You read that right: veteran investigative reporter Keoki Kerr is going to work for the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA). Kerr will handle all communications and media affairs for the powerful 13,500-member union.
“We are pleased to welcome Keoki to our team. His reputation as a fair and accurate reporter on issues that impact our community, combined with his personal commitment to building volunteers, mentoring young people and coordinating community events will be valuable to our organization,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. “We look forward to working with Keoki as we continue to advocate for Hawaii’s public school teachers and the education of our keiki.”
Kerr has worked as an investigative reporter at Hawaii News Now since 2012, but his byline has appeared all over the media landscape: KITV, the Associated Press, National Public Radio, ABC, CBS and UPI radio networks, old Honolulu Weekly and Honolulu Magazine, among others. He’s also 21 first-place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, as well as an award from the Associated Press TV and Radio Association.
Even though based in Honolulu, Kerr still broke important stories on Maui, like this one: “EXCLUSIVE: 3 Maui prison recruits fired after fight, stabbing.”
The migration of journalists to communications jobs is nothing new (County of Maui Communications Director Rod Antone used to work as a reporter for KHON, KHNL and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin), but the magnitude of this move surprised me. Then again, given the fact that journalism in all mediums has been contracting for years, and local publications like the Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Weekly no longer exist, the reason’s probably staring me in the face. In any case, I asked why Kerr would he make such a move.
“I’ve been a news reporter full-time for 25 years and started seven years before that when I was in high school,” he emailed me on Mar. 25. “So I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve always thought of journalism as a noble profession in which I was advocating for taxpayers and the public. I’ve decided it’s time to do something new and advocating for teachers and students is a great mission, just like journalism.”
Kerr starts work at the HSTA on April 15.
Photo courtesy Keoki Kerr’s LinkedIn page