Lava flows from Mauna Loa on December 04, 2022. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
The end of the year is already a natural milestone for reflection and making resolutions for the future, but for Hawaii Bulletin it’s also a necessary one. While Hawaii Bulletin will continue, it’s moving, making this the last article to be published on Meta’s Bulletin platform.
I know that it has been a month since the last article, and I apologize. Hawaii Bulletin will soon become truly a labor of love, and I’ve been rearranging things to keep it going.
I sincerely hope you’ll stick around, as I have plans to make Hawaii Bulletin even better as we transition to a different service. No matter what, though, the last year and a half have been incredible—and you, dear reader, are a huge part of that.
Mahalo. Thank you.
What do subscribers need to do?
Nothing! You will continue to receive Hawaii Bulletin, but the next issue will come from Substack.
What do web readers need to do?
What else is changing?
From a technology standpoint, hopefully nothing. From a content standpoint, I have some ideas. (Of course!) Find them below, and please do tell me what you think about it all!
The birth of Bulletin
On June 1, 2021, I received an email with the subject line, “Newsletter Opportunity for Local Journalists.” I had sent in a pitch months earlier on a whim:
Island innovation in focus. Hawaii science, technology, startups and entrepreneurs, featuring local leaders, creators, educators, and more, including place-based initiatives and indigenous knowledge.
Someone read it, and liked it, and when Facebook launched its Bulletin service one month later, I was honored to be among 25 journalists selected to publish on the new platform. I was the only writer from Hawaii among the more than 125 diverse writers on Bulletin, including notable wordsmiths Malcolm Gladwell, Mitch Albom, Malala Yousafzai, and Tan France.
I relished the opportunity to try a new format, and to reach a different audience. I was lucky to get access to amazing workshops on writing and entrepreneurship (including a program from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY). And the Bulletin team was fabulous (Samantha Bennet and Umazi Mvurya especially), both for their conscientious stewardship of their contributors, and for incredibly responsive and lightning-fast development. The Bulletin tool was coded from scratch, and pretty much every feature or enhancement I requested was built within weeks.
Facebook funded Hawaii Bulletin, which quite meaningfully made it possible for me to transition to independent consulting and freelance work after losing my day job. In this way alone, it was a transformative opportunity.
Facebook also promoted Hawaii Bulletin across Hawaii, to the point where strangers and friends alike were getting sick of seeing my face in their newsfeeds.
Sorry about that.
Meanwhile, I wrote, and wrote, and interviewed dozens of amazing people, and made many new friends. I got editing notes, feedback, and story ideas from readers and learned something new every day—excited to then share those things with everyone else.
Unfortunately, 100 articles and almost a quarter of a million Hawaii Bulletin words later, Meta (nee Facebook) announced that it was ending its email experiment early. The news came after the company’s first ever mass layoffs, and in the midst of its rocky transition to being a “metaverse” company. I disagreed that Bulletin didn’t fit with Meta’s new “creator centric” vision, and I would have happily continued to use it indefinitely… but alas, the grand experiment is over.
Hawaii Bulletin, however, will continue… if you’ll continue to read it. I still haven’t done everything I wanted to do with it, and the Hawaii innovation ecosystem is more interesting and exciting than ever. The Meta transition provided an opportunity to reset, and as we head into a new year, I’m optimistic.
I’ve called myself a “wannabe journalist” since working on my high school newspaper, and only 30 years later am I finally comfortable simply saying I am a journalist, with no quote marks. And while I contribute to multiple local media outlets and publish a handful of blogs, Hawaii Bulletin has provided the most direct connection I’ve ever had with readers.
I’m proud of the stories I’ve helped tell, and I look forward to showcasing even more of the creativity, talent, and brilliance of Hawaii.
What’s coming in Hawaii Bulletin
If I were to make New Year’s resolutions for Hawaii Bulletin, they would be these:
- More frequent and shorter articles. Having gone months between blog posts, this is something I wanted to do from the beginning. But I’ve still approached each issue as a long-read feature story, which takes me forever to put together. Instead of five 3,000-word articles a month, then, I want to get to ten 1,500-word updates. Sound good?
- More Q&As. One out of three interviews I’ve done for Hawaii Bulletin never made it to print (or, to “print”), and that’s not good, especially for the people who’ve taken the time to share their story with me. Related to #1 above, I need to loosen up, and that means I’ll share more interview transcripts directly as Hawaii Bulletin articles. Some of you have preferred these to traditional articles, anyway!
- More curation. There’s a lot more news in Hawaii sci-tech and startups than I could ever cover. I compile dozens of links to stories each month that I’m unable to follow up on, so I’m going to start sharing roundups of interesting reads by other writers and outlets.
- Events calendar and job listings. I’m going to resume monthly previews of upcoming events of interest (sourced from HawaiiCalendar.com), and will add regular local sci-tech and startup job postings (sourced from Hawaii Tech Jobs). As always, your submissions wanted.
- More event coverage. Hawaii Bulletin has provided great opportunities to both preview and attend local tech events. Even if no major announcements come out of them, I’m going to share notes and photos from conferences and meetups more often.
There are also a couple of things that Substack makes possible.
Substack Chat is a per-publication discussion tool built into the Substack App. If you read Hawaii Bulletin via the app instead of email or on the web, this will provide a cozy backchannel for feedback as well as reader-to-reader interaction. If anyone decides to use it.
Substack Podcasts integrates time-shifted audio with the newsletter. Many publications have podcasts that are basically AI-voiced readings of each article, for people who prefer listening to reading. I’m not sure how well this will work given Hawaii’s unique vocabulary, but I’m thinking of trying it.
Finally, Substack does support monetization in the form of subscriptions and subscriber-only content… but I want to prove I can provide what I’ve promised before considering extras. The above adjustments are how I hope to keep Hawaii Bulletin sustainable as a volunteer enterprise.
Thank you for everything
Hawaii Bulletin has been extremely rewarding, and your readership has been both humbling and inspiring. As someone who always identified as a writer, this project has given me priceless validation. I sincerely hope I can continue to provide value to you and the Hawaii innovation ecosystem in the months ahead.
As always, I appreciate your help in spreading the word, sharing Hawaii Bulletin with your friends. Just remember, it’ll now be found at www.hawaiibulletin.com or on the Substack website or app.
This transition notice was inspired those from fellow Bulletin writers Emily Nagoski, Laura Shin, and Andrea Gibson, all of whom also relocated to Substack. Images courtesy Getty Images, one of the Bulletin perks I’ll miss.