The Molokai Dispatch ‘ohana during the 30th anniversary celebration July 3. I’m in the middle wearing black, and Todd Yamashita, the newspaper’s owner, is kneeling by his Grandma and two children.
Last month, I flew to Molokai to attend the 30th anniversary celebration of The Molokai Dispatch, the island’s only newspaper of record, published weekly.
I hadn’t been to Molokai in seven years, but I still have close friends there, some of whom come to Kaua‘i every year. I lived on Molokai between 2007 and 2008, when I worked for the Dispatch. My love for Molokai and its people has only grown since I left.
The reason I’m bringing this up is because I realized I had to fly to Molokai to hear something very true about our own newspaper here, For Kaua‘i.
During the anniversary celebration, the newspaper’s owner and publisher, Todd Yamashita, said to a crowd of at least 200 people that The Molokai Dispatch was one of the few 100 percent locally owned and operated newspapers in the state of Hawai‘i.
Todd’s words hit me like a revelation. It’s not like we never said For Kaua‘i is “all local, all community, all Kaua‘i.”
But it was only then I realized For Kaua‘i is part of a dying breed. In an age when Mainland and foreign corporations own most Hawai‘i newspapers, we are more than just hanging on; we are thriving.
Kaua‘i’s only daily newspaper is owned by an O‘ahu-based company, which is a subsidiary of a Canadian media corporation, the same company that owns The Star Advertiser on O‘ahu, MidWeek across the state, both Big Island daily papers and several smaller publications statewide. Three Maui newspapers are owned by a West Virginia media corporation.
Meanwhile, For Kaua‘i is 100 percent locally owned and operated, and we are growing more than ever. Thanks to an increasing support from local businesses and local residents.
Since January 2014, we had a considerable and consistent increase in our online presence. Additionally, we have experienced a gradual increase in our number of printed copies, especially after this year’s decision to focus on culturally significant stories for our main article.
In other words, our newspaper is growing and becoming increasingly more popular. At the same time that I thank you for the support, I ask you for additional support. The more we grow, the more exposure our local advertisers have. This means more money staying here and circulating in our community, which means more wealth for us on Kaua‘i. It’s simple math.
We have more than 80 stands strategically spread throughout the island. We are in every public library on Kaua‘i, in several malls, businesses, supermarkets, restaurants and hotels. We are in Lihu‘e and Honolulu airports.
We do have a large interest among visitors, but mainly because we are local, and that’s what they want to read — a local newspaper. However, the bulk of our readers are local people.