It's been a little over 10 years since this column began as "Haku Mo'olelo," providing the city editor of The Maui News a venue to discuss newspaper decisions and comment on news stories. That first column on Aug. 1, 2001, also provided a brief history of newspapers in the United States in the 20th century.
In the 21st century, newspapers across the country are struggling to adapt to rapidly changing technology for dispersing information, adopting some Web features while attempting to pound the square peg of an old business model into the round hole of transformative information technology systems.
This column is making a transition as well. For 2012, it will be both a Maui News blog as well as a weekly column at www.mauinews.com. It will be different.
The blog site will allow more stories with more detail. The weekly column is limited by space considerations in the print format of a newspaper, including a general limit of 600 words. In contrast, an online blog is virtually unlimited. New material can be added daily and updated, with no limit on length beyond a recognition that online readers are less patient with narcissistic wordiness than print readers.
Additionally, The Maui News blog site allows conversations. Registered readers can comment on a blog page, subject to editorial deletions of offensive verbiage.
Elsewhere in The Maui News website, online comments are not accepted because of abuse. When mauinews.com allowed comments, there was an immediate problem of vituperative postings of belligerent individuals cloaked by anonymity of fictitious online identities.
Journalism ethics holds people responsible for published statements, which is the basis for The Maui News' policy on letters to the editor - a community resource for readers to comment on stories and events. The policy requires every letter to be signed by the writer, to allow readers to identify the source in judging the credibility of the comment.
With The Maui News blog site, the bloggers will monitor comments, since the bloggers also respond to critiques.
In several ways, the transition of print column to blog reflects the new relationship between readers and information providers on the Web. An online blog provides immediacy with interactivity. Dedicated readers can be notified when new material is posted; readers in turn can comment as quickly as they can read.
Conversations can occur, which is good and bad. The slower print format for letters requires readers to consider their words, tempering impolitic outbursts that can occur in the immediacy of interactive postings on emotional issues.
Blogs allow writers and readers to post material without the filter of an editor, which can be more personal, and more likely to include errors of fact and language. Some writers appreciate editors who repair flaws of incoherence and fallacy. Some writers don't, and they are more likely to post factual errors, intentionally or not.
But that is another fact of the Internet: There is a vast amount of information but there is a vast amount of misinformation as well. There are Web resources for divining fact from fantasy; selecting a resource can be subject to confirmation bias.
Essentially, readers will rely on their experience and common sense. In the process, they may discover writing that is entertaining as well as informative, which is the primary reason for reading - whatever the venue.
There are eight writers at The Maui News blog site: www.mauinews.com/page/blogs.list. Three involve weekly print columnists, including Rick Chatenever's "Making the Scene" and Carla Tracy's "As Maui Dines." One is new, by a non-Maui News staffer, Ray Tsuchiyama's "Pacific Memories and Visions."
Four columnists in the print editions are online at: www.mauinews.com/page/category.detail/nav/16/Columns.html.
* Edwin Tanji is a former city editor of The Maui News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. "Haku Mo'olelo," "writing stories," is about stories that are being written or have been written. It appears every Friday.