And that’s the way it is


Saipan — Twenty-five years ago, there were at least six newspapers on island: Marianas Variety, Marianas Review, Saipan Tribune (then owned by the late Larry Hillblom), Saipan-Guam Balita (News), Pacific Chronicle and Pacific Star. Guam’s PDN had a weekly pullout devoted entirely to NMI news.

There were two cable TV stations — Hillblom’s KMCV and Saipan Cable TV, which liked to congratulate itself for being the island’s only cable TV station whose newscasts were not “controlled” by Hillblom. There were also two radio stations that broadcast the news, Monday to Friday: KSAI-AM and KZMI-FM. And at least two local lifestyle magazines.

I was hired by a local businessman to open a new weekly newspaper, The Marianas Observer. (I named it after the left-leaning British newspaper published on Sunday.) The following year, a new weekly newspaper was born, Voices, owned by a garment manufacturer. Among the local newspapers, Variety alone published Monday to Friday.

In those days, no one else but the media reported the news. No one else but the editorial writers had public opinions about the burning issues of the day. If you wanted to “react” to the news, you had to call the media outfit or write a letter to the editor. One of the few publishable phrases that a reporter would usually hear from government officials, prominent businesspeople, other island celebrities and/or their lawyers was, “I’ll sue you.”

Today, on social media, everyone’s a news reporter, an opinion writer, a videographer and a photographer. Today, you usually read the news online, not to be informed, but mainly to post your outrage, preferably anonymously, and read similar expressions of indignation from other anonymous persons.

In 1998, following the As