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Editor’s Page: For Real

We need to know what’s real and what’s fake.


Robbie Dingeman

Journalists write stories about our community on behalf of our readers. It’s a pretty simple and timeworn concept that’s been thrust into sharper focus by the epic changes that technology has brought to the news industry.


But a few recent developments made me realize that it’s important to speak up about why we’re here and what we stand for. HONOLULU Magazine belongs to a diverse group of locally owned media companies now called aio Media Group that includes other magazines, digital media specialists, radio, book publishing and more.


In an age when each of us can access information on our phone, from a huge variety of sources, each of these companies focuses on different aspects of our community. We share aio’s overall mission and a passion for our work, rooted in local values.


At HONOLULU and our sister companies, we strive each day to be honest, reliable and ethical, to provide readers with information that is accurate, relevant, well-researched and worth reading. Our company began with the printed page, but today we also reach people online, through pictures and sound, on social media and through all the different ways people communicate about Hawai‘i.


We remain committed to editorial independence, which means sometimes we write things that people don’t agree with.


HONOLULU Magazine is editorially independent, which means we’re not here to promote or attack but to report fairly in a balanced and responsible way. So, our editorial department, where I work, doesn’t consult the sales folks and advertisers don’t pay our team to write stories about them. That was once standard for news media. But as the web, smartphones and other developments changed the way information is delivered, it made it easier for everyone to communicate quickly and broadly. That comes with the benefits of swiftly spreading information among people of different means and motivations, but it also means we can get information delivered by people who have no commitment to being fair or responsible. Many are advocates for passionately held positions, others support companies they run, work for or invest in. Rather than being editorially independent, they may operate in a pay-to-play fashion, covering issues only when they are paid to. When we write about school test scores, social issues or even fashion trends, it’s based on what’s newsworthy; and when we review restaurants, we provide candid feedback.


We know that our readers, like us, trust information more when we believe the people presenting the information share basic values about striving to present fact-based, balanced accounts or summaries.  Lately, this long-held shorthand description of journalism has been dragged into the real vs. fake news debate.


So, for the record, we remain committed to editorial independence, which means sometimes we write things that people don’t agree with, even those who advertise in our magazine. We understand our responsibility to our readers, to be their representative, and that means reporting the truth as we see it. And when that earns us some blowback, so be it.


In this issue, our real news includes a story about some of the most influential teachers from the hula community. We asked writer Lorin Eleni Gill to reach out to kūpuna, historians and others who care deeply about hula. In “Keepers of the Kaona,” these teachers share their diverse stories of how they got started, what sustains them and what concerns them. We knew we needed to be sensitive to the importance of culture and reached out to a writer with a longtime love of hula.


In “On the Brink,” writer Kim Rogers explores the difficulties conservationists face in trying to bring endangered species back from the threat of extinction.


And in a piece we’re calling “North Stars,” writer Catharine Lo Griffin introduces us to four entrepreneurs running modern mom-and-pop businesses on the North Shore, bucking the trend of big chain stores dominating the marketplace.


We’re a city magazine with a proud tradition of bringing readers a mix of useful, fun and thought-provoking information. Please let us know how we’re doing, what you want to read more or less of and any other feedback.


Thoughts about the magazine? Please email me at robbied@honolulumagazine.com.




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Honolulu Magazine July 2020
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