Reflections from a Dispatch Board Member

The history of newspapers on Molokai is a colorful one. Often times it revolves around the individuals behind the scenes who keep the tenets of journalism alive in our far off-the-grid community.  

I don’t think Catherine Cluett Pactol of New Hampshire, fresh out of college in 2008, had any idea that she would become one of these central figures. Or that she would go on to elevate Molokai further by expanding coverage of Maui County through a job she envisioned for herself at Hawaii Public Radio.

 Fifteen years ago, the responsibilities of editor, publisher and layout artist were burning me out. I was fighting for the Dispatch to stay alive as two other weekly newspapers, the Molokai Advertiser News and the Molokai Times, battled for relevance.

A futon in the office where I spent the night at least once a week and a bit of PTSD were a testament to the times. 

Catherine was hired as an intern but her role quickly turned into interim editor. Within a year she was our full-time editor. And she had taken enough off my plate that I could finally start a family.

It was never easy in those early days. The trust I share (that we share actually) with Catherine as an editor for what’s now the only paper within our tight-knit community, was hard-earned through years of hard work and personal sacrifices on her part. 

Visit the Dispatch office today and you’ll see the walls of the office are completely covered in journalism awards. Realizing she did all this while starting her own family is humbling for me.  

I’m taking this opportunity to thank you Catherine, and your family, for making all of us proud of the work you’ve done at the paper. 

It can only be outdone by the exciting work you’re doing now in public radio. There is no doubt that we will continue to hear your voice years into the future as you continue to shine as a leader in Hawaii’s media landscape. 

So what’s next? A tough act to follow is best followed up with another great act. With that, I’m excited to welcome Jack Kiyonaga as the new official editor here at The Molokai Dispatch. 

 This tall, talented young man has direct family roots in our community. He’s witty, skilled in journalism, and inquisitive. To say he reminds me of myself when I bought the Dispatch in 2005 would be ingratiating on my own behalf. What I’m trying to say is that as a friend of Jack’s, I can’t wait to see how he shines as editor.  

As Chairman of the Dispatch board, I expect him to follow his heart and instincts. To draw on his compassion and his family roots to help us all fight for our voice. Like the editors before him, I want him to continue to serve through his own vision and interpretation of journalistic excellence.

Please join me in congratulating Catherine and Jack for being an important part of our ohana, and for their past and future accomplishments at the paper.

 As a segue, I want to complement these well-wishes with a reminder that as the longest-running independent publisher of news on Molokai, it is my privilege to continue serving you. 

Dedicating our work to the direct benefit of our community is a responsibility I hold in the highest regard. A sincere thank you to all our staff and partners, their families, our advertisers and small businesses. Thank you for supporting the dream of independent journalism for our people.

Todd Yamashita

Chairman, The Molokai Dispatch Board


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