Posted by: 지인 | 27 February 2008

Still here. Still grouchy.

The Grouchy Editor has a bone to pick.

Meow.

CNN.com is running this “I-Report” package on last week’s Hawaiʻi Democratic caucuses, but their editors apparently are under the impression that anyone who lives in Hawaiʻi is called Hawaiian.

Their headlines and captions read:
Hawaiians document busy caucuses, ‘island style’
Hawaiians flock to caucus sites, creating long waits and winding lines
Hawaiians endure long caucus lines

Buy a newer edition of your AP Stylebook, editors, and look up the “Hawaiian” entry. Webster’s has been out of touch for a loooong time.

If you go check it out for yourself at CNN.com, you’ll see that the photo slide show, captioned with the third header quoted above, starts out with a shot of a porch full of haoles in Koloa (island of Kauaʻi), and continues on showing more photos and videos of mostly white voters in other white enclaves such as Kailua (Oʻahu) and Kihei (Maui).

I find this both interesting and irritating, in that (1) the word “Hawaiian” is not synonymous with “Hawaiʻi resident,” as is widely assumed, but rather refers to people of Native Hawaiian descent, and (2) almost all of the people shown in the photos and videos (bearing the “Hawaiian” caption) are clearly white, gives a rather inaccurate and demographically distorted picture of the islands’ ethnic makeup.

It’s irritating in the most basic sense. It’s interesting in that, as a former newspaper copy-editor, I think these headlines and headers — and the editorial decisions behind them — probably reveal quite a bit about the racial awareness among CNN’s online newsroom staff, and other news publications that frequently make the same mistake.

Like the people featured in the report, Yobo and I also waited in very long lines at our Oʻahu caucus site, which, like all the other sites, ran out of registration forms and ballots early on. I reregistered on a Xeroxed registration form and eventually cast my vote on the blank side of a small scrap of reused paper. My caucus site, however, unlike those pictured and captured on video on CNN.com, hosted a richly diverse crowd of voters, representing a truer cross-section of the island population — not just white voters with the occasional non-white face scattered every 20 spaces.

I was especially encouraged to see several Hawaiian (for real) voters turn out at our site, along with many, many other voters of color who exercised their right to stand and be counted, even if it took parking a half a mile away, waiting in lines that snaked through parking lots, and enduring the mass confusion and scratch-paper ballots to make their mark.

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Responses

  1. That makes me think of the countless haoles on mainland that were amazed at how many Asians there are in Hawai’i upon returning home from a vacation there. I never quite understand that amazement for many reasons, but then they’re haole, I can’t expect much. :p

  2. Maybe because they watch that MTV reality show set in Hawai’i with overwhelmingly white cast. Heck, the closest I’ve been to those islands is California and Korea and I still get it. Then again I’m also a minority so I’m always on the lookout for this stuff.

  3. I live on the Big Island. The media coverage was very irritating.

  4. Yeah, actually, most outside media coverage of Hawai’i is irritating, come to think of it.


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