Local re-launch

Islanders, advertisers and tourists cheer the return of MauiTimes

Tommy Russo, founder of MauiTimes, and J. Sam Weiss, the new publisher/executive editor, celebrate their new partnership and the re-launch of the publication.
Tommy Russo, founder of MauiTimes, and J. Sam Weiss, the new publisher/executive editor, celebrate their new partnership and the re-launch of the publication.
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The pandemic catalyzed a cascade of events that decimated Hawaii’s tourist-dependent economy. Businesses had to close or limit their hours, and without tourist dollars, most of those businesses had to stop advertising, including with the MauiTimes.

During May of 2020, the fiercely independent newsweekly couldn’t generate any income, as the flow of advertising dollars stopped. Then, during June, the paper initially launched in 1997, paused publication and laid off its entire staff.

Now, 15 months later, the new MauiTimes is back in homes, businesses and the hands of past advertisers in the form of a free preview edition.

The first edition was available Sept. 16 in print and online. Circulation was more than 78,000, with 56,000 copies sent to every residence and business on Maui and the nearby islands of Molokai and Lanai.

An additional 22,000 copies were available for free at 240 high-traffic locations, especially at those businesses catering to visitors. A companion daily digital platform provides the most current civic and cultural happenings for both locals and visitors.

“Tommy and I and the entire staff are excited about the re-launch of the paper but are also focused on sharing important stories and information as we re-engage with our community, businesses and advertisers,” said J. Sam Weiss, the new publisher/executive editor.

Weiss is chairman and owner of 6035 Media, a Colorado company that publishes eight newspapers and companion digital platforms. He relocated to Maui late last year to help coordinate the re-launch with Tommy Russo, the founder of the MauiTimes.

“Sam and I are old friends and share a passion for local news,” said Russo. “With our combined experience, we are building what we believe will be our community’s largest media company. Our first executive decision was to change the name from the MauiTime to the MauiTimes.”

“We added the ‘s’ to signify we will include all the coverage we have always offered, plus much more,” said Russo. “We’ll continue the paper’s focus on investigative reporting and the most comprehensive arts, culture and events calendar on the island. We are also expanding our reporting of local business and educational issues as well as high school sports news. A help-wanted section is also part of the re-launch since so many local organizations have openings.

More than three-quarters of the MauiTimes staff has decades-long ties to the islands. “Hiring talented and dedicated locals who understand the nuances of Maui County was part of our strategic mission,” said Weiss.

During his 48 years in marketing and advertising, Bob Sillick has held many senior positions and served many clients. Since 2010, he has been a freelance/contract content researcher and writer. He can be reached at bobsillick@gmail.com.

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