Ben and Kirk Talk Journalism And, Of Course, Politics

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

When Ben Cayetano was a college student during the 1960s, civil rights and the Vietnam War were dominant issues.

The lesson he learned from that period, which he shared with high school journalism students Saturday at the University of Hawaii, was to be skeptical of everything government tells them — especially what the city has to say about rail.

"This project deserves the utmost scrutiny from the members of the profession that you will be joining," he said. "You need to ask the hard questions, to probe, to go beyond what you are being fed by the city."

Cayetano's opponent in the Honolulu mayoral race, Kirk Caldwell, had advice to share with the students as well.

"Dream big" and "believe that we can do better," he said during his remarks at the Journalism Day forum. Journalists deserve credit for having the guts to have a byline and allow themselves to be judged — "good, bad, effective, truthful" — by the public.

Caldwell agreed the rail project deserves a lot of public scrutiny. But, as a supporter, he believes rail is the way to go for a better future.

The candidates also had a lot to say on other issues such as infrastructure and tourism, hinting that the race may become less of a one-issue election.

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