Maui Business

Hawaiʻi Journalism Initiative launches nonprofit newsroom on Maui

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A new nonprofit dedicated to in-depth reporting on Maui County issues is launching on the Valley Isle, with experienced local journalists at the helm.

The Hawai‘i Journalism Initiative aims to bolster the local news scene and provide a critical resource for the Maui County community. The donor-supported organization will operate in partnership with Pacific Media Group, which runs the online breaking news websites Maui Now, Big Island Now and Kaua‘i Now, as well as radio stations across the state. HJI stories will be free of ads and paywalls and will be hosted on

Former Maui News Managing Editor Colleen Uechi will serve as editor of HJI. Uechi has been reporting in Maui County since 2014, when she covered community news and sports for The Molokai Dispatch. She joined The Maui News as a staff writer in 2015 and went on to serve as managing editor from 2020 to 2023. She’s earned multiple Society of Professional Journalists awards for coverage of Maui’s last sugar plantation, the Haleakalā telescope protests and sweeps of homeless encampments.


“Local news has scaled back in recent years, and we need more investment in boots-on-the-ground reporters to keep our community informed, accountable and hopeful in the face of challenges like the rebuilding of Lahaina and the struggle of local families to make it in Hawai‘i,” Uechi said. “We care about this community because we’re a part of it, and that will always drive our coverage.”

Former Maui News sports reporter Rob Collias will join HJI as a general assignment reporter. Collias brings roughly four decades of experience in journalism, starting in 1987 when he left his home state of Oregon to report for the Pacific Daily News in Guam. He later spent a part-time stint at what was then the Honolulu Advertiser before joining The Maui News in 1990. For 34 years he covered high school and club sports as well as major on-island events like the Maui Invitational and the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Collias was named the National Sports Media Association Hawai‘i Sportswriter of the Year in 2021.

“After 37 years as a journalist in the Pacific Islands, my vision for Hawai‘i Journalism Initiative is to help fill the void of the desert of local journalism that is growing far too rapidly throughout the state,” Collias said. “As newsrooms and local news outlets continue to shrink, we bring decades of Maui County knowledge to the forefront in a unique, effective format.”


HJI’s board of directors includes Jack Dugan, chief operating officer of Pacific Media Group and director of Maui Now.

“Our people, culture and precious resources need to be protected,” Dugan said. “Locally based journalists bring facts and accountability to light for a brighter future. I believe the Hawai‘i Journalism Initiative offers a promising solution for our community. I am proud and honored to support the effort.”

HJI’s initial reporting series, “Crossroads,” takes a look at how last year’s wildfires and the high cost of living are affecting young people’s decisions to leave or stay in Maui County.


To learn more about the nonprofit and to support its mission, visit


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