Funny how time slips away when you’re trying to dig your heels into the lives and realities of another culture.
I’ve been on the Garden Isle about seven months and it’s taken me about that long to really dive into my sources.
Some of them are livid with how things are run on this small island community of about 70,000 people.
Others are just living the vida Aloha and want to “throw the criminals to the sharks.”
Many people tell me however, that elected officials and people in charge on this island should take more accountability.
Our newspaper also should be more accountable.
As the fourth estate, we have a responsibility to the community to watch elected officials and those in power and then have the community’s back when no one is looking out for it.
I’ve been blacklisted in other cities. I’ve made people upset. I’m used to it and darn proud of it.
So it was no surprise to me when I came here to Kauai and starting getting doors shut in my face. People not returning my phone calls. Nothing new. It’s the name of the game.
Cold calling people you don’t know to find answers and not getting what you expected.
But here – it’s a whole new level.
“It’s not Aloha,” I’ve been told, referring to me asking questions about something.
To add to that—I’ve had resistance from places I’ve never expected.
People I trusted within my inner circle.
Sources die and bridges burn, but new ones are built and from the ashes a phoenix rises… etc etc cliché cliché yadi yadi…
As a journalist, one often has to review strategies and what does and doesn’t work.
Yes, this is vague, but only because I cannot say all the things I want to say.
I love the island of Kauai. I love the experiences I’ve had here and the people I’ve met.
I can say this. I am not happy with the content I have produced thus far, and many reasons and none of them have to do with typical “doors shut in my face” type thing.
This community deserves better.
During my time here, I’ve also had a chance to explore the types of stories that I think this community really needs.
They’re not looking for just crime stories – blood and gore. Those types of stories are what I’m used to writing at the breaking news desk in Houston. Pop a few out on the weekend and add some elements of scandal.
In Las Vegas and Houston, larger cities that were connected to social media and nightlife, things moved faster. People craved that kind of story.
In a small town, people are concerned about their families and their safety. It’s not like this is breaking news to me or that I’ve had my “Ah-ha” moment.
To understand this though, I’ve had to think about the types of stories journalists are generally asked to write.
A lot of people don’t understand the media and why we are interested in the things we are interested in. It’s simple really. We’re interested in getting as much information as possible and putting it into short concise articles that can be easily digested.
I like to write, short choppy sentences. Typically, that works better with newsy stories, not feature stories.
I’ve explored leads in an earlier post before, so I won’t get into that.
Crime stories are fun because you’re relying on straight hard facts, which come from police officials or attorneys involved in the case. Court records also are a valuable tool.
Depending on the type of feature, I can become aggravated when asked to write one.
I LOVE people features, though.
One of my favorite stories – there have only been a few – while working at the Garden Island newspaper was writing a story about a corrections officer at Kauai Community Correctional Center- Kauai’s overcrowded jail. His name was Tom Lindsey.
I didn’t include the lawsuits in that article, because they were directed at the warden and not my subject. I did however note the overcapacity of the jail.
Lindsey was easy to speak to. And forthcoming about his own criminal past, which I allude to in the article. It’s always nice when you can sit down with someone and just talk story.
Another type of story I love, are investigations. For me, digging into something is fun. Yes, it requires time. Yes, time is valuable. But the result is glorious.
I don’t have a lot of time to dig into stories on Kauai, but when I learn something fascinating, my heart skips a beat.
I want to know everything. I try to talk to everyone. My sources are invaluable. I get tips every day from all kinds of people on Kauai.
But of course, life is what happens… etc.
Where to go from here?