A tribute to retiring University of Hawaii
journalism professor Beverly Deepe Keever What Would Bev Keever Do?
July 11, 2008
What Would Bev Keever Do?
By Lucy Jokiel
Back in the mid-1980s, I gave up my career as a registered nurse and considered becoming a journalist. I remember walking into my first journalism class at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The class was Public Affairs Reporting at Crawford Hall. Professor Beverly Keever looked like my former kindergarten teacher, who was extremely kind and friendly. This should be an easy class, I figured.
Professor Keever described all the "field trips" we would take -- to the police station, the state Bureau of Conveyances, a police-ride-along, Circuit Court, state libraries. My kindergarten field trips were always fun, so I expected it would be the same.
Then she began talking about the importance of finding and using public information as a means to better reporting.
I remember going "on assignment" to dig up key information for our stories. "Follow the money," Bev said. At first it was exciting to be Brenda Starr, but after four hours of rumbling around dark basement agencies and pleading with prune-faced clerks to give me the records, I was ready to call it quits. But the next day, after Bev's passionate lecture about the importance of public records, I was ready to do it again.
Bev told us stories about her adventures on the way to becoming a journalist:
That's all I needed to hear. I knew I wanted to be a journalist. Bev’s class was the most important journalism course I have ever taken.
Over my years as a working journalist, I called Bev whenever I needed her expert advice about a difficult story. I once received a call from someone who knew I was about to publish a story detailing his criminal activities. He threatened to kill himself if I did so. Since Bev was on the Mainland, I had to ask myself: "What would Bev Keever do?" Of course, I knew what her answer would be: "Publish it – but be sure all your facts are correct!" (He didn't kill himself).
I was thrilled to once spend a day with Bev while she interviewed a physician at his home in Kailua. He had treated patients who had suffered radiation injuries as a result of an atomic bomb set off by the U.S. Navy on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in 1946. Bev used this information in her book News Zero: The New York Times and the Bomb, proving that the U.S. tried to hide much information about its nuclear program in the Pacific.
Over the years, all of us Keever junkies have gotten together for a social event or to mingle with a well-known journalist who had come to town. Bev's husband, Chuck, always joined us jabbering journalists. I think Chuck deserves a special award for his efforts in supporting and keeping track of his wife. I often called the Keever home at odd hours seeking her help. "Well, she left home about 7 a.m., and I haven’t seen her since," said Chuck. "But I'll find her for you."
Even though she is retiring, I doubt that we’ve seen the last of Bev Keever. I predict she will have a "refirement" rather than a retirement. Today, thanks to Bev Keever, I remain passionate about journalism and have had the good fortune to pass on all the knowledge she gave me at UH to the students in my summer magazine writing class on that campus. Yesterday, one of my students told me that I remind him of Professor Keever. Despite his obvious apple-polishing, it was one of the greatest compliments I've ever received!
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Bev Keever's retirement from the University of Hawaii will leave
a huge void in the "J" Depart … excuse me, what is now called the School of
Bev Keever taught me and countless other reporters, editors, directors, bloggers and other assorted people who call themselves journalists, as well as a few politicians in this town.
Among my own UH contemporaries, I would rattle off the top of my head Suzanne Roig, Lucy Jokiel, Dave Reardon, Jay McWilliams, Ron Mizutani, Mark Takai, Brooks Baehr, Brenda Salgado, Ben Seto, the late Patty Bibby, Julia Steele, Robert Lopez and Lance Tominaga.
She taught us the joy of digging up land records at the Bureau of Conveyances in the Kalanimoku Building, the pleasure of plowing through the "X" file bin in state Circuit Court, the exhilaration of finding a shady name or pattern within a campaign spending report while keeping Bob Watada's poor wife waiting past 5 p.m., and my personal favorite, the near orgasmic experience of finding juicy little morsels contained within those towering bound paper weights known as environmental impact statements.
In short, Bev taught us not just to appreciate, but to relish and, honestly, get excited about the wonderfully flawed yet intricately simple thing we call the American government process, about public affairs.
The key word in the class description for what was then Journalism 315, public affairs reporting, is indeed the first word -- public, for more than anything else, Bev taught us the value of sharing those nuggets of information with the public.
That said, Bev's retirement couldn't come at a more critical time in our industry. Understandably, newsrooms across the state and nation are finding ways to stay relevant in the age of Facebook, You Tube, Google Search and Wikipedia.
But as the editors, news directors and other decision-makers here tonight sit at your desks with your spreadsheets and try to figure out how you're going to stave off layoffs, I ask you, I urge you, I beg you to please remember those lessons Bev taught us.
That yes, there is value and interest in court reporting and
That yes, there is value and interest in government reporting and government reporters.
That yes, there is value and interest in picking up an EIS or even covering a meeting once in a while.
Stepping down from the big picture, those of us who know Bev know that "retirement" for her simply means she'll be spending less time in Crawford Hall and the Manoa campus.
And more time in the faces of lawmakers, agency chiefs, editors and news directors -- all in the name of public affairs reporting. As many of us know, underneath that mild-mannered lady some of us affectionately called "the Keev" lies a feisty spirit hardened by her years as a Vietnam war correspondent.
So Bev, thank you, make sure Chuck takes care of you, and we
know you’ll be staying in touch.