Ka ‘Ohana celebrates 45th anniversary

Windward Community College’s Ka ‘Ohana newspaper’s first edition cover, May 1973

This issue of Ka ‘Ohana marks a milestone as we celebrate our 45th year in publication.

Over the years, Ka ‘Ohana has grown to become a training ground for student journalists to hone their storytelling skills and establish connections that will benefit them later in their careers.

Advised by journalism instructor Kimberlee Bassford and produced by student reporters, editors, photographers and designers in the JOUR 287V: Newspaper Production course, Ka ‘Ohana is published monthly and covers both campus and community news.

Ka ‘Ohana (meaning “The Family”) began in May 1973 as a small student-run paper shortly after WCC opened its doors.

Tasked with leading and advising the newly formed student staff was Libby Young, who remained at the helm from 1980 to 2015 when she retired as emeritus professor.

“(Ka ‘Ohana) was already the name of the paper when I became adviser in 1980, but I always thought it fit WCC well because our campus has such a ‘family’ feeling to it where people support and encourage each other,” Young said.

Young remains proud of the work done by student staff and remarks on their hard work.

“Even though we were a student newspaper on a small UH campus, we have always held our students to the highest professional journalism standards,” she said. “I think it showed in the number of WCC students who were able to win daily newspaper and Society of Professional Journalists internships over the years—in competition with journalism majors from four-year campuses.”

Ka ʻOhana has won 12 first place national awards in the annual American Scholastic Press Association competition for college and university student newspapers. It was also named Most Outstanding Community College Newspaper for 2017-2018.

Former Ka ʻOhana staff members have pursued successful print, broadcast, public relations and advertising careers in Hawaiʻi and on the mainland.

Current Ka ʻOhana staff member Patrick Hascall reflects on his early days at the paper.

“When I first started at Ka ‘Ohana as a student, I didn’t know what to expect,” Hascall said. “Then journalism adviser Libby Young, now retired, took me under her wing and through her dedication and professionalism helped me evolve into something I never thought I would be … a writer!”

In the early days of the newspaper, Young was faced with obstacles that almost prevented Ka ‘Ohana from becoming what it is today.

“ … the student newspaper was going through a rough patch,” she said. “The Ka ‘Ohana editors were at odds with WCC’s student government, accusing the student senate at the time of mishandling funds. Student government leaders threatened to cut off funding for the newspaper in retaliation, so there was misunderstanding all around about the role and responsibilities of a campus newspaper and the influence of the student senate over Ka ‘Ohana’s funds.”

Young persevered and utilized her background in journalism to establish a well grounded paper that would survive for decades.

“As the new adviser, I had to win back the confidence of student leaders that the paper was going to follow professional journalistic standards to provide fair, accurate and balanced factual coverage about campus developments and provide a ʻwatchdogʻ voice on campus—and to separate news coverage from editorial opinion so readers could make their own decisions about an issue. That’s how a newspaper is supposed to function, and that’s what I tried to base WCC’s journalism program on,” Young said.

“I loved it so much that I became a student employee in the journalism department, and I have been involved with the paper ever since,” Hascall said.

In 2015, newly hired journalism instructor Kimberlee Bassford became adviser of the newspaper after Young retired.

“Kim is awesome! Change can be hard and at first I thought I was going to have a hard time adjusting to a new adviserʻs teaching style and the changes that would surely follow,” Hascall said. “Yes, things were different, but not for the worst as I had feared. Her enthusiasm, knowledge and professionalism really impressed me, and she has been a joy to work under.”

When describing her hopes for the future of Ka ‘Ohana, Young leaves an important call to action.

“The less informed we are, the easier it is for unscrupulous politicians to manipulate us,” she stressed. “I hope more students see the value in taking a journalism course —especially in these times when it’s important to be able to separate fact from opinion and distinguish legitimate news sources from some of the bogus information that’s out there. Our democracy depends on it.”

To join the staff, pitch a story idea or learn more about the newspaper or WCC’s growing journalism program, contact adviser Kimberlee Bassford at kbassfor@hawaii.edu.


by Eliana Christianson, Ka ‘Ohana Editor in Chief