Story by Diane Haynes Woodburn
The sharks are starting to circle. . . . It’s been a tough year for publishing and many in the industry are struggling to stay afloat. The other day, a colleague with a macabre sense of humor showed me a blog called Magazine Death Pool, dedicated to posting the latest pulp fish food and placing bets on who will sink next.
Well, lucky we live Hawai‘i—we know how to swim here, despite the sharks.
For real. Our friend Michael Spalding could be an honorary publisher. A few weeks ago, he attempted to swim the Alanuihaha Channel, that infamous stretch of treacherous water between the Big Island and Maui. The swim had been in the planning for months (years, really), and finally the day came when the tides and the weather smiled. The channel was calm, the current moving in a favorable direction. My husband and a few friends boarded the escort boat, from which they would each take turns in a one-man kayak, shadowing Mike as he made the estimated twenty-four-hour swim. The nearly moonless night gave way to a pitch-black sky and dark, rolling water, but the weather held. Mike was making good time. And then the phone call.
“We’re coming in,” Jamie said, in that deliberately calm voice that tells a wife something isn’t right. “Why?” I asked slowly, carefully. “Ah, well, ummm. Mike got bit by a shark . . . but he’s fine. We’re taking good care of him.”
Mike was attacked by a creature named Isistius brasiliensis, aka cookie-cutter shark. It’s only about twenty inches long, but it’s all mouth. It latches on with its lower teeth and then flips its body to rip a chunk of flesh from its prey, leaving the sort of hole a cookie cutter makes. Mike lost a chunk of his upper calf about three inches in diameter and an inch and a half deep. Even little sharks can have quite a bite. But not enough to keep Mike out of the water. He’s already planning next year’s swim, and I know that Jamie and the rest of the crew are already planning to be there to support him.
Mike’s adventure seems an apt metaphor for the heroic way so many folks are facing these difficult times. It’s a tough swim out there, but not so tough that we can’t get through it with a little help from our friends.
Our friends at the Western Publishers Association understand that spirit. This year, in the face of enormous losses in the industry, WPA had to cancel its annual conference. But they didn’t cancel the Maggies. And Maui No Ka ‘Oi is going!
The Maggie Awards are the industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, presented to the best publications west of the Mississippi. Of 1,300 entries in this year’s competition, Maui No Ka ‘Oi was nominated as a finalist in two categories—one of them for Best Regional or State Consumer Publication.
This Best of Maui issue will have gone to press weeks before the WPA’s April 23rd awards ceremony, so as I write this, we don’t know how our publication has fared. But when you’ve been placed in the same category with such giants as Sunset Magazine, Arizona Highways and Desert Living, just being nominated is huge.
If ever there was a moment to express my appreciation, this is the time. As publisher, I am deeply grateful to our talented and dedicated staff; our contributing writers, photographers and illustrators; and the loyal advertisers who are sticking with us through the dark waters. Most of all, my thanks to every reader of Maui No Ka ‘Oi. Whether we win at the Maggies or not, you make this year one to celebrate. Like Mike Spalding, we’re still in the swim, with a little help from our friends.
A hui hou,
Diane Haynes Woodburn