By Zachary FR Anderson, AsAmNews Staff Writer
A partnership with the Google News Initiative has enabled a local news outlet, KUAM News, in Guam to expand its coverage and its reach in the neighboring Northern Mariana Islands.
“We’re no longer a Guam-centeric organization with supplementary CNMI content,” KUAM Communications CEO Marie Calvo-Monge told AsAmNews. “It’s now a core part of who we are and what we produce and who we serve.”
Before partnering with the Google News Initiative, news between the two was limited to aggravated stories from other outlets. Through the partnership, however, KUAM News has access to tools that enables them to produce original nightly content and livestreams.
“It’s really expanded our reach,” said Calvo-Monge.
Located more than 3,800 miles from Hawaii, the Mariana Archipelago consists of two US territories: Guam, the largest and southern-most island, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), which consists of the other 14 including Saipan, Rota and Tinian. Combined they have a population of over 223 thousand people which include indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians.
“I think people that don’t know about [the Marianas] think that we’re just a resort island where people sit on the beach and pick coconuts,” said Calvo-Monge. “But there are a lot of very important things happening here.”
Stories that the partnership has enabled KUAM News to cover in real-time include the Pacific Mini Games in June when the CNMI hosted athletes from 20 countries and territories throughout Pasifika to showcase their athletic prowess; as well as the opening of a new military airfield in Tinian and the May impeachment of CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres.
This coverage would not be possible without reporters on the ground. According to Calvo-Monge, the tools made accessible by the partnership compliment the work of KUAM News’ first CNMI regional correspondent.
“We got the news out as it was happening and that’s the beauty of having the tools at your disposal,” the correspondent, Thomas Mangloña told AsAmNews.
Before joining the outlet, Mangloña interned for them during summers while attending UC Berkeley. After receiving his master’s degree from Stanford, he returned as a full-time regional correspondent in the CNMI. He is also the outlet’s Assistant News Director and Digital News Director.
The stories covered by KUAM News are not just for the people of the islands, with over 148,000 Chamorros living in the continental United States, the outlet has also become a vital connection to the homeland–– especially since it started live-streaming HD-quality video of events across its social media platforms which was made possible by the partnership’s funding. In July, KUAM News was able to livestream Guam’s Liberation Day Parade which commemorates the anniversary of the island’s liberation from Japanese occupation during WWII.
“To people who are not home, it just creates a sense of pride and makes them nostalgic for memories of their past,” said Calvo-Monge.
Pacific Islanders in America say the news services help them connect with their roots.
“It’s good to know what goes on [back home],” Carlos Manolo, who is originally from Saipan, told AsAmNews from his home in Portland, Oregon, “it helps me with my confidence and understanding of my own cultural identity when I familiarize myself with what goes on back on the islands.”
(Editor Note: An earlier version of this story listed the incorrect call letters for KUAM News. We regret the error.)
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