I“In the end, we strive to produce a masterpiece each issue. We strive to make a difference whether it is encouraging voters to go out and vote during election or presenting our Filipino candidates and building them up so the community can rally behind them.
“One highlight was having a first Fil-Am governor in the nation. This speaks so much about the Filipino community. At the time, our goal and mission aligned with empowering Filipinos to vote as a bloc in electing former Governor Cayetano.”
Dr. Sonido says the HFC has been in the forefront in local Hawaii politics. “We interviewed Mayors Harris and Fasi, Gov Cayetano and other Filipino and non-Filipino politicians and asked them why Filipinos should vote for them. We questioned them about their positions on Filipinos’ unique needs and challenges.”
The interviews have helped Filipinos to learn more about politicians. Inversely, for politicians and policy makers to learn more about Hawaii’s Filipino community, HFC conducts extensive election polls that not only have been useful predictors of who Filipinos are voting come election time, but also which issues are important to them.
“Our polls and analysis have established a name for HFC and we’ve landed TV and radio interviews on them,” said Dr. Sonido.
Fundraising for journalism students
Montesines-Sonido, the passionate publisher who has dedicated most of her working years to the newspaper says, “We are committed to making a difference in people’s lives. That’s why we have planned for over a year now about launching a fundraiser for scholarships for students who plan to pursue a career in journalism so that we have future journalists who will continue our work on our 25th Anniversary commemoration.
“Filipinos are underrepresented in journalism as in other areas like education; and we are committed to have our future journalists to carry on the task we had started; and continue where we will leave off…”
The know-hows of professional journalism is one-half of the equation in media production; but the other, equally crucial half, is meeting money goals, the business end.
“Our editorial product have established a name for ourselves in local media. But making financial ends meet has always been a challenge. In the beginning, we had a partner in the company up to 1996. After that, we have been shouldering all the losses which is substantially big.
“In our 25 years of existence, I remember posting an income only for 5 years and the rest of those years were losses. People don’t realize the amount of money, time and effort put in trying to maintain and keep afloat a community newspaper.
“Surviving in the digital age with the Internet as the main medium of communication has made financial challenges even greater.”
Dr. Sonido said maintaining HFC financially is even more difficult now. “Print media, in general, has been in significant precipitous decline since the advent of social media. Even the most popular and established newspapers either have closed shop or cut back tremendously to survive. For HFC, it was a labor of love that started it, and it is still a labor of love that continues to sustain it. As a financial model, it really never prospered just like most Filipino newspaper. You can’t send your children to college with the profit you earn from it. In fact, we have more losses than income.”
Montesines-Sonido said, “If the community supports the newspaper which exists for them, the chances of surviving is greater. The owners of HFC are supporting it financially for the benefit of the community. But there may come a time when people retire and cannot continue to support it financially. And I dread when that time comes because the community would have lost a voice and advocate on their side.”
While the owners of HFC have reported substantial losses, other ethnic media in the U.S. mainland have reported growth especially at urban centers like New York City and Los Angeles. The Chinese American media and Hispanic media in particular have shown tremendous growth while even many in the mainstream media report sluggish gains at best or have already called it quits.
This suggests that not all ethnic communities are as supportive of their ethnic media. With the Filipino American population being as large as it is, close in number to the Chinese community, there should be no reason why Filipino newspapers cannot enjoy the same success going forward.
What the community says about the Chronicle
In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, members in the community and staff have shared a myriad of opinions on why they are thankful for the Filipino Chronicle in its anniversary issue.
It has always been political with serious editorials. Veteran politician and former senator Will Espero had been following the newspaper from the very beginning. He said: “I enjoy the many issues and topics written about. I also support many of the editorials written by staff.
“HFC is an important resource for Hawaii’s Filipinos and others. It provides timely news and information for all. HFC is a needed outlet for the growing Filipino community.”
Espero, who has contributed legislative updates to the newspaper over his many years in public office, added, “Being a diverse, multi-cultural community, it is important that the Filipino voice be heard. The Filipino perspective is needed for policy makers, decision makers, business, and elected officials. We Filipinos must be involved and engaged. We must stay informed and in tune with the issues and changes impacting our state and nation.
“The coverage of Filipino candidates was useful in the recent elections. I was not aware some candidates had Filipino ancestry,” he said.
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