Biases, Accusations, and Weasels… The Big Island Press Club Under Turmoil?

BIPC Logo: Pele on a Typewriter

I was asked back in May of this year to work with the Big Island Press Club to help them revamp and update their website which had not been updated in over a year at the time they had asked me.

Big Island Press Club, of which I’ve been a member since 2001, has changed and modernized its website, thanks to fellow member Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph and Puna blogger Damon Tucker.  The pair has changed the website to bigislandpressclub.org: gave the site a new, more modern look; and has allowed for the public to interact with the press club by offering comments on entries…. Big Island Chronicle May 20, 2009

Anyone knows that to build a site… it requires a password, thus, I had the password to the Big Island Press Club as it’s “Builder” and the Secretary of the Big Island Press Club, Wayne Joseph was the administrator.

At times there were a few technical things that Mr. Joseph needed some assistance, and he would email what the problem was, and I would go into the site and fix it… (As do many folks that help administrate websites do)

A few months ago, Mr. Joseph made attempts to put content on the site and from my understanding, he was asked by someone or the entire board that the content should be removed and that no content should be added to the site unless approved by those on the board of directors.

Mr. Joseph was fine with that decision and continued to post the monthly gleanings as asked and basically allowed the site to become that of the BIPC and he wouldn’t touch it unless asked by them to put something on the site.

Well recently, it came to my attention that Mr. Joseph has stepped down from his position on the board and with that, he know longer wanted the responsibility of administering the website, and offered to give it up to another member of the Board of Directors.

I went through the steps of wordpress and added them to the site as “Administrators”  Whether they followed through on the WordPress instructions that were sent to them or not is not my kuleana.

With that email that I sent to them, they were entitled to set up their own password and be able to access the site as any administrator would have.

Mr. Joseph then asked me to remove his duties of the Big Island Press Club site… which in turn… now that Mr. Thompson and Mr. Peter Serafin did not follow through on their end by signing up via the wordpress invitation to be added to the BIPC site… has left me in an awkward position of administering a “Fallow Site” at this point.

I recently received a copy of the September Gleanings and it reads like this:

Big Island Press Club

G l e a n i n g s

Online at www.bigislandpressclub.org Sept. 2009, No. 9, 42nd Year – HCR3 Box 10075, Keaau, HI 96749

Election Insurrection Election of BIPC officers is coming in December. Hold onto your score cards, b ecause this could get confus ing.      First, we note that KHBC radio reporter Stephanie Salazar is the current vice president. In the normal course of BIPC’s Soviet style electoral process, that would mean that Stephanie would become the sole candidate for BIPC president in 2010. However, Stephanie has a serously ill family member, and she decided for a while that she would be more comfortable concentrating on her family.  At that point, athletics writer Wayne Joseph, currently the BIPC secretary, reportedly said he would run for president. That idea was apparently provisional, since he asked at the September board meeting how late he could make a formal decision. The board responded that would be at the Nov. 10 board meeting. BIPC treasurer Rod Thompson then considered a run for president, feeling that it would be wise to have a person with not only the BIPC category of Professional but also the practical experience of a professional..

Roxie and Raoul, Professionals?

Next, former BIPC president and former West Hawaii Today reporter Tiffany Edwards Hunt, now a blogger, offered to serve on the board in some capacity. She and Stephanie decided that Stephanie would run after all, with Tiffany running for vice president on the same ticket. That prompted Rod to back off from running.       That wasn’t the end. Nominations chairman Peter Sur had recruited videographer Wendell Kaehuae’a to run for vice president. Wendell declined to back out, even with Tiffany running and even though Wendell said he would not be a candidate for president in 2011.      That didn’t bother Tiffany. “Finally some spice in the Press Club,” she responded.      Tiffany actually campaigned for president in late 2007, mailing out announcements. She eventually backed out because her impending motherhood raised too many uncertainties.      Rod, still not to be counted out, began considering a behind the scenes role as kingmaker. With two mix and match sets of candidates already pending, Rod is urging a third team to enter, Raoul and Roxie, former president Chris Loos’s bichon frise dogs. There may be some question about their Professional status, but we’ll chew on that bone when we come to it.  

Tiffany’s role in tragedy – After the previous sometimes lighthearted story, you need to be forewarned that this one is deadly serious.  On Oct. 7, 1998, Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard, 21, was beaten to unconsciousness near Laramie by two other young men, probably because he was homosexual. The two attackers claimed that the ass ault was a robbery gone wrong. Shepard died five days later.      Tiffany Edwards, then 22, a rookie reporter on the Laramie Boomerang newspaper, reported on the case extensively. Now Tiffany Edwards Hunt has posted notice on her blog that a play about the aftermath of those events, “The Laramie Project – Ten Years After,” will be presented at the UH-Hilo theater 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12. Admission will be $10, for students and seniors, $5.  http://www.bigislandchronicle.com/?p=8968#more-8968 The play will be presented on the same day in all 50 states and at sites=2 0from Europe to Asia. http://gasptheatrecompany.com/proudly_presents1.htm This is the second play about the events created by the Tectonic Theater Project. Tiffany was a character in the first play. In the past, high school students putting on the play across the nation repeatedly called her asking her what she is like so they can portray her properly, she said.      She tells them how she criticized the national news media for portraying the Laramie as “The Hate Town” in “The Hate State.”      “This is the nicest place I’ve ever lived. There’s something magical here,” she told Vanity Fair magazine in 1999. “That’s part of what’s so upsetting about all this –20for me personally and our town.”     Now she says her character in that play served as a reality check about the news profession. In some scenes, out-of-state media are shown acting like buffoons, she said.      On answer.com she is quoted as describing the outside news media as “predators.”     “I couldn’t just act like pack journalists acted. I had to have more of a sense of community,” she told the Gleanings.      The current play being ten years after the events, she is probably not a character in it. But it will be no less engrossing. One of the a ctors in the local production, Randy Raphael, wrote to Tiffany, “I just finished reading the draft version of the script, and I’m pretty shaken up. This is going to be an extremely emotional process for me, and for everyone involved.”  

Blogger weasels – Our West Hawaii member Karin Stanton, writer for the Associated Press, has a snide but delightful name for unskilled writers who post their verbal wanderings on the internet in the guise of news. She calls them “blogger weasels.0  First, to be politically correct, let’s be clear that some blogs are of very high quality . We can call their writers “blogger eagles.” For example, Editor Rod was reading the BBC online when he came across a blog by BBC environmental writer Richard Black. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/ri chardblack/ (9/22). It included a Chinese promise (?) to reduce carbon emissions, a crash in deep sea fish stocks, and the failure20of the ozone hole to heal.      It is nevertheless evident that “blogger weasel” is a mighty catchy phrase to describe bad blogs. But the phrase needed a decent description so Rod asked Karin to write more about it. Karin is no fool. She refused point blank, seeing the trap of being reviled for her thoughts by, uh, real blogger weasels. This is not just a topic for a cute blurb in the Gleanings. The BIPC board of directors=2 0has been struggling off and on for many months with how to classify bloggers in terms of membership categories and eligibility for officer pos itions. In plainer English, you probably wouldn’t mind a blogger eagle as BIPC president, but would you want a blogger weasel? There is no need for Rod or Karin to answer these questions. You, the reader, are invited to send your own answers to Rod for inclusion in the next Gleanings.

Whither the web site? – Board secretary Wayne Joseph did an energetic job of revitalizing our moribund web site beginning in May, but by July his interest had slowed and he quit the post of web administrator. President Peter Serafin took over nominal control, but didn’t make any postings. At the September meeting of the board, Peter explained that he had still not received the necessary password from blogger Damon Tucker, who had been helping Wayne. It wasn’t clear why non-BIPC-member Damon controlled the password to our site. When Rod left a phone message for Damon asking for information, there was no phone call back, but Rod did get an email saying Damon had given Rod and Peter access to the web site. Still no explanation of why Damon had that authority instead of Wayne. And as far as the possibility of getting an explanation, Damon wrote, “If you need  further assistance with the site… my rates are $25.00 per hour.” Rod is now taking a semester-long class at Hawaii Community College on web design. That may yield a solution to the conundrum…when the class ends in  December.

TV stations share news – Board member Tim Bryan has ob jected to the intention of KGMB, KHNL, and KFVE (K5) to share news content. He’s not alone. The Honolulu based Media Council Hawaii also opposed it. Here’s the short, short version, according to Hawaii Blog. “Essentially KGMB was in dire financial straits, despite ascending to the=2 0top of most ratings charts. And the deal will mean dozens of people will lose their jobs.” http://www.hawaiiweblog.com/2009/08/20/kgmb-khnl-kfve-merger A dental emergency kept Tim from attending the September meeting of the BIPC board, but members held a preliminary discussion anyway. Board member Chris Loos, part of a board majority against news sharing, said she was “horrified” by it. Rod gave the opinion that it was better to lose some news independence than to have a whole TV station fail. Board member Wendell Kaehuae’a, who has been involved in creating a couple of radio stations, predicted the sharing of news woul d not be blocked by the Federal Communications Commission, because the agreement does not involve a merger of ownership. The board will discuss the ma tter further at its October meeting.  

You think we’ve got it bad – Imagine that the owner of Fox news was also the president of the United States. The German newspaper Die Zeit describes a similar state of affairs in Italy, where “media mogul” Silvio Berlusconi is also prime minister. Die Zeit called him a “clown” and “seducer” of the Italian nation. As evidence it cited the fawning behavior of Emilio Fede, the editor-in-chief of Berlusconi’s TV station in Milan. When Berlusconi was first elected to parliament in 1994, Fede broke into tears of joy while on the air. Another time, Berlusconi called to berate Fede while he was in the middle of a newscast. With the camera watching, Fede at first appeared irritated, then nodded yes to all of his boss’s comments. Berlusconi maintains a special villa, complete with women, for compliant employees.      Berlusconi’s wife’s complained about her 69-year-old husband dating a barely legal 18-year-old and sued for divorce. She called Berlusconi’s young bunnies “fodder for the dragon.” Fede charged that “the left” misled Mrs. Berlusconi. Fede also enigmatically claimed that Berlusconi saved the nation from dictatorship. “Whether (Fede) really believes what he’s saying is hard to determine,” Die Zeit said.

Well Apparently this Gleaning has set Wayne Joseph over the edge enough to send out a few emails to the few members of the Big Island Press Club that he knew of their emails and to Mr. Thompson himself stating the following:

In an email obtained, Mr Joseph writes to Mr. Thompson:

Rod Thompson,
I just had an opportunity to read your version of the Gleanings. It shows your obvious bias and clear lack for presenting the facts to our members. It is sad that you would use the BIPC newsletter to advance your own political agenda. You clearly have a conflict of interest when you solicit your own candidates for BIPC office then write a very slanted view of the candidates that are not in your favor.

waynebiopic

It is my understanding that Mr. Joseph does not even have all of the members of the Big Island Press Club, however apparently Rod Thompson felt the need to fire the following letter off to BIPC Members:


Dear BIPC member,

Wayne Joseph has accused me in an email of bias in the September Gleanings. Many members, possibly all, received a copy of that email addressed to me.

My references to Wayne in the Gleanings were (1) to his possible candidacy for BIPC president and (2) to his administration of our Web site in May-July. Wayne’s accusation of bias refers only to his candidacy.

With this letter, I am giving you, our members, copies of emails I sent to Wayne before writing the Gleanings.

On Sept. 15, I wrote to Wayne…

“For the September Gleanings, can you write me a statement, from one sentence up to a half page long, telling why you are considering a candidacy for the post of BIPC prez? “

Wayne did not answer. On Sept. 20, I sent a second email containing this invitation…

“The September edition of the BIPC Gleanings is coming out soon. I want to extend a second invitation to you to submit a statement up to a half page long on why you are considering running for prez.”

Again, Wayne did not answer.

These emails regarding his candidacy followed by two months an email I sent to Wayne on July 15, after he resigned as web site administrator, asking him to continue to serve as administrator.

He did not answer.

– Rod Thompson rodthompson1

So I have a few things to chip in here…

Here is the email I sent to both Rod Thompson and Peter Serafin:

Thursday, September 10, 2009 1:49 PM
From: “damon tucker” <damontucker@yahoo.com>
To: “Peter Serafin” <*******>, “Rod Thompson” <*******>
Re: BIPC SITE

Rod and Peter,

I have added you as administrators for the BIPC blog site.

You will need to register with wordpress to use it.  Once you have registered with wordpress…

You can activate the control panel by going to the Meta tag on the bottom right that say’s log in.

If you need  further assistance with the site… My rates are $25.00 per hour.
DT

I then myself contacted Karin Stanton with the following Email:

Karin…

How things going!!!  I’m a bit bogged down over here….

Curious about your latest comment to Rod regarding “Blogger Weasels” that made the recent BIPC Gleanings?

While he did his best to leave your name out of it… obviously this term he is using is coming from you.

Curious if I’m one of those “Blogger Weasels” you are addressing?

Please let me know because I may soon be elaborating on the statements made on my blog soon and he attributes them to you.

Otherwise… as you know… I’m just a dude with a blog…

dt

Karin replied:

…To answer your question:
I believe the term refers to a couple of lighthearted conversations around the time of the ‘So Much More Hawaii’ campaign, but if the cap fits …
…Why would you assume it referred to you? As you have repeatedly stated, you are just a dude with a blog….

Well my simple response… Is that I believe the Big Island Press Club in general is having a tough time accepting blogs in general.

But as I clue into more of what was being said… the comment was obviously a passive aggressive comment made at bolstering Tiffany’s chance of getting elected over another candidate.

After emailing more with Mr Joseph, he had the following to say about this incident:

Rod has the gleanings email list, which goes out to all members.  I only have a partial list and I needed to fight to get that.  Remember, this is a closed group in which he has the most control.

Rod is the keeper of all the records and documents of the BIPC.  He has the total list of members, email addresses, etc.  He also has total control of the finances for the club.  (The club has never had their finances audited, even though member and vp candidate Wendell K., has in the past requested an audit.)

The board failed to move on Wendall’s request.

So I’m just laying it all out for everyone to see here folks.

I don’t like folks telling me that I never gave them access to the site when you can see from the letter I wrote to both Rod and Peter… I did. Don’t count your idiocy… towards me not fulfilling my obligations.

I should have charged the Press Club to set the Site up in the first place… however, I was just trying to help you folks out… Little did I have any intention of being stuck administering some site that I have no interest in.

18 Responses

  1. Yikes. I just ran across your site at random. I’ve also volunteered to set up wordpress blogs for organizations who weren’t very tech savvy, and it’s usually not a fun experience. But even by my standards, it sounds like you got a raw deal. Anyway, you’ve got my sympathy, fwiw. :/

  2. Wow, what a whole lot of hot air about something that has absolutely no bearing on anything or anybody whatsoever.

    Fact 1: Karin never named anybody a blogger weasel, and you took it upon yourself to think it refers to you. Rod even said in the August meeting that he kind of likes what you are doing.

    Fact 2: Karin does not speak for the board. Tiffany does not speak for the board. I do not speak for the board in this comment. The BIPC board, which you should know by now is comprised of regular people and not sinister evildoers riding unicorns, does not stake a position on anything at all unless it votes in a meeting on a properly introduced motion. To my knowledge there has never been any motion declaring you a blogger weasel.

    Fact 3: Would members vote for a blogger weasel to be president? In plainest English, no, because if we know a person is a weasel we won’t vote for that person.

    Fact 4: Arguing and disagreement is actually the norm at BIPC meetings. There are genuine differences of opinion over almost every agenda item, down to the exact wording of dunning letters and citations that we send out to government troublemakers. But that is par for the course. We are rivals outside the meeting and sometimes inside, but we fight because we believe in the larger purpose of supporting journalism students and protecting the public’s right to know. There are two candidates for president in this election for the first time in who knows how long, each with a different vision, and I can only hope for a fair and clean election.

    Fact 5: I’m not sure how DeVany can back up his “power and greed” comment. This isn’t the County Council. Nobody’s spending your tax dollars here. It is a volunteer, unpaid organization comprised of concerned citizens. It still boggles my mind why any non-members would care about who gets to run the meetings.

    As for your involvement with the website, I believe I voted against you and the Big Dog working on it back in May. The motion carried anyway. I cannot comment on the website because I think my vote was the right one, and it sounds like you and the Big Dog are coming around to the same conclusion.

    At last, we can agree on something.

    Peter

    • 1. I know Karin didn’t call me or anyone specifically a “Blog Weasel…. that’s why I emailed her for clarification before posting this.

      2. I’m not sure where you may have thought I said Karin or Tiff were speaking for the board.

      3. I find this all to irrelevant, however, when used in the gleanings to other members of the BIPC it is relevant. Especially when two of the members that will be running for President both have blogs.

      4. If you folks can’t have a clean and fair election… that would really be sad.

      5. Devany is a female… I’m not a member… and I don’t care.

      It was brought to my attention by a BIPC Member… and I did my best to try and figure out what was going on.

      I still have not heard from Rod Thompson, since I published this.

      I did get an email from Wayne Joseph basically saying that I was accurate in my account.

      If Mr. Thompson would like to email me or post a comment, he is welcome to.

      I’ve moved on… It’s not a big deal to me, just shining the light on what was shined to me.

      I know I probably pushed a few buttons here and there… but you folks are in the Press and you folks are used to pushing buttons yourself.

      I figured most of you all have pretty thick skin…

      Curious though… Why do you comment on blogs and not on your own Newspapers comments. :roll:

      Peter… Of all guys… I think your one of the best and a prime example of the younger generation that could really make this BIPC rock and roll.

      I think you all are great folks… don’t like some of the politics and the behind the scenes things that go on… but I never like behind the scenes things!

      Further more… you guys really promote a great cause by giving away scholarships to up and coming college students…

      I’m a true “Writer” at heart… I love to write… wish I was better and more trained… but I just like to write… and your club really encourages open thinking.

      It’s strange that a club that promotes so much freedom of speech, openness, and transparency… that you folks would come down on me for my own style of “Reporting” so to speak?

      • Hello,

        Not to nitpick, but only one of the presidential candidates has a blog. Big Dog is running for the top slot against Stephanie Salazar; Wendell K and the Tiff are going at it for VP.

        Regarding point 4, all the elections that I’ve seen up to this point have been Soviet style. So to have an actual contested race will be something rare.

        5. Apologies to Devany. That’s the second time since Friday I guessed wrong.

        I’m not sure what you mean by assuming journalists have thick skin. We don’t push buttons for the sake of pushing them. That’s a role best left to those who express their own opinions.

        I have commented on newspaper story blogs on rare occasions, but again I can’t show opinion unless it’s a matter regarding BIPC (as a board member), Oregon football (in favor) or the Oregon State Wetrats (against). Think about that: Why doesn’t free speech apply to individual members of the media? Why aren’t newspapers open and transparent to the public, since they all also favor openness and transparency in government? Should you be calling them hypocritical as well?

        As for your own style of “Reporting,” so to speak, I’ll pass on judgment. That would support the theory that the mainstream media are out to get you. It’s not that. It’s your attitude toward the club.

        I remember when you wrote F* BIPC, they control the politics of the Big Island. It wasn’t too long ago. Now you say we’re great folks and the club promotes a great cause and I don’t know what to believe.

        Here’s why I got involved. Back when I was a high school senior, BIPC gave me $500 in scholarships. And a couple thousand more over the next few years. So when I returned to Hawaii, I needed to give back and joined the board.

        And after five years, serving as a director, a secretary, a VP, a president, a past president, a director again, a member of the year and chairman of the Scholarship Committee, I think there are enough qualified people running next year that I can step aside in 2010 and give others a crack at leadership.

        • Peter… I never said “F* BIPC,….”

          If I remember correctly, I stated “BIPC controls Island Politics” and to clarify what I meant…

          Is that the “Press” in general does have such a strong influence over it’s readers, listeners and viewers, by simply endorsing candidates and writing certain articles or releases in such a way can really make or break a politicians chance of being elected.

        • The exact quote (I found it) was:

          “Our Press Club Controls the Politics of this Island. I’m here to say fuck you folks that want control… lets give power to the people.”

          That is saying the same thing, just in more words.

          • While that might have been the quote… the context I was using it, was more in the fact that I was saying Fuck you to ANYONE and Everyone that wants control over people.

            The more power we give to more individuals on this island… the more power the people have. I can’t find exactly where the quote came from… but I bet this is right about the time when I started pushing the FBI Blogs of individual bloggers on this island a bit more.

            Meaning… I put my name out on the line on Twitter… Pushing those Bloggers that weren’t under some sort of BIPC clause that they have to write with some sort of SIPJ integrity.

            Power to the people … Freedom of Expression… etc.

            Had nothing to do directly with the “INDIVIDUALS” within the BIPC… just the fact that the BIPC was so rigid in its standards that folks were basically controlled by being members of it.

            I wasn’t about to sign something that said I could only report or write about things in a SIPJ style… and that’s what the BIPC was pushing at the time I believe I made that comment.

            I could be wrong…. I’m just trying to say that most of us bloggers don’t need some sort of Society or Press Club to make a difference anymore.

            It used to be that those of the BIPC were the folks to turn to … Times are changing.

        • Forgot to mention Peter…

          I did enjoy your Wetrat comment… but being a devout Huskies and Cougars fan… all I can say…

          Is if it walks like a duck, and it talks like a duck… :roll:

  3. Good grief!!! Isn’t name calling a bit immature?? Who is going to be most grown up and let this whole thing drop first. Sounds like there was some miscommunication somewhere and it didn’t start with Damon.

  4. Damon, Tiffany is right. It is vindictive thing. After setting up the new website for the BIPC and for Rod to toss out that “blogger weasel” remark….PF(effing)FT!

    I guess it is true that no good deed goes unpunished.

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