Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Bill Hosokawa Interview
Narrator: Bill Hosokawa
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Daryl Maeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 13, 2001
Densho ID: denshovh-hbill-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: I want to go back now to your arrival at Heart Mountain. And from your writing, I understand that very soon after you arrived, you were offered the job of editor, founding editor of the camp newspaper.

BH: Yes. One of the first Caucasians I met at the camp was a fellow named Vaughn Mechau, M-e-c-h-a-u. He was a reports officer, former newspaperman, and he and I hit it off very quickly. And when he became aware of my background, he asked me if I would go to work for the, his reports department. And one of the functions of the reports department was to publish a newspaper. That seems to be a contradiction in terms, a newspaper in a concentration camp. But he asked me if I would take the job as, as editor.

I had been afraid in Puyallup, Camp Harmony, that since I was being blackballed, I would not be given any assignment of any consequence in the new camp. And I didn't want to be washing dishes or whatever. And so I was very pleased when Mechau said, "We want to use your experience as a newspaperman to start a newspaper." And we had many conversations. How do you publish a free newspaper in a concentration camp? And we knew that we had to tread a narrow line between asserting ourselves, like I had in the PC columns, and not riling up the people to the point where there would be revolts. So that was the job I had.

AI: This is fascinating to me that you and your supervisor had some very explicit discussion about what the role of the newspaper would be...

BH: Yes.

AI: ...your role as editor and the policy of how to cover and what kind of editorial statement might be made in such a newspaper.

BH: Yeah. He knew what I was doing when I was running the paper. But I never felt it, felt obliged to say, "Hey, Bonnie, take a look at this. Do you think it's okay?" I didn't feel any obligation to do that.

AI: So really he left it to your judgment...

BH: Yes.

AI: make a judgment call as to when to describe something in a way that, that related to people's rights or perhaps restrictions on rights...

BH: Yeah.

AI: ...How to do it. How to convey it.

BH: We took a very strong position against politicians, members of Congress, even the senator from Wyoming who did some very bad things to us. And we really took after him in the paper. And of course, that was good for camp morale. I'm sure his staff read, the senator's staff read this stuff. It didn't change him, but it was very good for the camp, people in the camp. Said, "Hey, we've got a newspaper, it's sticking up for us."

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2001 Densho. All Rights Reserved.