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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 24, 2010

Community-building with you was an honor

By Jeanne Mariani-Belding

What a ride. In the last five years or so, I've had the opportunity to work with so many political, business and community leaders who seem to have one impressive quality in common: They're committed to working toward a better future for Hawai'i.

That often underscored for me that I made the right decision years ago to leave the Bay Area and move back home to Hawai'i to be part of that community-building effort as editorial page editor of the state's largest newspaper. And I am grateful to have had that opportunity.

Friday marked my last day at the paper. I've decided to work in the area of strategic communications with an emphasis on community-building, innovative partnerships and civic engagement. And I imagine I'll be working with many of our nonprofit organizations along the way, with the ultimate goal of creating programs that will benefit Hawai'i in key areas such as public health, education and renewable energy.

Looking back over several elections and a cascade of news events, what I'll miss most are the people. Indeed, it's been interesting. There's the fellow who calls me every day every day to tell me to take conservative columnist Victor Davis Hanson out of his weekly Thursday spot; and, of course, the reader who calls me every day every day to discuss each letter on the letters page, giving each one his personal rating.

But seriously, I'll miss the core of dedicated journalists who do their very best for you each day; all the leaders, readers and more who have stepped up to take an active role in shaping our community; and all our Teen Editorial Board members, a reminder that our future is in good hands.

Even as the newspaper industry faces some major challenges and an uncertain future, I believe that the press has a fundamental role to play in our civic engagement landscape and in society as a whole. Good journalism is vital to keeping our community informed and engaged and to holding our leaders accountable. Editorial pages in particular are crucial to public discourse and serve as an important venue for civic engagement.

I am honored to have been a part of that, right here in my hometown, in some small way. I thank you for all of your support over the years and thanks for the fabulous ride.