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LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Allen Hoe

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX: Allen Hoe

 

As one of more than two million draftees called upon to fight in the Vietnam War, 19-year-old Allen Hoe thought he would serve his time and then his life would return to normal. He couldn’t have imagined that his 10-month combat tour would make him what others describe as a soldier’s soldier. The longtime Hawai‘i attorney reflects on the wartime experiences that forever shaped his civilian life.

 

Read the November program guide cover story on Allen Hoe

 

Program

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 4:00 pm and 11:30 pm.

 

More from Allen Hoe:

 

The Flag

 

Why Polo?

 

Allen Hoe Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

When U.S. Army General Robert Brown spoke of the 2018 recipient of the Mana O Ke Koa, Spirit of Warrior Award, he said: Awardees demonstrate unparalleled patronage for and civilian leadership toward our Army.  Allen Hoe embodies those qualities.  While each nominee for the award is deserving, we feel Allen’s dedication to the Army is truly outstanding.

 

Fifty years prior to General Brown’s statement, the Army sent a special invitation—a draft notice, to the same Allen Hoe, who admits he was a typical local boy of the late 60s, focused only on surfing, hotrods, and girls.  But a ten-month combat tour in a small country in Southeast Asia turned this local boy into a soldier’s soldier.  Vietnam veteran Allen Hoe, next, on Long Story Short.

 

One-on-one engaging conversations with some of Hawai‘i’s most intriguing people: Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox.

 

Aloha mai kākou. I’m Leslie Wilcox.  Allen Hoe’s father was from Kalihi on O‘ahu, and his mother was raised in Moloa‘a on Kaua‘i.  He points out his ancestors were all subjects of monarchies—on his father’s side, Chinese and Japanese; his mother, Hawaiian, English, Scottish, German, and Spanish. His father was a World War II veteran, and there’s evidence of warriors serving their country throughout Hoe’s family tree from the Queen’s royal guard in India, to a war lieutenant for King Kamehameha.

 

Now, you were raised a regular local kid?

 

Typical local boy; right.  You know, in the 60s, focused on surfing, rock ‘n roll, and girls.  The 60s, I think, for me, our history in the 60s was probably the most traumatic decade that our country has experienced in the last century.

 

And were you part of that resist, oppose? You know, resist authority was the call of the day for young people.

 

Yeah. Me?  No; I was more interested in hotrods and surfing.

 

So, that kind of passed you by.

 

Yeah, yeah; that kinda passed us by.

 

Were you in ROTC as a student?

 

So, did the war in Vietnam touch your life as it started out in the 60s?

 

You know, not really.  I think in my junior, senior year, it was just really kinda like an extra subject for history lessons, history courses.  And it wasn’t until the summer after we graduated that it kinda came home very personally, because the older brother of one my dearest friends was one of the first casualties in Vietnam.  He was killed in Cu Chi.

 

Oh …

 

And then, later on that year, I had a cousin who was killed in Vietnam as well. And then, it’s like, wow, this is for real, what’s happening here.

 

What happened next?

 

And then, I was still pretty much living life like a local boy.

 

Hotrods.

 

Hotrods—

 

Girls and surfing.

 

Yeah, yeah, surfing.  And then, I got a special call.  I love to tell this story, because the young soldiers today, I said: You know what, we are so proud of the decisions you made to serve your country, but you know, my legacy is a little bit different.  I was very special; Uncle Sam came looking for me.

 

He said: Mr. Hoe, we need you.

 

Had you been dreading a draft call?

 

No; no. You know, in my generation, that was part of growing up.  At some point, you know, you would either volunteer to become part of the then, what was very fascinating all-Hawai‘i company, which on 4thof July every year, you know, a hundred or so young high school grads would become part of the all-Hawai‘i company.  So, for me, you know, service was just gonna be part of my growing up.

 

So, that service didn’t, in your mind, include combat.

 

No. But it included, you know, doing some time in the military.

 

Right.  And so, even when you got that call, you didn’t say: Oh, my god, I could get sent to Vietnam, I could get put in really difficult circumstances.

 

Yeah; reality … I was nineteen, and that was not, I think, part of my reality. You know, I was young, still making perhaps unwise decisions regarding activities in life, et cetera.  So, for me, yeah, I didn’t feel threatened by it, neither did I feel any kind of overwhelming sense of obligation, other than to serve your country.

 

I understand after being drafted, you could have stayed here, I think.  But you volunteered to go to Vietnam?

 

Yes. Having grown up and hearing the stories from my aunts and uncles, and cousins, regarding our, quote, warrior culture, after training to become a combat medic—

 

Why did you train to be a combat medic?

 

Well, Uncle Sam said that’s—

 

You were designated.

 

Designated.

 

Okay.

 

Yeah; for training.  And you know, they give you a battery of tests, et cetera, and you know, who knows, but you know, fortunately, and I feel I was very blessed to have been selected to become a combat medic.  And after I trained long and hard to do that, when we graduated, all of the new combat medic qualified soldiers would go to the bulletin board to see where their next duty station was.  And the bulk of my class went straight to Vietnam.  I was assigned to San Francisco.  And you know, I didn’t question it.  And then, when I got to San Francisco, I was assigned to Travis Air Force Base.  The unit I was assigned to had a lot of soldiers who had come back from Vietnam, and they maybe had three to six months left on their assignment before they got out of the Army.  And stories that they shared with me in terms of what it was like presented a challenge to me, and I said: You know, given my background and my family history, I don’t ever want to … look back and say, I wonder how I would have done in combat.

 

But it was a different kind of combat.  I mean, it was like no other war we’ve had.

 

Yeah, but you know, for a nineteen-year-old, there’s only one kind of combat.

 

Wasn’t there some Geneva Convention ruling that it’s a war crime to shoot a combat medic who’s clearly identified in combat. But in Vietnam …

 

There were no rules.

 

Forget it.

 

Forget it; right.  And life expectancies for combat medics were worse than first lieutenants.

 

So, you wore weapons.

 

I carried, I carried both sidearm and a rifle.  And you wore nothing that indicated that you were a medic, other than your bag was bigger than the rest.

 

And then, you went out right after people got hurt in combat.

 

My mission, I was with a long-range reconnaissance team.  And so, when someone got wounded, they were generally standing right next to you, so you knew what was going on.  Yeah.

 

So, you could have been hit too.

 

Yeah.

 

Did you fire your weapon?

 

Yes. You know, for me, part of that experience, being twenty by the time I got there, and being young and adventurous, part of my responsibility being on that team was, I had to learn all the duties or all the functions of everyone else.  And as the medic, I trained the members of my team to the best of my ability in terms of, you know, first responder life-saving methods.  So, while with the team, not only did I fire my weapons, but you know, I helped set ambushes, I learned how to call artillery, and learned how to set demolitions and blow charges.  And yeah, you gotta understand, for a twenty-year-old, this is like fun stuff.

 

You don’t feel that it’ll actually hurt you? Do you feel untouchable?

 

You feel immortal.

 

Immortal.

 

Yeah.

 

Yeah.

 

The most foolish kinds of things that one accepts in combat is that if it happens, it happens.  You know. And then, for me, it was, you know, as long as I can get through three of these life-threatening experiences, then I’ll be okay.  I very clearly distinctly remember the three times that I was supposed to have received something fatal, and survived.  And after the third time, it was like, oh, big relief.  I said: Nothing’s gonna happen.

 

I’ve got a force field around me.

 

I’ve got a force field around me.  And then, you just kinda learn how to operate just naturally and freely.  And yeah, you were still concerned, you were still frightened on occasion, but you knew that at the end of the day, nothing’s gonna happen. And you know … nothing happened.

 

But you can’t do that by skill alone; right?

 

It’s luck.

 

It is a matter of chance.

 

No, no, no.  Yeah; you survive combat purely on luck.

 

And meanwhile, you were seeing some scenes you can’t un-see.

 

Yeah.

 

Mutilated limbs and gory stuff.

 

Yeah.

 

Very sad, just grievous injuries.  How did you deal with that?

 

For me, it was just reactionary.  I trained; everyone trained.

 

You compartmentalized?

 

You compartmentalize.  When stuff happened, instinct kicks in.  And you know, I think one of the saving graces of our current force is that our young shooters, as I call them, the young infantry soldiers or the young combat soldiers that have to go to war for us, they are required to train twenty-four/seven.  And it becomes instinctive, it becomes reactionary.  So, when they’re on a patrol, they experience enemy action, they immediately shift into their combat mode.

 

Did you hear the talk that we understand was common at the time, where people were saying: What are we here for, why are here, this war doesn’t make sense.

 

Yeah. We would hear about that or read about that in letters or the newspapers that would occasionally come to us.  But you know, the reality is, at the end of the day in combat, you’re not thinking about fighting for your country, you’re not thinking about fighting to preserve, you know, family values or the constitution, et cetera.  You are simply thinking about saving the life of your buddy on your right and on your left. And you know, the reality is, at the end of the day, if you’ve done your job right and everybody survives, our country will be blessed by that.

 

Did you get really close to the guys you served with?

 

Oh; you know, to this day.  Fifty years ago, I met incredible bunch of young men, and probably spent twenty-four/seven with these men, maybe not more than four or five months with them, but to this day, when I hear their voice, I immediately know who I’m talking to. It’s that special bond that even kind of um, surpasses a familial bond.  You know, I have a relationship and memories of guys that I served with perhaps that run deeper than with my own two siblings.

 

Wow.  And you know, when you’re with somebody who’s terribly hurt, and possibly or inevitably dying, it’s a really intimate time you share.  How was that?

 

Yeah. For me, and the guys most closest to me, if one of our buddies was hit, we were—this is fascinating–we were doing our best to stabilize his condition, but it becomes not quiet and soft, but it becomes a loud, raucous kind of conversation to get their attention, to get them to focus, to get them to hang on and not to give up.  You know, so it’s yelling and screaming.  This is like—you know, I remember the first time that happened, my platoon sergeant, who obviously had been there longer than me, as I was treating one of my wounded buddies, he was shaking him to get him to respond, to wake up, and to fight on before we put him on the helicopter.  And I learned something that day, in terms of first, you know, you’re gonna … do your job to stop the bleeding, prevent the shock, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to get that young soldier’s attention, to get him to focus on things he needs to do.

 

Because that helps him—

 

Him, yeah.

 

–help himself.

 

Help himself.

 

You know, you have seen some things that most people never see, never have to know what it’s like.

 

Yeah.

 

How has that affected you?

 

You know … at times, it causes me to kinda go into a slump, but I’ve always been able to deal with that in terms of, that’s war.  And I kinda kick into this mode where long time ago, I read this passage where, you know, in war there’s only two rules; the first rule is that people die, and then the second rule is that you cannot change rule one.  So, you know, we were at war, people are gonna die, you know, and thank God if you survive, that you survive.

 

That 1968, when you were there, that was a particularly …

 

Yeah.

 

–fatal—

 

Yeah.

 

–grisly year.

 

Yeah.

 

I mean, lots of fatalities.

 

Yeah. I guess the high water mark was 1968; in May, 1968.  And yeah, May 1968 was a particularly bad month for me.

 

What happened?

 

I lost eighteen of my guys.  And but for the grace of God, I would not be here, because ten of ‘em are still missing in action.  The grace of God was that my unit was transitioning from Point A to Point B, and I was not with them that day.  I was back in the rear, getting ready to rejoin them.  Before I could rejoin them at the new location, they were overrun.

 

And some of them were never found, but were you treating your own men?

 

Yeah.

 

In the field.

 

Yeah.

 

May; was that Mother’s Day?

 

May, Mother’s Day.

 

Mother’s Day.

 

Mother’s Day, 1968.  Yeah. I mean … if you can imagine, I mean, you’re a mother, you know how important Mother’s Day is.  That day by itself, you know, to get the message or the knock on your door that your son was killed on Mother’s Day.  I mean …

 

And so now, when Mother’s Day comes around at your home, you think of another meaning for it.

 

Yeah. I am reflective on the mothers of my men who didn’t make it.  And you know, over the past fifty years … that bond I had with their sons, I’ve developed with them.  So, for me, it’s very special.  For me, it’s always been an obligation to assure their mothers whose sons never came home that their sons are superb young men.

 

You made an effort to go do that?

 

Absolutely.  The majority of the men who I lost on Mother’s Day 1968, their mothers and their fathers had absolutely no clue what happened to them.  And to live without any knowledge of what happened, I just couldn’t.  And that’s even worse, you know, to have your son taken from you in combat, and that’s all you know.  He’s not here.  Why? We can’t share that with you, we can’t tell you the circumstances, or what happened on that day.

 

Do you think you had PTSD after the war?

 

I had issues.  I don’t necessarily think it is or was PTSD.  Everybody who experiences combat has issues.  I remember when I first came back from Vietnam, the first month that I was home, it was just party time; right?  You know, I was riding motorcycles back then, and every night we’d go out and … go and enjoy life, tip a few Primos.  And I remember like after a month, one day, my dad came home.  We were passing, I think in the driveway; I was getting ready to go out, and he was coming home from work.  And said: Al.  He said: You have a moment?  I go: Yeah, absolutely.  He told me, he said: You know, son, I won’t even begin to understand what you experienced in Vietnam, and what you’re doing now, you know, I’m not supportive of your behavior and what your conduct is now.  So, you know, how much longer are you going to do this, ‘cause don’t you think you need to start thinking about your future?  I hope you’re not planning to do this the rest of your life.  And I said: No, Dad, I’m just having fun.  But you know, that kinda came home to roost really strong for me, my father saying: Okay, all right, it’s time to kinda like get on with your life.  And, you know, I did.

 

He did it in such a nice way, too.

 

Yeah; he was just an incredible guy.

 

Allen Hoe’s parents had always insisted he would attend college, so when he returned home, he took advantage of two new State institutions for learning.  He enrolled in the new Leeward Community College, later graduating from UH Mānoa, and he was among the first class of law students admitted to the William S. Richardson School of Law.

 

Okay; the style of the day was long hair.

 

Yeah.

 

So, did you go back from the war with your short haircut, to—

 

Long hair.

 

–long hair.

 

Yeah.

 

And did you see anti-war protests?

 

Oh, yeah; yeah.  You know …

 

How did you feel about them?

 

You know, this may sound strange, but to me, that was just part of our great democracy.  You know, I tell people: Yeah, I have no problems with the protests, the marchers, and the anti-war people, even when I was in Vietnam.  I said: Hey, that’s what we’re here for, to give them the right to exercise, you know, their freedom.  And it truly did not bother me.  One of the things, though, that did bother me was, a couple of the young Leeward students were egged on by this group to pull down the American flag. And four of us Vietnam veterans stood ‘em off, and we said: You touch that flag, and you’re gonna go down.  And … they left the flag alone.  I said: You can protest the war all you want, but you’re not gonna come and touch this flag.

 

And that was a spontaneous act by the four of you?

 

Yeah.

 

Did you ever get pegged the wrong way when you walked around campus with the long hair?  I mean, did people assume anything about you that wasn’t true?

 

The wife of a soldier who was in one of my classes, her husband was a career soldier, had not been in combat.  And she made this kind of strange comment to me.  She said: Why are you so angry?  And I said: What do you mean?  She said: There’s this hate that comes from your eyes.  And I said: Your husband’s a soldier, has he been in combat?  No.  I said: Well, you send him to combat, and this is the look that he will come home with. And she just couldn’t understand that.

 

That it’s not anger.

 

It’s not anger.  People these days, or even for many years, they call it the Thousand-Yard Stare.

 

Allen Hoe’s adjustment to civilian life was bolstered when he met his future wife, Adele.

 

We met actually, I think maybe the second month after I got out of the Army. And you know, when I first saw her, I said: Oh, my god, that is the girl of my dreams.

 

At first look?

 

That first day we spent together.  She was actually a coworker of the sister of one of my dear friends.  So, we just kinda like wound up on not a blind date, but time together.  And she was, or is just a special person.  Yeah; yeah.  Swept me off my feet, so to speak.

 

Adele and Allen Hoe married and shared in the joy of raising two sons: Nainoa and Nakoa.  Both young men chose to be warriors and serve their country.  The elder son, Army First Lieutenant Nainoa Hoe, was killed by a sniper’s bullet while he led a foot patrol in Northern Iraq in 2005.  He was just twenty-seven years old, and had been married for less than a year.

 

My wife and I, Adele, we still hear from the soldiers who served with Nainoa. And that is very comforting to us. He absolutely loved being a soldier. And the fortunate part, if there is anything fortunate about that horrible tragedy, was that his last day on this earth was documented by a writer who wrote an incredible story of how my son spent his last day with his men in combat.  Now, for me, as a father who had experienced combat, that was just an absolutely incredible story.  For me, it was very gratifying to hear how he performed in combat, and how his men just dearly loved him.

 

Yeah; I was so impressed by your son Nakoa.

 

Ah …

 

Seeing him at an event where Nainoa was being spoken of and honored, and all the attention was on the fallen son.  And Nakoa is a very honorable and brave, Army leader in his own right.  Right?

 

Correct.

 

But it was not about him; he was just happy to see Nainoa being celebrated.  I thought, he’s grown up in that shadow of his—

 

Big brother.

 

–his big brother being venerated as a hero.

 

Yeah.

 

And not feeling like: What about me?

 

Yeah. You know, in retrospect, my Hawaiian culture, that’s what led me to name him Nakoa; brave, courageous, strong, army, a soldier.

 

It does take courage to kinda—

 

Yeah; to stand in the shadow.

 

To stand in the shadow; right.

 

Yeah. And he has become just an incredible young man.

 

So much grace.

 

So much grace.

 

Did you teach him that grace?

 

His mother taught him that grace.

How our family and how this community responded when our son was killed, for me, it was very eye-opening.  You know, having survived combat, having witnessed death, it was totally different when that knock came on our door.

 

2005.

 

  1. And then, it’s like our whole world just came screeching to a halt. And then, you know, over the years, I’ve become very close to the Vietnam veterans’ efforts, the memorials, et cetera.  Jan Scruggs is a very dear friend.  And you know, Memorial Day 2005, I was invited to come and be a speaker at the Memorial Day ceremony at The Wall.  It was not the first time I had been there, but that was my first experience when I got there and I looked at the fifty-eight thousand plus names in the wall, including like a whole panel of my guys.  And I just kinda like … stopped, caught my breath, and I said: Oh, my god.  Looking at all these names, you would think that the world would have come to a complete stop.  Because I know my family—

 

For some, it did.

 

Yeah.

 

Many, it did.

 

For some, it did.  And for, you know, my—my experience and my family’s experience, the world did come to a stop.  You know, but there it is, fifty-eight thousand plus names, and we’re still at war.

 

Shortly before our conversation with Allen Hoe in the summer of 2018, he and nine other local Vietnam veterans were honored at what the Army referred to as a long overdue ceremony.  While only ten veterans were selected, the Pentagon report said they represented a large number of soldiers who served in the Southeast Asia conflict, but were never given a proper military ceremony to present awards and medals.  Allen Hoe received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart at the ceremony, and told news reporters it was well worth the wait to have the brigade you went to war with recognized years and years after that war was over.

 

We thank Vietnam Combat Medic Allen Hoe for his time with us, and the work he continues doing in the civilian and military communities.  And we thank you, for joining us.  For more of Allen Hoe’s conversation, including how a flag originally purchased as a souvenir in Vietnam has earned a military record of its own, and why it’s in Hoe’s DNA to be passionate about horses and the sport of polo, please go to PBSHawaii.org and our Long Story Short archives.  I’m Leslie Wilcox for Long Story Short and PBS Hawai‘i.  Aloha nui.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org.  To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

People say: You do so much for the Army.  And I said: You know what, when I have a quiet moment, sitting in my backyard at Maunawili, looking up at Mount Olomana, which was one of Nainoa’s favorite places, I just kinda look up there and I says: All right, son, you didn’t think Dad had enough to do?  So, my mission has been to try and make the lives, and the comfort, and the memory of soldiers who put on the uniform every day for us a little bit better.

 

 

Allen Hoe
A Soldier’s Soldier by Emilie Howlett

ALLEN HOE: A Soldier's Story by Emilie Howlett

 

Leslie Wilcox talks story with Allen HoeAs one of more than two million draftees called upon to fight in the Vietnam War, 19-year-old Allen Hoe thought he would serve his time and then his life would resume as normal. In his conversation on Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, Hoe reflects on the experiences that turned this local boy into a soldier’s soldier.

 

Trained as a combat medic with the Army, he witnessed some of life’s greatest horrors, and these intense circumstances helped forge a life-long bond with the men he served alongside. The politics and ethics of the controversial war and the reasoning behind what they were fighting to preserve came second to “simply thinking about saving the life of your buddy on your right and on your left” recalls Hoe.

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX, Tuesday, November 13, 7:30 pmOn Mother’s Day 1968, one of his greatest fears played out in front of him. While he hung back at headquarters waiting to rejoin the other men in his unit, they were overrun. Hoe lost 18 men from his unit, while several more were captured and held prisoner.

 

While many would seek to close the door on this tragic chapter of their lives, Hoe extended his kindness towards those who felt the loss most profoundly. “I am reflective on the mothers of my men who didn’t make it. And over the past fifty years … that bond I had with their sons, I’ve developed with [the mothers] … It’s always been an obligation to assure their mothers whose sons never came home that their sons are superb young men.”

 

“... my mission has been to try and make the lives and the comfort and the memory of soldiers who put on the uniform every day for us a little bit better.” – Allen Hoe

 

Allen Hoe and the courageous men he had served with.

 

Along with the atrocities he witnessed as a combat medic, the loss of the men he served alongside would follow him long after his tour ended. However, life went on. After returning to Hawai‘i, Hoe found success as an attorney, got married and had two sons.

 

But tragedy struck again. In 2005, his elder son, 27-year-old Army First Lieutenant Nainoa Hoe, was killed by a sniper’s bullet while leading a foot patrol in Northern Iraq. “How our family and how this community responded when our son was killed, it was very eye-opening. You know, having survived combat, having witnessed death, was totally different when that knock came on our door.”

 

While visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day of that same year, seeing the names etched on The Wall, including those of his own men, took on a new resonance. “Looking at all these names, you would think that the world would have come to a complete stop,” Hoe says.

 

Allen Hoe’s own losses inspired a lifelong commitment to healing the wounds of war by supporting those touched by its effects. In June 2018, he was presented with the Mana O Ke Koa award, which honors his unparalleled patronage and his dedication and service toward soldiers, civilians and the U.S. Army Pacific. Hoe has transformed the tragedy in his life into generosity, serving as a guiding light for so many. “So, my mission has been to try and make the lives and the comfort and the memory of soldiers who put on the uniform every day for us a little bit better.”

 

 

The Ultimate Real Estate in a Democracy: Common Ground

 

CEO Message

 

The Ultimate Real Estate in a Democracy: Common Ground

 

KĀKOU – Hawai‘i's Town Hall

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEOAs Hawai‘i real estate keeps getting pricier, I keep thinking of a different kind of real estate that is ultimately more valuable in a democracy.

 

Common ground in our national and local discourse: Priceless.

 

These are days when people don’t just disagree on issues; they have different sets of facts. And there’s a media voice catering to every opinion, affirming what one already believes, whether it’s true or not.

 

We all have reason to worry about our democracy, since its health depends upon shared core values, a level of trust in our leaders, and the reliability of information on which to act.

 

Hawai‘i is by no means seeing the kind of partisan polarization that is gripping the Continent, but we’re struggling to get our arms around and agree upon big issues, such as what to do about homelessness and how to support jobs with increasing automation in the workforce.

 

PBS Hawai‘i brings together Islanders with differing perspectives to engage directly with each other on many top-of-mind subjects and some issues that aren’t considered enough. Real democracies require real discussion.

 

This is not the same as what local daily broadcast news operations do – they generally try to tape separate interviews with the parties, and air the contained sound bites in a two-minute story in the newscast. (It’s not easy to convene people who disagree with each other, especially on short notice.)

 

On our weekly hour-long Insights on PBS Hawai‘i and our periodic two-hour KĀKOU – Hawai‘i’s Town Hall, people on different sides of issues meet face to face – and they’re being televised and streamed live. They show up, because they want to get their message across; because it’s the responsible, responsive thing to do; and because they trust us to treat them fairly. Once in a great while, when an issue is particularly volatile, we’re unable to get pro and con leaders to sit down together. And also infrequently, we end up with a lackluster program because we can’t get participants to depart from canned comments, to have a real conversation.

 

But most times, participants put aside any discomfort they may feel about engaging directly with opponents or critics and answering follow-up questions from our moderator. The best of these participants truly listen, instead of trying to cut short their opponents or simply waiting for their turn to speak. This leads to candid, meaningful exchanges that help viewers develop their own perspectives.

 

With today’s complicated societal challenges keeping us at odds and on hold, our mired democracy seriously needs this kind of civil discourse.

 

When you contribute your hard-earned dollars to PBS Hawai‘i, you are supporting the power of media for public service over profit and politics. And you’re supporting priceless common ground for the common good. Thank you!

 

Aloha nui,

Leslie signature


 

 

KĀKOU – Hawai‘i’s Town Hall
The Future of Work

Program

 

Will you be employable? Will your children?

Conversations about the future and the kind of world our children and their children will inherit from us include familiar concerns and well-defined subjects: The National Debt. Environmental Destruction. Climate Change. Sustainability. But there’s another conversation that needs to happen. Although the workplace has changed throughout the decades, none of us can fully grasp the kind of transformational change that lies ahead. How we work. Where we work. And the skills we need for work will change work – as we know it today – forever.

 
Preview opening clip: Growth Tribe

 

The FUTURE OF WORK is the topic for the next live KĀKOU – Hawai‘i’s Town Hall – Thursday, October 25 from 8:00 – 10:00 pm. Representatives from government, labor and the education and business communities will be joined by workers, parents and students for a community conversation about what is referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the impact it is creating on local economies and employment landscapes – including Hawai‘i’s. Are we preparing our children for a future where disruptive technology will transform the workplace and much of the way we live?

 

What will life in Hawai‘i be like 10, 20 and 30 years from now when technology is firmly embedded and in most cases dominating the workplace? Could this be a positive opportunity to diversify Hawai‘i’s economy and job landscape? How do we prepare future generations for WORK 4.0?

 

 


<< Return to the KĀKOU home page.

 

 

What if… ? Post-it® notes full of questions

 

CEO Message

 

What if... ? Post it® notes full of questions. Ian Kitajima, Chair, new PBS Hawaii Board Committee on Innovation/Futures

Ian Kitajima, Chair, new PBS Hawai‘i Board Committee on Innovation/Futures

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEOAlbert Einstein might have gotten a kick out of attending a monthly meeting of our newest Board committee. After all, he said:

 

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask – for once I knew the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

 

Our Board Committee on Innovation/Futures may be as passionate about questions as Dr. Einstein, but its questions are a group discipline and the pace tends to be fast. One committee member’s question will ignite a question from another member, and so on. Questions are jotted down as soon as they come to mind. In three monthly meetings so far, the committee has filled up enough Post-it notes to paper a small room.

 

Question after question after question: “Who defines quality and what is it?”; “Does high quality equate to sustainability?”; Will the need to consume fast media outweigh the need for quality media?”; “What are our metrics? Do we need new ones?”; “What are the new distribution models and their impact?”; “What is the best use of LIVE?”; “Where is the intersection between public service and innovation?”

 

PBS Hawai‘i Board Chair Jason Fujimoto established this new Board committee to discern opportunities and threats amid the disruptions in a world of rapid change.

 

Committee Chair Ian Kitajima, who explains his day job as a “tech sherpa” at problem-solving company Oceanit, says his approach is to get out of the rut of common assumptions and sharpen the questions. His committee is mostly composed of non-Board members who hold jobs in strategy and are veterans of training in design thinking. Some staffers participate, too.

 

Design thinking seeks to understand users, challenge assumptions and redefine problems, in trying to identify alternate strategies and solutions. Let’s see what they come up with in reimagining elements of your PBS Hawai‘i.

 

Mahalo to members of Ian’s PBS Hawai‘i Board Committee on Innovation/Futures: Stacy Clayton, Brian Dote, Justin Hernandez (California), Aaron Kagawa, Ryan Kanno (Japan), Kevin Kawahara, Ravi Pare and Huy Vo.

 

We can’t claim Dr. Einstein as a committee member, but his attitude permeates the room: “The important thing is not to stop questioning…. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

 

Aloha nui,

Leslie signature


 

 

NOVA
Making North America: Human

 

Mighty, elemental forces molded North America – fiery eruptions, titanic floods, the grinding of great ice sheets and massive impacts from space all shaped our homeland. The epic three-part series unfolds in a forgotten world that existed long before our own, crossed by long-lost mountain ranges, deserts the size of Africa and vast inland seas spanning the length of the continent. Hosted by renowned paleontologist Kirk Johnson, this spectacular road trip through a tumultuous deep past explores three fundamental questions: How was the continent built? How did life evolve here? And how has the continent shaped us?

 

Making North America: Human
From Ice Age to oil boom, discover the challenges faced and the wealth uncovered as humans take over the continent. How did we turn rocks into riches? And what catastrophic natural disasters could threaten the civilization we’ve built?

 

 

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
The Island Murder

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Island Murder

 

In the waning days of summer 1931, Honolulu’s tropical tranquility was shattered when a young Navy wife made a drastic allegation of rape against five nonwhite islanders. What unfolded in the following days and weeks was a racially-charged murder case that would make headlines across the nation, enrage Hawai’i’s native population, and galvanize the island’s law enforcers and the nation’s social elite.

 

 

Into The Night: Portraits of Life and Death

 

Learn how an astrophysicist, preacher, philosopher and artisanal mortician grapple with universal questions of mortality. Weaving science, cryonics, near death stories and green burials, this film invites us to rethink our place in the universe.

 

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Sacha Pfeiffer

 

Sacha Pfeiffer was part of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative team, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003 for exposing the Roman Catholic Church’s cover-up of clergy sex abuse. The story behind the reporting was made into the 2015 Oscar-winning film, Spotlight. This interview with Pfeiffer is from a February 2017 community conversation about the importance of asking difficult questions, even when the answers threaten the fabric of close-knit communities.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Oct. 8, at 4:00 pm.

 

Sacha Pfeiffer Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

My job has given me an incredibly joyful and meaningful life. I get paid to ask questions for a living. How much fun is that? It’s always interesting. You get access to all sorts of worlds. And I’ve also learned, because of some of the work we’ve done, that on a very good day, you can also do incredible positive change. And so, I hope tonight, part of what we can do is celebrate journalism. Because as all of you know, if you’ve paid attention to the news, it’s a very perilous time for the journalism world. You know, the newspaper industry has had financially catastrophic sort of turn of events in recent years, essentially a collapsed business model that it’s still trying to figure out how to replace. And at the same time, we have a political climate now in which the press is sort of portrayed as the enemy.

 

Sasha Pfeiffer was one of five journalists on The Boston Globe’s elite investigative team called Spotlight. That’s also the title of the Academy Award-winning film about the reporters’ shocking findings with a transformational outcome. The Spotlight team never could have predicted that they would expose an almost unimaginable conspiracy that reached far beyond Boston’s Roman Catholic Diocese. Their pursuit of clergy sex abuse was controversial. But the newspaper built its case on the weight of evidence. The power of truth telling in our conversation with Sacha Pfeiffer, next, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawai‘i’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. For this edition of Long Story Short, we’ll take you to a special event in Honolulu organized by the Hawai‘i Leadership Forum before an audience. Our guest is Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Glove journalist, Sacha Pfeiffer, who was played in the Oscar-winning movie Spotlight by actress Rachel McAdams. As part of an investigative team, Pfeiffer interviewed men in Boston who told of being sexually abused as children, sometimes for years, by Roman Catholic priests. What emerged was a pervasive Church culture that tolerated, and even protected child molesters. And not only in Boston. Sacha Pfeiffer joined us for a conversation about truth telling, and truth to power journalism.

 

How’s the cake?

 

It’s pretty good. You saving yours?

 

Nah. I can never eat those things. They kind of oppress me.

 

I know. From Washington?

 

Yeah.

 

Very interesting.

 

I’m not asking you to. All I’m asking is, who’s behind it. M-hm. Okay; I get it. You don’t want to talk. No, Dad, I’m not mad, I’m hungry. I’ve been talking here so long, I didn’t eat lunch. So, I’m gonna go get something to eat, and that’ll give you an hour to decide whether you want to be on the right side of this, or read about it like everybody else. Bye, Dad.

 

You think Cahill has something?

 

Maybe. I just don’t think the story is for us.

 

Ben likes it.

 

Yeah, it’s not bad. It’s just not Spotlight.

 

What’s just not Spotlight?

 

The PD numbers.

 

The numbers.

 

Oh. You got Cahill to talk?

 

No, but I will.

 

Good.

 

You did your investigative reporting on the Spotlight team on clergy sex abuse in the most Catholic city in the country, by percentage.

 

M-hm.

 

And I think most all of the reporters involved were lapsed Catholics.

 

M-hm.

 

You were also a Protestant, and I think you lapsed there too. And much was made in the Spotlight movie about the outsider coming in, the Jewish guy running the paper and saying, You guys need to explore that.

 

Yeah.

 

Could you talk a little bit about that?

 

Yeah; this is in reference to Marty Baron, who was the editor of The Globe when I was there, and who is now the executive editor of The Washington Post, a paper that’s doing some of the most dynamic work in the country right now. And, yeah. And Marty is a tremendous, tremendous leader. He’s an exceptional leader, he’s a very gift editor. He has this incredibly pure moral compass, which I really love about Marty. The movie makes a lot of Marty having been Jewish. I think they took a little fictional license there. I mean, I think, yes, they wanted to portray sort of the outsider. But I think what Marty showed is that sometimes when you bring a set of fresh eyes to something, it makes an enormous difference. I mean, we began our project because there had been a priest named John Geoghan who had a long history of abusing kids, and there were many lawsuits filed against him. All those cases had been sealed in the court. The Church asked the court to seal the cases, the court did. Marty came to town from the Miami Herald, and he said, Why are these cases sealed? And there was this uncomfortable silence in this news meeting, because all of us were so used to just accepting that those files are sealed, we can’t access them, that we hadn’t questioned it. So, Marty told the Spotlight team, Go find out what you can. And at the same time, he asked The Globe’s lawyers to try to unseal those files, which they successfully did after several months. So, I think again, fresh eyes can make a difference in coming to a place that’s been used to the same thing for a long time.

 

I’m sure you knew when you started poking around, and you started going to press, that you would become targets. Who are these people? What’s the vendetta about?

 

Because Boson is so Catholic, we were worried that we might be picketed, or there would be protests. We got none of that. And I think that part of why that didn’t happen is that, you know, we were able to get into the Arch Diocese of Boston’s file cabinets. We were able to access all of their clergy personnel records. So, these weren’t stories based on anonymous sources; these were record by the Church itself. And I think that when a project is that bulletproof, it makes it hard to blame the messenger.

 

I guess it was Mr. Baron who had the idea of, Don’t go after individual priests because we’ve heard of individual priests for so long; go after how the Church institution treated the priests. And you showed evidence of passing priests. They call it passing the trash, or mobile molesters, from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

 

Yeah. I mean, this was Marty’s mantra. Is that, you know, for years, The Globe and other publications had written stories about priests that abused children. We were looking not simply at that, but about Church officials who cover up for priests who abused children, who systematically would get reports, and then shift priests to other places. And in the pre-internet era, if you sent someone thirty miles north of Boston, the people who lived thirty miles south of Boston would lose that person. You wouldn’t know where they went. So, that was our goal the whole time, is to focus on the system.

 

I know what you must be thinking. Like, why would I ever do that to some creepy guy who’s thirty years older than me? But what we have to understand is that this is the first time in my life that someone told me that it was okay to be gay.

 

Mm.

 

And it was a priest. I’m sorry; I knew I was gonna do this. Oh, I’m sorry.

 

Don’t be sorry. It’s okay. Joe, it’s okay.

 

Of course, there is a church right there, and a playground.

 

Joe, did you ever try and tell anyone?

 

Like who; a priest?

 

You know, often reporters are doing stories as a team, they get really excited about nailing an interview, or catching someone in a lie, and you see high-fives. But this is not the kind of series that would produce that kind of rejoicing.

 

No. I mean, it was pretty sombering. And, you know, we had some very dad, intense conversations with adult men who, when they were adolescents or children, had been abused by priest. And again, very intense, very emotional. But, you know, you also become angry, because you realize someone has been damaged at a formative time in their life, and it’s hard to recover from that. And I think anger is a motivational tool, and that’s what it was for us.

 

The most haunting moment in the film to me—and when you get a chance to ask questions, please mention yours if it’s appropriate—I think it was Father Paquin. And I think you knocked on his door, and he told you, I was just fooling around.

 

Hi, there. I’m looking for Ronald Paquin.

 

Yes?

 

You’re Father Paquin?

 

Yes, that’s right.

 

I’m Sacha Pfeiffer from The Boston Globe.

 

Okay.

 

Could I ask you a few questions?

 

Go ahead; yes.

 

We spoke to several men who knew you when they were boys at St. John the Baptist in Haverhill. They told us you molested them. Is that true?

 

Sure; I fooled around. But I never felt gratified, myself.

 

Right. But you admit to molesting boys at St. John the Baptist?

 

Yes, yes. But as I said, I never got any pleasure from it. That’s important to understand.

 

Right.

 

Yeah. You know, a lot of people have asked whether I thought that priest had dementia. And I don’t think so. I think you really just saw this twisted rationalization for why they did what they did. I think for me, the biggest unanswered question is the why. I mean, there are many theories about why it happened, but that’s a really hard one to answer.

 

And you devoted some of your coverage to why.

 

Oh, we did. I mean, we ended up writing for about a year and a half about this issue. And we didn’t just write about priests who abused children; we basically followed the story as it tentacled. So, we looked at why did this happen, was it because the lady wasn’t very involved, was it because women couldn’t be priests, if women had been more involved would this not have happened. As the Arch Diocese of Boston began settling a lot of cases, it hurt the Church financially. So, we wrote about the Church being on the brink of bankruptcy, the Cardinal resigned eventually. So, it became a daily beat, essentially. You know, when I joined the Spotlight team, Spotlight had been known for basically doing a story or two a year, maybe. They came in at nine, and they left at five, which is very rare in the newspaper world. And someone had said to me, Enjoy your early retirement. Which I thought was funny. But my experience with Spotlight was nothing like retirement, because basically, once that story broke, it became a daily beat, a competitive beat, where national newspapers were following it. So, it was very intense.

 

This event is called The Transformative Power of Truth Telling. What kinds of results did you see from this one and a half or two-year investigation?

 

You know, I think this will sound so basic. But in way, the gigantic lesson of this project was the importance of questioning authority. Part of why this happened is that the Catholic Church in Boston had so much deference that people looked the other way; they stopped asking questions. My grandmother, who’s depicted in the movie, was so devout.

 

 

Sacha, can I have a drink of water?

 

Yeah; sure, Nana. Yeah.

 

And I remember that when the story came out, she said to me, I can’t believe this happened, because we all though the priests were little gods. And I remember thinking, And that’s why it happened. Because when you think someone is a god, you’re not going to ask tough questions, and even if you suspect that something’s not right you might look the other way. So, I think it’s an important reminder to all of us for why we need to ask very difficult questions of people in high places.

 

And I’m sure some journalists in here remember there were calls in Hawaii to newsrooms, where it would be somebody who didn’t identify himself, he seemed very much in pain, maybe stuttered, and he would say, I was abused by a priest. He would say the priest’s name, but he didn’t want to say the timeframe, and he said there were no witnesses, and he didn’t tell anyone at the time, and no, he didn’t talk to the police, he didn’t speak to a lawyer. And he didn’t want his name used. So, what are you gonna do with that? So, it really required a different approach. And of course, later, as these boys grew up, they did seek out lawyers; some of them.

 

Yeah. You know, the movie makes clear that probably The Globe could have done these stories earlier than it did. But I think in a way, it ended up beneficial that we waited ‘til we did. Because first of all, it was the very beginning of the internet era, so our stories went online, and instead of being read only by people who got The Globe delivered to their doorstep, they were read by people all over the country. So, our phones began ringing off the hook with people from Washington State, Texas, Maine, Florida, saying you know, I was also abused by Father Paquin, I was also abused by Father Birminghan. So, confirmation came from around the country. And I think that Boston was more ready to accept a story like this. I’m not sure if we had written these stories in the 60s, or 70s, or even 80s, when the deference was still so high, that they could have accepted it, and maybe The Globe would have been picketed and protested. But I think the city was ready.

 

Was there corporate pressure? Okay, enough of the series, enough about the Catholic Church?

 

No, you know, there was one editor who, after we had been writing for a few months, felt like, Is this enough? But he basically was overruled, and several months after that, Cardinal Law resigned. Which I think showed you that we were right to keep up with it. But no, other than that, I would say no pressure. I think that we recognized the story had to be done.

 

What’s up?

 

Another time, Jim. There are cover-up stories on seventy priests. But the boss isn’t gonna run it unless I get confirmation from your side.

 

Are you out of your mind?

 

Come on. This is our town, Jimmy. Everybody knew something was going on, and no one did a thing. We’ve got to put an end to it.

 

Don’t tell me what I gotta do. Yeah, I helped defend these scumbags, but that’s my job, Robby. I was doing my job.

 

Yeah. You and everyone else.

 

I think we were all conscious that this was gonna take a toll of sorts on our family members, potentially. But it didn’t make us feel that we couldn’t do it. My mom, who’s also very Catholic—I think I told you this earlier. She wanted to be a nun, but at the time, convents were cloistered, so once you went in, you could only come out about three times or so. And her mother begged her not to do it, not to become a nun. And so, I remember that my mom, I didn’t hear from her for a while after our stories began to be published. And I think that my mom had to make peace with the fact that her daughter had played a role in something that was damaging to this institution she loved, even though I think she recognized that that story had to be told.

 

When reporters start on a story like this, they have a pretty good idea of at least how it’s gonna start. Did it take you to places you didn’t expect?

 

Oh, yeah. I mean, I don’t think any of us ever imagined it could possibly be at this scale. I mean, early on, we realized there may be as many as seven priests, and that seemed shocking to us. And then, in a few weeks, we realized the number was probably twenty. And then, by the time we published, we knew it was seventy. And then, we quickly learned that actually, it was hundreds. So, I think we went into this having absolutely no idea what we would find.

 

What did you find when you asked the question, Why? Why so much molestation?

 

Well, I mean, I think that there are so many theories for that. But I think that what I believe played a role is that, at least back in the 50s, and 60s, and 70s, boys who were gonna become priests actually went to pre-seminary. So, sometimes, you went to priest school, essentially, as early as age twelve. And I think that you’re at this formative stage in your adolescence in terms of your sexuality, and I think everything became sort of stunted in a way. There was a psychotherapist who was depicted in the movie who talked about … that it was sort of a version of arrested development. And I think you end up having these very immature priests who weren’t sure how to have relationships, and I think it expressed itself in an incredibly tragic way.

 

What did you see of the victims? I mean, after they were grown up, and they’d been in adult life for some time, what were they like?

 

You know, I think all of us know that sexual abuse is one of the most terrible things that can happen to someone, and if it’s also by a leader person and authority like a priest, it’s even more damaging. And so, I think that it’s hard to ever recover from that. And we saw that.

 

And these boys were pretty sure that other people knew that they were being taken to a rector’s office or a church office. It was a pattern, but nobody spoke up for them.

 

Yeah. Or sometimes, people did speak up, and they weren’t believed. Their parents may not believe them. And that, I think, compounded the tragedy. So, it was a culture of secrecy.

 

Hi.

 

Hi.

 

I’m Sacha Pfeiffer from The Boston Globe.

 

Yeah; what do you want?

 

I’d like to speak with Thomas Kennedy.

 

He doesn’t live here anymore.

 

Do you know where he lives? Sir, I’d just like to ask a few—

 

Sacha Pfeiffer, Boston Globe.

 

Oh, yeah. Hi.

 

Hi. Thank you. Anything else you can recall?

 

No.

 

No. But I got a cousin in Quincy; she saw him on the street a few years later.

 

The bishop came over the house. He said nothing like this had ever happened before, and he asked us not press charges.

 

And what did your mother do?

 

My mother? She put out fricking cookies.

 

 

Here, we saw a couple of priests who were named in lawsuits and in accusations. And one molested someone for quite some time, and then mentioned him to someone else, and that person picked it up. It was really hard to hear about.

 

Yeah. After our stories began to run, I got a few calls from people who would say things to the effect of, What was in the water in Boston, why did your priests have these issues? But they were missing the point, which is that in almost every city in which this has been looked into, it happened. And it was just a systematic problem, and if you had the ability to get into the files, you would often find out it happened in every city where there was a major Catholic presence.

 

What is an investigative journalist? Because other reporters who are assigned to other areas of coverage, they do stories. What’s the difference?

 

Yeah. I mean, many people believe, and I think I agree with this, that there really shouldn’t be a distinction between a reporter and an investigative reporter. There are some people whose fulltime job is just to do long-term investigative stories. But really, any beat you have in addition to the daily news and the feature stories you’re looking for, ideally the beat reporter would be looking for investigative stories to do as well. So, there’s no argument that there’s no distinction.

 

You work for a commercial newspaper, and we have nonprofit news folks here. Any thoughts on what business model is best to get journalism that truly matters?

 

No. I mean, I think that is the question that everyone is trying to figure out right now. What is the new business model? I mean, it used to be that if you were a department store and you wanted to advertiser, if you wanted to place a classified ad, you went to your newspaper. That all changed with things like Craigslist; right? So, no one quite has figured out how to replace that business model, but that’s the key, I think, to making the industry survive.

 

One of our attendees has a question, which follows right along. What would you like to see happen to the news, going forward? What would you like to see it evolve into?

 

That’s such a big, broad question. I mean, I just hope the news survives. I hope that people realize that it’s worth paying for. And for those of you who are digital subscribers or print subscribers to a newspaper, thank you. If you’re not, I feel like every time I have a captive audience, I can’t help but give that sales pitch. You know, when you buy a newspaper or you make a contribution to an organized nonprofit like Civil Beat, that’s what pays for the reporters to do what they do. So, I hope that you realize that there’s a direct connection between keeping the news alive and being a subscriber or a donor.

 

Another question from the audience. After your courageous investigation, what have you learned about people? Are we basically good, and if so, what do we make of the evil that people are capable of committing?

 

That’s another one hard to answer. I guess I’d just go back to what I said earlier, which is, we have to always be willing to ask very tough questions of powerful people and powerful institution, and nonprofits, and businesses. You know, tonight, we’re talking about truth telling. And that’s really what I think journalism is. So, we just have to be always willing to question authority and ask tough questions.

 

What are some of the areas that most need sunshine or transparency in truth telling?

 

Government, always. Because I think, unfortunately, what often motivates people to go into government and politics is not a sense of public service, but power and access. So, I think that that makes it very important for us to keep tabs on that. I definitely believe the nonprofit sector is one, because too often, it does get a pass. And obviously businesses. I mean, I think everything.

 

Do journalists take oaths of ethics, like lawyers or doctors, the Hippocratic oath?

 

We don’t officially, but it’s a job that involves an enormous amount of judgment and ethics all the time. What we cover, how we cover it, when we stop covering it. You know, you have people tell you very sensitive information, and we interview children. I mean, there’s an enormous of amount judgment, and that’s why you need to make sure you have reporters with high ethics, and editors with high ethics.

 

The New York Times is using headlines that say, Trump Lies. That’s a policy now. What do you think about that? You know, it’s not your policy, it’s the paper, but what about—

 

I think it has to be case-by-case. But I think sometimes, we have to call things for what they are. And you know, Marty Baron, again, the former Globe reporter now with The Post. You know, President Trump has said that he’s at war with the press. And as Marty said, and it’s beautifully said; We’re not at war, we’re just at work. You know. I mean, that’s …

 

Great line; great line.

 

It is a great line.

 

These are two kind of related questions. What are some of the investigative stories you most admire, and why?

 

I think I admire all of it. I think, you know, when you do investigative reporting, it probably is gonna keep you out of the paper or off the air for a while. And that makes reporters feel uneasy, because you’re judged in part by your productivity. So, you have to hope you have the backing of a strong editor and publisher who recognizes that you may not see your byline for a while, you may not see that person on the air for a while, but hopefully what they deliver will have been worth the time.

 

Here’s another question from an attendee. Given your experience, what do you think warrants deeper investigation in terms of investigative reporting? What’s the contemporary iceberg that we need to go deep and see?

 

I think the past few months have clearly showed us government. I mean, it’s gonna be harder than ever to get information. And the other interesting thing is … I think that there’s also another thing the media is going through is trying to decide, Okay, what is the value of sitting through a presidential briefing? You know, someone has suggested that maybe you send the interns to the briefing, they take down what was said, and really, what the reporters need to do now is do all the tough digging, and have to rely on civil servants to give them information. It’s a very challenging time to be a reporter right now.

 

It is. And we’ve seen in debates and in other live coverage, a reporter will miss a factual mistake by a newsmaker, and then get called on the carpet for it.

 

Right. The media critic for The Washington Post is a woman named Margaret Sullivan. She used to be with The New York Times. And I think it was Margaret that wrote recently about how some of the NPR hosts, who are excellent, when they do live interviews, you can have a situation where the person you’re interviewing says something that is incorrect. And even if you’re very prepared for that interview, you may not realize that something incorrect was just said, and it’s almost virtually impossible to correct after it’s been said in that forum. So now, there’s a debate out; should they be doing fewer live interviews, since you don’t have the ability to fact check in time. Because of all the changes happening politically, it’s making the media have to really rethink about it does its job.

 

After sharing the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for public service with The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, Sacha Pfeiffer left the newspaper in 2008 as the paper struggled financially. For six years, she worked for Boston’s Public Radio Station. At the time of this conversation in 2017, she’s back at The Globe writing about wealth, philanthropy, and nonprofits. Sacha Pfeiffer is a gifted journalist and author who is matter-of-fact about speaking truth to power. We’ve been very fortunate to share an evening with her in Honolulu. Mahalo to the Hawai‘i Leadership Forum for conceiving and organizing this event. I’m Leslie Wilcox with PBS Hawai‘i and Long Story Short. Aloha, a hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes store, or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

I think they did a …

 

You know, what was really interesting was, most people only get to see these movie stars on the red carpet or in a movies. We got to see them prepare for these roles, and it was really impressive to see the amount of work they did. I mean, they spent time with all of us individually, we spent a lot of time socializing with them. And I realized later, what I thought was socializing was research for them. I mean, we all of a sudden were seeing mannerisms depicted on the screen, and we began to realize all the time they spent with us, they were dissecting, they were observing, they were analyzing.

 

So, they work hard to be as good as they are.

 

[END]

 

 

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