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Big Island Press Club Protests… Council Chair Apologizes

On April 7, 2014, Journalist Nancy Cook Lauer, President of the Big Island Press Club (BIPC), sent an email to the Chairman of the Hawaii County Council J. Yoshimoto formally protesting the treatment of three BIPC members and their equipment.

Council Members, County Clerk Stewart Maeda, and Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida also received copies of this email.

After the email was sent, Chair Yoshimoto apologized to Cook Lauer on behalf of all the parties involved in the incident.

Here is a copy of that email:

Dear Chairman Yoshimoto:

On behalf of the Big Island Press Club, we are writing to formally protest the treatment of three BIPC members and their equipment on April 1.

I understand from witnesses and partially from my own personal observation that Clerks Office staff removed thousands of dollars worth of laptops, bags, cameras and other equipment belonging to members of the media from the media area of council chambers and deposited them in the hallway.

This happened after the council had called an executive session and the media had cleared the chambers. The media had gone to the meeting room across the hall and were within calling distance of staff, had they wished to call us back to retrieve our belongings.

Instead, the gear was left in the hallway, risking the loss of equipment by theft in addition to damage by those not familiar with handling others’ equipment. A working journalist’s gear is worth more than its monetary value. It also holds irreplaceable photos, video, notes and articles.

If the rules have changed about whether equipment must be removed during executive session, it would be a professional practice to notify the media ahead of time. As it happened, journalists who have been covering the council for years were treated with disrespect and a lack of trust that they felt undeserved.

Sincerely,

Nancy Cook Lauer

President, Big Island Press Club

Hawaii Tribune Giving Out IP Address of Commenters on Their Website – Attorney Trying to Make Reporter Turn Over Notes

In an article written today by John Burnett of the Hawaii Tribune entitled, “Subpoena seeks names of people who wrote online,” Hilo Attorney Ted Hong has requested personal information regarding folks that commented on an article written on January 30th, 2012.

Subpoena

Click to read article

The newspaper complied with the demand and gave away the information of their readers, which they can legally do.

…Hilo attorney Ted Hong, who’s representing Elections Office Administrator Pat Nakamoto in her defamation lawsuit against former County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong and former County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, filed the subpoena on Jan. 4 in 3rd Circuit Court. In it, he’s seeking the identities of individuals posting under the user-names “punatic,” “Taxedtodeath,” “punatic8,” “QQ,” “548991” and “rsjm.”

The document seeks “any and all account information, including but not limited to, name, birthdate, mailing address, telephone number(s), Internet protocol address, (and) name of Internet service provider … .” The deadline for providing the information is today.

A legal disclaimer on the Tribune-Herald’s website contains the statement: “IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.”

“We are complying with the subpoena requests,” said David Bock, Tribune-Herald editor and news director for Stephens Media Hawaii. “We are very protective of our news sources and reporters’ work, but we have no control over what members of the public write in our website’s comments section…”

Unfortunately, Ted Hong is also requesting that one of the paid journalists to turn over her notes in the case regarding this same case involving the fired election workers.

Hawaii has a shield law that protects both bloggers and journalists from turning over their sources.

“Hawaii allows anyone to claim protections under the shield law so long as they meet certain conditions, such as proving they write regular reports of substantial public interest.” (Civil Beat 8/31/12)

Burnett of the Tribune Herald writes:

“…West Hawaii Today also was subpoenaed by Hong, seeking the notes of Stephens Media reporter Nancy Cook Lauer regarding stories she wrote about the firing of Nakamoto and three other elections workers, and the flap that ensued.

Bock said Stephens Media is fighting that subpoena, noting that Hawaii has a “shield law” protecting journalists in most cases from having to turn over their notes or the identities of their sources…”

I hope that Nancy Cook Lauer and the folks at West Hawaii Today stick to their guns and do not allow their reporters notes to be turned over to investigators.  It would be a huge step back in journalism and folks would no longer feel comfortable talking to reporters about things they know about if they might get in trouble for it in the future.

I’ve noticed that Tiffany Edwards Hunt of the Big Island Chronicle and David Corrigan of Big Island Video News have been pretty quiet and not blogging as much of late.  I wonder if they also got served with these subpoenas?

Hawaii Legislative Tweets (Leg. Tweets)

With the advance of technology, we can now eavesdrop on the Legislators in action as they work towards hammering out bills in the Hearing rooms.

There are a couple people in general that I’m following.

Hawaii House Blogger:  Twitter – @georgettedeemer (Communications Director Hawaii House of Reps; former state film commissioner.)

Honolulu Advertiser Capitol Blogger: Twitter – @ddepledge (The state government and politics reporter for the Honolulu Advertiser)

All News Hawaii Blogger: Twitter – @nancylauer (Hawaii Capitol researcher, reporter)

I’ll post some of their tweets up top… along with other folks who happen to drop by the legislature from time to time.

These tweets provide interesting insight to the legislature that you will very rarely read in the newspapers, and they are happening on the floor of the legislature live while they are happening… not an edited version a few hours later.