Thursday, August 28, 2008

Great letter to the editor and coverage by Juan Wilson

Juan Wilson's artwork.

In addition to a nice entry and pictures on his website about the "Ferry Free Kauai" event,
Celebration of Ferry Free Anniversary Opposition to HSF is misreported by Garden Island News, Juan Wilson had a spot-on letter to the editor in the Kauai paper today:

"Biased ferry coverage"

"A delightful celebration of one year of no Kauai Superferry service was held yesterday at the county park in Nawiliwili Harbor. Dozens of residents watched hula, played music, paddled in the bay, shared food and shared thoughts on a balmy summer day.

There were two sour notes:

• Chief of Police Darryl Perry would not allow the single pro-Superferry supporter, Kimo Rosen, to attend the festivities, even though celebrants asked that he be included. Perry insisted that Rosen stand about 100 yards off.

• On Sunday, the day of that Nawiliwili anti-ferry event, The Garden Island had a full banner headline “Superferry officials talk of possible return.” There was no mention of the day’s celebration planned at the harbor.

The paper that pretends to report for Kaua‘i can rightfully be condemned as a pipeline for the interests of the flacks trying to drum up support for the Superferry return to Kaua‘i. Their recent coverage of the issue could only have been scripted by PR consultants of the HSF Corporation.

The Sunday page-one top-of-fold article included that “A Web poll conducted by TGI shows that 39 percent of the votes were cast in favor of the Superferry’s presumably immediate return to Kaua‘i.”

Further down on page one it does say that 17 percent thought the ferry should only return after it passes an EIS. But it was not until the continuity on page seven (in a separate paragraph) that TGI reporter Michael Levine mentions that 28 percent said the ferry should never return to Kaua‘i.

The clumsily framed questions about the Superferry were:

A. It should return to Kaua‘i and resume service? 1,166 votes
B. An EIS should be completed before it returns to service on Kauai? 519 votes
C. It should never return? 842 votes
D. It should return to service on Kaua‘i while an EIS is conducted? 328 votes
E. Superferry officials should reach out to the people on Kaua‘i to determine if a return to Kaua‘i should occur? 164 votes

Their order should have been on a gradient, such as from maintaining the status quo to the sharpest change in future circumstances. Namely C, B, E, D, A.

Should option “E” even have been on the poll? Shouldn’t there be a dialog in all circumstances. To date the HSF has only consulted with the mayoral candidates and the Kauai Chamber of Commerce.

There were a total of 2,729 votes in the poll. I suspect all the hundreds of Superferry employees were informed of the poll and encouraged to vote in it. It would be interesting to know from TGI what percentage of Web votes came from off-island ISP addresses.

Even so, I interpret results as 1,361 votes for the ferry to never return (or return only if it passes an EIS). And 1,204 for the ferry to resume service (or provide temporary service only until an EIS is passed).

That reads as 50 percent against imminent return and 44 percent for an imminent return. I view the 164 who voted “E” as undecided. That is a close poll, but one I think was skewed as reported by TGI.

I’m disappointed in those results, and so should be the Superferry Corporation. There is no apparent groundswell of support for the ferry to return to Kaua‘i, even when you can line up the company employees.

To top it off, in Monday’s TGI report on the no Superferry “Jam in the Harbor” celebration the TGI got the story wrong again. Again Michael Levine has the byline. The above-the-fold photo by Dennis Fujimoto show a close-up of a sign reading “Bring Back Da Superferry” held by Kimo Rosen, the only person at Nawiliwili Park who expressed favor with the ferry, and who stood outside the area of the day’s celebration. The title of the article was “Ferry-free Kaua‘i celebrated” with the subtitle “But some residents call for ship’s return.”

I would not call this fair and balanced journalism."

Juan Wilson
Kauai, HI

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