal action instead of reasoning together?

Cost and lack of kokua (cooperation): Those two points would’ve been the story angle.

Investigative and interpretive reporting thrives in the Hawaii Reporter’s modern, new, two-way communications world.

Hays is really a nice guy with lots of fans everywhere through his on-campus and on-line courses for the military who are stationed where our country needs them. His  distant military students didn’t know he was blind, and if the college had given him the tools, he’d still be helping the brave men and women who serve us in the military and without whose enrollment the University…well, might not thrive quite as well.

Pass the word: Get on-line with Hawaii Reporter. It is fast, flexible,and definitely not passive!

J. Arthur Rath III is a Hawaii-based writer, reach him at