The Way Journalism Works in Hawaii — Or Doesn't08/26/2011
Residents of Hawaii awoke Friday to a front-page banner headline in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about a big increase in tuition at UH-Manoa.
"Regents propose raising UH-Manoa tuition by $528," it read.
One big problem: It was wrong.
The newspaper got the size of the tuition increase from a press release issued by UH Thursday afternoon. The press release said: "Increases will include $264 per semester at UH Mānoa in the first year, $240 per semester at UH Hilo, and $96 per semester at the community colleges. UH West O‘ahu, which faces start-up costs that more established campuses do not, will consider a $458 per semester increase in the first year."
However, the press release also included a link to the actual tables showing the proposed changes in tuition. Those tables showed a $132 increase per semester in the first year for UH Manoa. (UH issued an updated press release Friday morning correcting its mistake.)
The problem started with UH, which blew its message.
But some members of the press didn't do their job, either.
The Star-Advertiser wasn't alone.
The story went national, thanks to the Associated Press. Even Forbes, one of the sources for business news, carried an incorrect AP article.
The Maui News ran with the wrong numbers.
Pacific Business News did the same.
Look, everybody makes errors, in this case including the university itself. And, of course, Civil Beat has made its own mistakes.
But this particular error reveals something about how journalism is being practiced in Hawaii — and that's that reporters and editors are relying on press releases for their information, instead of taking the time to do their own research.