Republican legislators callBy Mike Yuen
the state's $30,000 first
Gov. Ben Cayetano, who has criticized the news media for emphasizing the negative, is now a magazine czar.
And in the 28-page first issue of 'Imi Loa, he is mentioned 26 times and urges isle residents "to take time to 'smell the roses.' "
Cayetano didn't review the 14 stories and short items in the full-color, glossy publication's premier issue, said Jackie Kido, Cayetano's communications director, who doubles as the editor in chief of the semi-annual 'Imi Loa.
But Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono did get a prepublication look at a story about her efforts to reduce government regulations that was written by her communications coordinator, Kelli Abe Trifonovitch.
That was done to ensure that Hirono was quoted accurately, Trifonovitch said.
It is 'Imi Loa's blurring of newsmaker and news presenter that has generated questions of the magazine's purpose from Republicans and academics. So has its financing.
As much as possible, the magazine is supposed to be self-sustaining from advertising revenue.
But what the Cayetano administration is doing is competing with private-sector publications for ad dollars to produce "propaganda," insisted House Minority Leader Barbara Marumoto (R, Waialae Iki) and Sen. Sam Slom (R, Kalama Valley).
It cost $30,000 for the printing and distribution of the first issue's 35,000 copies, Kido said. About $27,000 came from seven pages of ads, so only $3,000 of taxpayers' money was used, Kido added.
Gerald Kato, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Hawaii, said Cayetano obviously believes that the media play up negative developments in state government.
The prominent stories in 'Imi Loa -- luring film productions to the isles and Hirono's bureaucracy-cutting assignment -- have been reported by the isle media, he noted.
"But the administration's spin is probably different in the sense of how prominent the governor and his administration should be played," Kato said.
"In the grand American tradition, if you don't like what they're printing, you print your own."
In his introductory message in the magazine, Cayetano declared that reports of "an unresponsive, inefficient bureaucracy" capture the attention of the news media. Yet, he said, "Some things (in state government) are flourishing, and all of us can only end up better if we take notice."
The emergence of 'Imi Loa as the state's flagship publication comes at a time when Kido is assessing the newsletters produced by various departments. Some, such as Hawaii Business Link, which is produced by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, might cease to exist.
Kido said she could not understand the furor over 'Imi Loa. After all, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has a monthly publication that accepts ads from major businesses, such as banks, and no one has questioned the propriety of that.
"I guess the difference is that the state doesn't run $10,000, full-page ads with you folks," she said.
Publisher: Gov. Ben Cayetano.
'Imi Loa at a glance
Staff: Mostly government workers with some free-lance assistance.
Cost: $30,000 for each issue, supported mainly by advertise-ments.
Circulation: 35,000, with each edition randomly distributed to 20,000 households selected by computer.
Price: Free, but subscriptions are available for $8 annually.
Advertising: $4,000 for a full-page ad.
Advertisers: Matson, HMSA, Sea-Land Service Inc., Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co., Kapiolani Health, Hilton Hawaiian Village, HMAA, Aloha Airlines, Campbell Estate