University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s student newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi, turned 100 years old this September. Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi, which translates to “The Voice of Hawaiʻi,” has published award-winning content, while serving as a training ground for future professional journalists in Hawaiʻi and around the world.
The newspaper was launched on September 13, 1922 by Henry Bindt, a blind UH Mānoa student who thought that the university needed a student newspaper. The publication went by the name The Hawaii Mirror for its first several issues, before adopting Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi in 1923. The newspaper printed weekly editions and eventually printed five days a week using an on-campus printing press. In recent years, the number of print editions per semester has been reduced and filled with more online content on its website.
Suzanne Puanani Vares-Lum, East-West Center president, credits the newspaper with giving her “a unique opportunity to fail, learn and grow as a very green journalism student.”
“I started on the copy desk using paper, pencil and an AP stylebook. During this time, I watched the transition from typewriters to floppy disks and computers,” Vares-Lum said. “Being a former managing editor of Ka Leo, I had a unique opportunity to learn about leadership, timelines and pressure! … My experience at Ka Leo was foundational for me as it taught me about the importance of free, balanced and accurate reporting, and checking facts! More importantly, I learned how to work with a team with different worldviews, and yet build lifelong connections!”
Jay Hartwell, who served as Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi’s faculty advisor from 1997–2017, credited the university’s commitment to letting students lead the news program and make its decisions, and sustaining the First Amendment of free speech and a free press at UH Mānoa.
“It was a privilege for me to train and advise the people who volunteered to be at Ka Leo and serve UH. They worked daily on deadline with their peers to report, verify, edit, design, illustrate, comment, photograph, video, and post—all without course credit,” Hartwell said. “As with any on-the-job training, staff made mistakes and my job was to help them understand why and also how to handle complaints from angry professors, administrators, students or community members who wanted the editor or reporter fired. The students learned and graduated. Many became exceptional journalists or communications professionals. All are better citizens because of Ka Leo.”
100th anniversary celebration
Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi’s current staff is planning a 100th anniversary print issue on October 3. Other anniversary events are also being planned by the Student Media Board, the governing board which oversees UH Mānoa student media programs, including Ka Leo.
“We are excited to celebrate 100 years of Ka Leo being the Voice of Hawaiʻi,” said Amanda Dick, Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi editor in chief. “As we move into the ‘new normal’ and work to bring the campus more print issues, we are also boosting our online presence through our website and social media. At Ka Leo, it’s important for us to understand who we speak for, the spaces they are in and what they find important, so we can accurately be their Voice for the next 100 years.”
For more information, visit Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi’s website.
Some notable Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi alumni:
- Paula Akana (former news anchor, executive director of ʻIolani Palace)
- Larry Beil (ABC7 News anchor, San Francisco, former ESPN anchor)
- Jerry Burris (former Honolulu Advertiser political columnist and author)
- Beverly Creamer (Honolulu newspaper and magazine journalist)
- Robbie Dingeman (HONOLULU Magazine editor)
- Hiram L. Fong (former U.S. senator)
- Daryl Huff (Hawaiʻi News Now managing editor)
- Jason Kaneshiro (Honolulu Star-Advertiser sports reporter)
- Bill Kwon (former Honolulu sports writer and editor)
- George Lee (Honolulu Star-Advertiser photo editor)
- Dan Meisenzahl (UH director of communications, former news anchor, reporter, producer)
- Jon J. Murakami (artist and cartoonist with a comic strip in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser)
- Kent Nishimura (Los Angeles Times photographer)
- Ryan Ozawa (communications professional, independent journalist, digital storyteller)
- Gordon Pang (former Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter)
- Joey Ramirez (Los Angeles Lakers, associate director, social and content)
- Dave Reardon (Honolulu Star-Advertiser sports columnist)
- Brenda Salgado (Hawaiʻi News Now assignment manager)
- Mark Takai (former U.S. representative and state representative)
- Nicole Tam (KCCI 8 News reporter, Des Moines, Iowa)
- Catherine Toth Fox (HAWAIʻI Magazine editor)
- Michael Tsai (Spectrum News political digital journalist)
- Stephen Tsai (Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter)
- Vares-Lum (East-West Center president)
- Mary Vorsino (Hawaiʻi News Now digital content director)
—By Marc Arakaki