First, an apology.
During Gov. Linda Lingle’s HB444 press conference last week, HonoluluWeekly failed to pose any of the many obvious historical and constitutional questions raised by her decision and her stated rationale. By now, most of those questions are familiar–they’ve been posed by bloggers and columnists and editorial writers from organizations around the state.
Unfortunately, none of the reporters those organizations sent to the press conference–including the one I sent, which was me–asked any of these questions directly when we had the chance. There were questions about when the decision was made, some about whether Lingle was prepared for criticism and some about how she felt about Democrats. There was little, if anything, about equal treatment under the law, the Constitution, or the history of civil rights.
The people of Hawaii–particularly the minority whose rights were left unprotected by Lingle’s veto–deserved a better press than they got that day. Many of you knew it, and I heard from colleagues and readers alike. Asked to explain how and why the governor’s veto of an historic piece of social legislation didn’t generate better questions from reporters, I said it was probably the non-confrontational culture of local journalism mixed with group dynamics–if every one else is being friendly, it’s often difficult to break up the good vibes. Not an excuse, by the way. In my case, I allowed myself to become too emotional to think clearly. It may also have helped if I were more focused on what Lingle was saying than on being the first to Twitter or post a story online about what had happened.
In any case, the Weekly was not good enough that day. I apologize. I’ve discussed this with my boss and my staff. We’ve talked about lessons learned, and we are resolved to do better next time.
In light of this, we’re taking the unusual step of running a guest commentary in the news section of the paper this week. Tambry Young and Suzanne King of Citizens for Equal Rights have prepared an essay for the Weekly on behalf of the thousands of local families who are the victims of Gov. Lingle’s veto. Because their concerns were not raised at the governor’s press conference, I believe one appropriate remedy is to afford them the opportunity to press their case here.
A further, and more important one: redoubling our efforts to cover this issue throughly.
Finally, congratulations to publisher Laurie V. Carlson on 19 years of Honolulu Weekly. A lot of people didn’t give the Weekly much of a chance back in 1991–the thought was that Honolulu wouldn’t support the kind of paper Carlson had in mind. Nineteen years later, she, her staff and our readers continue to prove differently, every week. Congratulations to Laurie, and mahalo as always to our readers and advertisers.