Monday, December 12, 2011


ON AGAIN, OFF AGAIN: We've been merciless with our local newspaper, especially since the departure of "Big Mike" Levine who is making quite the name for himself covering the Honolulu City Council for the online news source Civil Beat with the same rabid no-holds-barred coverage he provided for the Kaua`i community.

But what made the era remarkable- especially considering the seemingly determined efforts of the owners and publishers to dumb down the content and bend over for the Chamber of Commerce crowd- was Levine's tag-team partner Editor Nathan Eagle who, despite the orders from above, managed to shine even with a usually semi-literate, untalented group of underlings.

And now it's Eagle's turn to exit as we've learned with a one-way ticket to South America where he plans to both work and play, "hopefully more of the latter."

Eagle, whose last day will be Wednesday, has no idea who his replacement will be but we fear the worst given that the search for a new editor has been ongoing without success.

The facts that the salaries are traditionally of the starvation variety at the paper and that the job has been advertised locally don't instill much hope that anything resembling professionalism will be a trait of Eagle's replacement.

For the uninitiated, there is a "circuit" where many new J-school grads jump on board, travel the country, spend a couple-o-few years working, first at small papers and then gradually larger ones, trying to make their mark and move up the ladder while honing their skills. Many do it because they need the experience- others because they like the lifestyle.

And separate from the chaff, some of the highest quality semolina has come from that job mill.

The thing is that a Hawai`i assignment usually attracts those who will work for less, and many times that is reflected in their work. The Anthony Sommers, Dennis Wilkens, and the Levines and Eagles of the world are the exception rather than the rule. They generally arrive sans family or attachments and, although they sometimes intend to stay a while, they usually eventually depart for bigger and better things, disgusted with the way they've been treated both financially and as to the freedom to report what they actually see without a filter imposed from above.

The Andy Gross episode of a few years back is typical. The then fairly newly-hired Gross started nosing around the sale and operation of the then newly-created electrical "co-op" and eventually had his copy squelched by then weekend-Editor Paul Curtis, a former close associate of Gregg Gardiner, the "founder" of KIUC. With Gardiner at the helm and Curtis writing the copy at the notorious "The Kaua`i Times" they worked to, among other ventures, overturn the Nukoli`i vote, support the Hanalei boaters and champion various other efforts that took a crap on the people of Kaua`i.

So don't expect much when the new editor is named, especially with Publisher and CofC Board Member Randy Kozerski in charge. Kozerski fired the last business editor for perceived disregard of Chamber news and then hired the next one with instructions to pump up the CofC with more and more "positive" coverage.

So get ready to meet the news boss. We can only hope they're the same as the old boss.

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