The Maui News started unpretentiously on February 17, 1900, as a once-a-week four page publication. The original publisher, Judge George B. Robertson, had high ideals and hopes for his hometown paper. He had ordered a flatbed press and accompanying type and set it up in a building he purchased in the Bailey block at the top of Main St., Wailuku. He first used the press in January 1900 for job printing of a backlog of orders, but by February he was able to bring out the first edition of the Maui News. Mr. Robertson had enthusiasm, vision and a whole lot to say. Here is his introductory editorial:
"With this issue the MAUI NEWS modestly takes its place among the sisterhood of Hawaiian newspapers. The psychological moment for its appearance has arrived and it is here merely to enjoy the luxury of flourishing on Maui, the loveliest, healthiest and altogether most delightful island in Hawaii nei.
"The reception which its proposed advent has met among the people of the Islands generally, and the people of Maui particularly, indicates that it is destined, if worthy, to live a long and useful life. No effort will be spared to keep it bright, newsy and interesting; still it will not indulge in yellow journalism any further can be avoided. No parent need fear to put it into the hands of his sons and daughters, for it will be pure, clean and sweet to the taste.
Market Street, Wailuku, 1900
"Independent in politics, religion and literature, it will advocate first the interests of Maui, next those of the islands at large, and what time and space may be left will be devoted to regulating the affairs of this world generally. "
The fledgling newspaper came out at the same time that bubonic plague was discovered on Maui, mainly in "chinatown" in Kahului. Mr. Robertson felt that was a important reason to print the news in spite of difficulties imposed by the quarantine : no ships were being allowed in or out of the harbor. He begged "all subscribers at their earliest convenience to remit their subscription dues" as " the advertising support has been practically cut off ... the paper will have to depend almost entirely on its subscription department for funds for a time." It was important for the public to know the breaking news about the plague's containment and the burning of Chinatown.
Mr. Robertson's entrepreneurial energy manifested itself in various other ways; he tried being a Wailuku District magistrate, running a Wailuku Collection Agency, being President of the Maui Racing Association, and owning the Wailuku Hotel. Still the Maui News was struggling; Mr. Robertson's wife quit being business manager in 1904 and Mr. C. L. Clement, hired to take her place, couldn't make much profit either. By 1905, George Robertson's debts were $1,300, so he sold the newspaper and printing business to a Hui of Maui businessmen for $2,000 cash.
The Hui board voted that the " Maui News under new management be for 'Maui no ka oi' and uncompromisingly Republican". Those were the days when the Republicans were a strong political party here, shouldering out the Home Rule party of Robert Wilcox; the Democrats were negligible.
The Hui also had hopes of making a monthly income of $62 in subscriptions, $90 in advertising and $170 in job work. The first years were rocky, but our hometown paper kept on going, by 1924, was able to come out twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Job printing continued as "Printmaster's". Our press was upgraded to a Goss Community Press. That schedule lasted until 1970 when the paper began printing three issues a week, then went to five issues (weekdays only) until 1984. A necessary Sunday edition was added in 1984.
The Maui Publishing Co. was privately owned by the Cameron family, Mr. J. Walter Cameron having gradually acquired the outside stock, but in the year 2000, it was sold to Ogden Newspapers, Inc. Quickly The Maui news went to an AM paper, and the following year added a Saturday edition. Now with a new bright red, "top of the line" DSM Advantage II Press with large capacity, the company can still do job printing of other newsprint publications.