There are six questions every cub reporter gets taught before he or she ventures out on a story: Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why? and How? Of those, perhaps the most important–and the one that typically gets the least play in news stories–is Why.
The Maui News and Maui Now rarely run stories that explain why events take place. Perhaps they’re so constrained by budget pressures that they can’t take the time to fully report a story before hitting the “Publish” button. Or perhaps they’re just lazy. Or maybe these organizations just think that events happen for the same reason that coconuts fall out of a tree–they just do.
I wondered about all this over the weekend as I read both news organizations’ reports on how officials at the Andaz Maui Resort admitted that they were the mysterious “Wailea hotel” that discovered a little fire ant infestation back in May. It’s a major public health story with implications for the entire island.
But The Maui News and Maui Now stories–which you can read here and here, respectively–simply informed readers that the Andaz released a statement saying they had discovered little fire ants back in May, and had informed state and county officials, which were in the process of containing and eradicating the ants. Neither news organization bothered to explain to their readers why the hotel–which recently opened and could really use better publicity than this–was going public with such a revelation.
That reason is no mystery to MauiTime readers. On the morning of Friday, June 20, after finding out the name of the resort from a source over at the County of Maui who knew about the infestation, we contacted the hotel and asked to talk them about it. After thanking us for reaching out to them, they spent the next few hours crafting a public statement. I received that statement around 3:30 that afternoon, and posted it online a few minutes later (you read that story here). Andaz distributed that statement to other organizations as well.
This isn’t merely a matter of The Maui News and Maui Now not crediting MauiTime with getting a story first. Rather, it’s precisely because we dug into the story–asking questions those better funded news organizations failed to do–that the Andaz went public with their role in the little fire ant infestation.
Other news organizations may not bother to explain why events happen, but we believe our readers would like to know.
Photo of the Andaz Maui Resort: Tommy Russo