Hawaii's Lack of Protection for Journalists Poses Challenges to Covering Wrongdoing

May 24, 2019

Aliiolani Hale is one of several historic courtrooms used by the Hawaii Supreme Court.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

As the first week of deliberation in a high-profile corruption trial concludes, the position of local journalists covering the case has been exposed as precarious. 

At one point, in the week leading up to the first of three trials involving former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and former Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, it appeared that Hawaii News Now investigative reporter Lynn Kawano would be called as a witness in the trial.

It was a move characterized by Kawano as an effort to keep her from covering the case. In the end, she was crossed off the list, but the incident highlighted the risks that journalists in Hawaii run in covering crimes and misdeeds. 

As First Amendment Attorney and University of Hawaii Regent Jeff Portnoy told The Conversation, Hawaii no longer has any statutory protections for journalists carrying out their duties.