IMR: 1999: August: 26 —  Thursday, 12:07 p.m.
Mom's Place, Mililani, Hawai`i

There's homework due in Brislin's class tomorrow. Yes, Friday. Pretty clever, I think, for a class that meets Tuesdays and Thursdays. If anything was due today, Brislin explained, anyone who didn't finish it would just skip class.

I should be doing it now, but I can't yet bring myself to write another five-page biography of myself for another journalism class. He's probably right.

Instead, I'm trying to ignore grandma's "Walker: Texas Ranger" while mom chases Katie all over the house. Meanwhile, Jen's taking a much needed break at home. Though she'll deny it, she gets especially wound up when there's a full moon.

Right now, I'm not so much thinking about what to write as I am about whether I can procrastinate until tomorrow morning. The deadline is noon, after all.

Thank god I don't have to go back to campus to turn it in. Brislin is refreshingly net savvy. He keeps the syllabus online (the copy passed out in class is just printed from the web), maintains a massive collection of links to journalism ethics resources, and accepts most assignments via e-mail.

He has an old-school side, of course. He insists the textbooks will be used and referenced in class, so I guess I'm going to go out on a limb and actually buy them before the last week of class.

Fortunately, as all of America has been bombarded on television and in magazines, I know I've many alternatives to the accursed UH Bookstore.,, and even though that last one has made a few enemies with its ads.

Like Prof. Keever, Brislin is a major advocate of underrepresented and marginalized communities:

"What kind of coverage does the Samoan community always get? Sports. Crime. Abuse. Do you ever see human interest profiles of those large Samoan churches, or read stories where they're portrayed as part of the mainstream? Do you ever see interviews with Samoan doctors? Is it that there aren't any Samoan doctors?

"Do you ever see stories about Nanakuli, or Wai`anae, except when there's a bad accident or someone gets killed?

"You always see read about areas where journalists live. Kaimuki. Kailua. Downtown. Hawaii Kai. People are convinced there's no civilization past Red Hill, or Pearlridge. Stories are picked by how easy they are to reach."

On that principle I can agree. However, I expect some good-natured sparring on the place of community activism in journalism.

Brislin also seems to be an advocate of journalists getting involved in the communities they cover, using the resources and powers of the media as a way to help people, as a way to "make a difference."

Sorry. I just shake my head when I see KHON push its "parnerships" with local charities and its Lokahi project. Or KGMB and its roving "we're listening" tours.

Printing an address where people can send donations for fire or flood relief is one thing. Getting so involved that you're worrying about whether your station or newspaper logo is visible as a sponsor is another. How do you judge which causes are worthy of extra inches or airtime? And what's your motive?

In my view, journalists are not philanthropists. (Most people would say we're anything but.) The floundering industry shouldn't be trying to save its ass by pretending to be a selfless, humanitarian benefactor.

Hey. Mom just got the pictures from the bank picnic on Saturday. Some pretty good shots, though I do say so myself.

[ Mom & Me ]   [ Favorite Dress ]   [ Beach Baby ]

I made the mistake of looking at a copy of Ka Leo this morning. They really did change the flag.

The flag — the signature logotype topping the front page that embodies the history and character of a newspaper — is now a flashy, chrome-esque sans-serif monstrosity that just screams "web page." Even the entire front-page layout looks like a web page, right down to a pointless thick border around the whole thing.

Those dorks. Such a rare opportunity, and they waste it.

My team had two years down there, covering real news, stirring up trouble and pushing for change. Among our many missions was getting an online edition started and redesigning everything, including the flag. But the Board of Publications seemed scared of the former idea ("What about advertising? Where's the money?") and absolutely flabbergasted at the latter.

What's worse, they even sold us on the why. "The flag is a newspaper's soul! The Ka Leo flag has been around longer than you kids have been alive!"

But it looks like all they wanted was an editor and staff that played nice first. All the hard work of the last couple of editors — running front-page fluff pieces on coffeehouses and looking the other way when a professor was hauled off campus by the feds for trading child porn — finally paid off.

In a way, the new Photoshop nightmare of a flag is fitting. It's out of place on a newspaper, but on a newsletter? Pure magic.

Anne was able to catch the CityExpress! with me back to the office today. We had an especially friendly driver, and when we started talking about the recorded voice that announces the stops, she laughed and joined in the conversation.

My suspicion on Tuesday was right, insofar as the voice is a recognizable one. It belongs to none other than Brickwood Galuteria, famed local radio deejay.

As we approached the Capitol District, the driver asked, "Up here, is it Alapai or Alapa`i?" We shrugged. She said the recording is unclear as to whether or not there's an `okina in the name.

Sure enough, as we pulled up to the old bus depot, Brickwood called out, "Now approaching Alapai... and Alapa`i Express Yard."

Odd. I noticed last time that they seemed careful when it came to pronouncing all the diacritics in Hawaiian words. But you can tell by how the speech is stilted that it was recorded in individual pieces and spliced together for different routes, so with alapa`i prounounced both ways at one stop, it stands out.

We also confirmed that the whole system is GPS based — Brickwood does his thing automatically as the bus goes about its business.

"But they should just make it call out cross streets," the driver said, shaking her head. "Sometimes there's so much to say, the bus stop is long gone by the time he's done announcing it."

Indeed, at the Punchbowl stop where Anne and I were getting off, Brickwood had to list no fewer than six different landmarks. It left us breathless!

Met up with Burt Lum for lunch yesterday. We were joined by Paul, a friend of his and a fellow geek. We ate at Pho Hoa on River Street. As usual, I had the pork chops. And as usual, I talked too much.

Online journals were a major topic of conversation, as he'd just finished penning a "Click!" column on them for The Advertiser, but mostly we chatted about all things internet. It's always exhiliarating to meet another idealist, another "big picture" thinker, another dreamer who ponders all the human aspects and implications of new media. Most of my unwired friends and coworkers just roll their eyes.

Amazon.Com stock might be hot, Yahoo! may have cornered the portal market, and MP3s may change the face of commercial music. But I think, ultimately, everyday people are still the heart of the web. "Making connections," as Burt says, and sharing experiences — that's why people flock to the net.

Well, that and porn.

Fellow escribitionist and urban nomad extraordinaire Panther was a centerpiece of the discussion. Like myself when I first visited his site a couple of years ago, Burt was amazed at the insight it gave into a stranger's life — how it opened his eyes to a completely foreign perspective, another lifestyle.

You can learn so much, be exposed to so many new ideas, now that you're able to instantaneously jump into the shoes of over 1,600 strangers around the world.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 26 August 1999 · Last Modified: 28 August 1999