Film school head proposes student news program
The show would offer news from the point of view of UH students
The head of the University of Hawaii film school says he hopes to have his students produce a 30-minute daily news program for broadcast on PBS Hawaii.
Christopher Lee said the program would offer news from the point of view of local students in an age when Hawaii television stations have become less focused on island issues.
"Local news was local at one time when it was locally owned. Now, like most stations in this country, they are conglomerates," Lee told an Associated Press Managing Editors training session on Thursday. "It seems every time I see a new news director has been hired, they come from the mainland, they stay for a few years and they leave again."
As an example of the drift away from local concerns, Lee said weather reports never used to be a major concern for Hawaii viewers. But now, some stations have followed the lead of mainland stations to make the weather a central part of their news broadcast, he said.
Lee, who is the director of the Academy of Creative Media at the University of Hawaii, said he has already talked to the head of PBS Hawaii about a student-produced news program he hopes to start airing within a year.
But he said he would need to have some of those discussions again because the station's president, Mike McCartney, recently quit to lead the Democratic Party of Hawaii.
Lee said he believed Hawaii viewers want to watch news broadcasts that delve deeper into the issues, even though some evidence -- such as Hawaii's low voter turnout -- might indicate otherwise.
"When you get out to some of these community forums that politicians have," Lee said, "people ask some very good questions. That, it seems to me, is largely not reflected in the local stations."
Lee launched the UH film school, which also offers courses on media and how to create video games, about three years ago.
The school has since overseen about 300 student short films, including 37 that have been entered at film festivals worldwide.
Last year, Lee took a leave of absence to serve as executive producer for the movie "Superman Returns."
A former production president for TriStar Pictures and Columbia Pictures, Lee has also supervised such Hollywood films as "Jerry Maguire," "Philadelphia" and "As Good as It Gets."