The UH student newspaper just turned 100 years young. Here’s its fascinating origin story
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the 1920s, UH was a sparse campus in Manoa with few buildings and a small student body. Back then the school went by another name ― the College of Hawaii.
Shortly after it became the University of Hawaii, a blind student named Henry Bindt had a vision.
“Henry Bindt thought, ‘I will do this. I will start the first newspaper for the university,’” retired Ka Leo editorial advisor Jay Hartwell said.
In September of 1922, Bindt put out the first issue all by himself and called it The Hawaii Mirror.
But readers thought it needed a name change.
“So they held a contest,” Hartwell said. “By the ninth issue they came up with ‘Ka Leo o Hawaii’ ― the voice of Hawaii.”
Ka Leo’s first front page featured five stories and a photograph above the fold.
Fast forward a century, besides hard copies, the paper has a digital companion. And they’re marking a big milestone: Celebrating the paper’s 100th anniversary.
“This is one of those events that it’s a really happy history to go through,” Editor-in-Chief Amanda Dick said.
To cover the occasion, Ka Leo’s staff worked on a special issue that hit campus newsstands Monday.
“We’ll be featuring Ka Leo through the decades in the beginning. Then the second half will be a normal issue because we still have news and features that we write about,” Dick said.
Thousands of student journalists have worked at Ka Leo. Many former staffers went on to professional careers in the media. Hawaii News Now has some of them in its newsroom.
“The main thing is that the students are leading the newspaper. They’re making the decisions about what should be covered, how it should be covered, and becoming better citizens as a result,” Hartwell said.
Ka Leo is always evolving. When students graduate, others come on board with their own ideas of what is newsworthy and fit to print.
Bindt’s small school paper has come a long way.
“I think he’d be fascinated with how journalism has changed and what we’ve added to it since then,” Dick said.
Here’s to Ka Leo’s next 100 years.
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