While the mainstream, corporate media is still struggling to find its footing in the digital age, grassroots online news initiatives everywhere are putting down roots. Citizen journalism and independent media are near and dear to my heart, so I’m always interested when a new venture is launched here in the islands.
The Hawaii Independent is not exactly new — it has been in development for nearly a year now. But recently, publisher Ikaika Hussey has shifted the publication into high gear.
“The Hawaii Independent focuses on Hawaii local news and investigative journalism,” Hussey wrote in a recent Maoliworld announcement. “We report on many issues which are important to the Hawaiian community… We’re also featuring the indigenous perspective on global climate change, which is a voice that is the mainstream newspapers are ignoring.”
The Hawaii Independent is community supported, offering $5 monthly (or $50 annual) subscriptions to fund its work. While access to the site and its content is free for anyone, subscribers receive a card that entitles them to special discounts from Hawaii businesses, including Big City Diner, Lex Brodie’s, Menchie’s, and Down to Earth.
The site is already well stocked with a good mix of articles. There are event write-ups (such as the Eddie Aikau surf contest), opinion pieces, food pieces (“The Remixed Plate“), the beginnings of a sports section and even a comics page. It looks great.
Hussey, whose work I followed when I worked at Ka Leo at UH, is well known in local Hawaiian and political circles. He was named one of “10 Who Made a Difference” by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2005, and since then has been very active in the community, organizing for Hawaiian independence and against the Akaka Bill, opposing the SuperFerry and any expansion of military activity in the islands.
He also runs Maoliworld, an online social network on the Ning platform devoted to Native Hawaiian issues. In September, the network welcomed its 4,000th member. The Hawaii Independent is described as its “sister publication.”
My wife and I ran into the The Hawaii Independent crew staffing a table near HPU for “First Friday” last week. I mentioned that no less than Pierre Omidyar was pushing into the local news space.
“Yeah, we know about it,” they said. Translation? “Bring it on.”