Media, Money & Democracy: Political Campaign Advertising and Hawaii Television News in the 2012 Elections

In March, Media Council Hawaii and Common Cause Hawaii released their study, “Media, Money & Democracy: Political Campaign Advertising and Hawaii Television News in the 2012 Elections.” The study shows that Hawaii voters saw more ads than information when watching televised news broadcasts just prior to the primary and general elections in 2012. Not surprisingly–the news media does not like to talk about how its business intersects with news coverage–the study got little attention in mainstream print and television news. But, we’re in the middle of another election cycle, and it seems the study is as relevant as ever. So, if you’re interested you can find the study here along with a companion news release from Chris Conybeare, president of Media Council Hawaii, about the study.

Media Money release 3.29.14

Media and Money Project report 3.20.14Media and Money Project report 3.20.14

Public’s Right to Open Court Proceedings

Here’s a link to the Hawaii Supreme Court’s ruling in Oahu Publications v. Ahn. It’s an important case that everyone, including reporters who cover the courts, should read for what it says about Hawaii’s tradition of open proceedings and why actions by Ahn in the past and Ahn’s decision to conduct a closed chamber conference to conduct a retrial for Christopher Deedy is of concern (see our earlier post, The Sleeping Watchdogs).

U Win Tin: Courage and Inspiration

7A47A47A4by Chris Conybeare, President, MCH


On April 21, 2014, Burma journalist and democracy advocate, U Win Tin died at age 85. He was arrested in 1989, imprisoned and subjected to torture for speaking out against the military regime and in support of human rights. He was finally released in 2008, having become a worldwide symbol of courage.

U win Tin was the chief editor of the Hanthawathi news paper and among the leading members of the National League for Democracy (The NLD is the Party of Aung San Suu Kyi.). The military rulers continually added to his sentence. So that an initial 3 year sentence was eventually extended to 20 years!

Despite declining health and enduring some of the world’s worst prison conditions, U Win Tin continued to write, using ink made from brick dust, he wrote poetry, and commentary. He wrote a report documenting prison conditions that was smuggled to the outside world and was incorporated in the report of the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma.

U Win Tin was awarded the prestigious Golden Pen Award in 2001 and has received numerous other accolades for his journalism and leadership in the struggle for democracy. Media Council Hawaii made him an honorary member of its Board of Directors in 2007.

He was offered release from prison if he would sign a pledge to withdraw from the NLD and cease activities as a journalist. An offer he steadfastly refused. Even when it was apparent that he and other political prisoners would be freed, it is reported that he protested being released without concurrent dropping of all charges against him.

He was finally released from jail in 2008,and in 2009, Media Council Hawaii was proud to have him speak at its Sunshine Week, Media Justice Conference, via SKYPE. When asked; “What are the most important qualities for a young aspiring journalist?” he replied, “A journalist should be part of the community and tell the truth!”

I met with U Win Tin in Yangon in 2010 and asked him about the changes taking place, and the regimes promise to transition to democracy. He answered, “They say there is light in the tunnel, but we do not know the source. What we really need to do is break out of the tunnel!”

His wisdom and courage should inspire all of us to a renewed commitment to ideals of freedom of communication and democracy. Our actions will be the best, most fitting and lasting tribute to this courageous journalist.

The Sleeping Watchdogs

Few reporters seemed to think it was important enough to even mention, and the Associated Press mentions it only in passing in the third graf of its story below, but Judge Karen Ahn conducted a hearing on a third trial for Christopher Deedy “in her chambers.” That means it was a hearing to which the press and public were shut out, a closed proceeding.

You may recall that on July 17, 2014, the headline in Civil Beat was that the Hawaii Supreme Court “rebukes” Deedy judge over closed proceedings. But it doesn’t seem as if any reporter felt compelled to complain about the closed proceeding involving the third trial, much less deem it worthy of mentioning in their stories…except in passing. or perhaps calling the judge on snubbing her nose at the Hawaii Supreme Court. Is this what happens when the watchdog media falls asleep?

Judge sets a date for U.S. agent’s possible third trial

August 30, 2014

The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) – A judge is tentatively scheduling a possible third trial for a federal agent recently found not guilty of murder in the shooting death of a man in a Waikiki fast-food restaurant.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Janice Futa said after the jury acquitted Christopher Deedy of murder that she’ll recommend another trial for manslaughter and assault. The jury wasn’t able to agree on those lesser charges. The first jury a year ago deadlocked and a mistrial was declared.

Judge Karen Ahn met with attorneys Friday in her chambers. According to court minutes, Ahn scheduled trial for the week of Sept. 8 if the defense doesn’t prevail in motions to stop another trial. Defense attorney Thomas Otake says he plans to file motions to dispose of the charges and avoid another trial.

House Appropriations Subcommittee to Block FCC’s Political Ad rule

The House Appropriations subcommittee voted to block disclosure of political TV ad buyers online, The Hill’s Erik Wasson and Brendan Sasso reported this morning. Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) offered an amendment to strip out the language blocking the ad rule according to Wasson and Sasso,  but his amendment lost the vote, 4 to 8. In the report, committee member, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said,

“It is obvious what this is all about and it is embarrassing, frankly. It looks like you are trying to cover up the fact that these fat cats are coming into these elections and they don’t want their names known.”

Following this decision, in an email from FreePress, Tim Karr wrote,

With their bottomless reserve of lobbyists and money, broadcasters are betting they can muscle their way into Congress and reverse a victory that tens of thousands of us fought hard to win….And their bet has just paid off.

Included in the email is a link to  this letter  demanding that Congress “serve the public and not media lobbyists.”

“In the post-Citizens United era,” wrote Karr, “we can’t let broadcasters hide their political profits.”