When The Maui News announced the July 6 debut of the Weekender, I braced myself for a barrage of questions and complaints. As a freelance writer, I am not an employee of the newspaper, but readers often assume I am privy to its inner workings and some folks even seem to think I have a say in its management (“Your paper . . .” they call it, usually when they have a gripe).
Of course, I do have a vested interest in the survival of our daily paper. While I’ll never get rich off this column, it’s been a steady source of income for over eight years now. The weekly discipline has certainly enriched my life, building my communication skills and enhancing my connection to our community. And how lucky am I, getting paid to daydream and reminisce?
The Maui News has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. My father taught me to read before I turned three, and the newspaper was one of his teaching tools. Back then, only the Honolulu papers were dailies; the Advertiser was home-delivered in the morning, the Star-Bulletin in the afternoon. All my adult relatives subscribed to one or the other, but everyone looked forward to the thrice-weekly Maui News for the local coverage that the big city papers lacked.
I don’t recall exactly when the publishing schedule expanded to five weekdays, but I do remember how excited we were in 1984 when The Maui News added a Sunday edition, complete with TV guide, comic strips in full color, and Parade magazine. At that point, many of us cancelled our Honolulu newspaper subscriptions, even if it meant no newspaper on Saturdays. It wasn’t until 2001, a century (and a year) after its establishment, that our hometown paper became a true daily.
I must admit to feeling a little disappointed when I learned that The Maui News would be reverting to a six-day-a-week schedule. The home-delivered paper is as essential to my morning drill as my first cup of coffee. Even the sleepy stroll out to the driveway is a cherished part of my leisurely wake-up routine. Sundays just won’t be the same anymore, I thought.
To my surprise, only two people shared negative comments with me, and they were only mildly displeased. I’ve seen several letters to the editor and a few comments on social media, but nothing like the huge backlash I expected.
Then I realized that, in my social circle, I’m a bit of a rarity; one of a dwindling number who still maintain a print subscription to The Maui News. Most of my friends venture out to pick up the Sunday (and, I hope, Wednesday) papers, but for daily news, they watch the local TV newscasts or go online. It saddens me to say this, but I’m afraid that, like the newspaper business itself, I’m becoming an anachronism.
I do appreciate the value of the internet in providing immediate, far-reaching news and networking. After all, I started working in radio news, the original minute-to-minute coverage provider, at the age of 17. KMVI and The Maui News were under the same roof then, owned by Maui Publishing Company. Though there might have been a bit of friendly rivalry between the two entities, we all saw ourselves as equally vital parts of a complete information and entertainment service. Radio delivered the news as it was occurring, and the newspaper presented details and analysis for a broader, more thorough understanding of these events.
I’m going to save my thoughts on social media reporting for another column, except to say that, in my opinion, tweets and posts aren’t sufficient substitutes for in-depth local newspaper reporting and coverage of community concerns. And column writers.
After two Weekenders, I’ve adjusted to a new routine which is just as satisfying as my old habits. Now, on Saturdays, I read just the “A” section and set the rest of the newspaper aside for the next morning. Sunday mornings are the same as they’ve always been. Except my neighbors don’t have to see me stumble down the driveway in my ratty old robe. It’s a win-win all around.
* Kathy Collins is a radio personality (The Buzz 107.5 FM), storyteller, actress, emcee and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.