I’ll admit it: I started reading MauiTime because it was free. I didn’t first pick up the paper for the great writing, engaging storytelling, characteristic voice, insightful jabs, or even important news. I picked the paper up because it was free, and because it was there.
I didn’t open my first MauiTime for the journalism, but it is the reason I kept opening them. And now, 21 years since Tommy Russo and Mark D’Antonio started this scrappy alt-weekly, MauiTime’s still there, at many of the same spots I’d grab issues over a decade ago. We’re still here because there are still stories to tell and truth to speak – and readers like you keep checking in to see what we think. Our small MauiTime ‘ohana understands the importance of what we do, and week after week we do our best to give our faithful readers, and laundromat-coffeeshop-bus stop casual readers alike, a print edition to satisfy the community need for journalism.
It’s a pressing need these days. The internet, hyper-connectivity, social media, and Trump-brand facts have collided in an environment where misinformation spreads fast, everyone has a platform, and blatant lies can be masked with a more outrageous untruth. Democracy, which rests its power in the people, becomes grotesque when it reflects and serves lies and ignorance.
This is why the media and the press has proudly considered itself the fourth branch of government: Knowledge and informed action give the power to the people. Last week, publications nationwide unified to publish editorials reaffirming the importance of press freedom to denounce President Trump’s treatment of the media and claims that we are “the enemy of the people” because, as The Washington Post has sloganized, “democracy dies in the dark.”
Put simply, at MauiTime we believe that critical thinking is good, and that an informed community will have strong ties and reach decisions that best serve the common good. I didn’t open my first MauiTime to think critically or inform myself, but in reading it I was inspired.
We are a weekly publication, and an alternative weekly at that, so we don’t claim to have all the news you need. We acknowledge our voice can be strong. But we aren’t fake. We’re transparent and enter the conversation in good faith. Readers may agree or disagree with what we publish; we are glad for the opportunity to express and examine our thinking and evidence. If we inspire you to read another story, form an argument, or take action, I’ll count that as success. Freedom of the press makes this possible, and without it the world would indeed be a darker place.
Since starting as editor three months ago, the finest compliment I got came from someone on the street. She watched the Walk Stories with the candidates, she said, and it helped her make a decision before voting in the Primary Election. She showed the videos to her best friend and boyfriend, both of whom had never voted. After watching our candidate interviews, they were moved to vote for the first time.
See, freedom of the press is important. And free press that does it for free is even better.