Molokai Ranch extorts local paper for La’au anti-development coverage

News Report
Ikaika M Hussey

The Molokai Ranch, a multinational corporation that aims to develop luxury housing on Molokai's rural Laau Point, has pulled its advertising from The Molokai Times in protest of the paper's pro-conservation coverage.

According to sources close to the story, Ranch officials have complained about the papers' publishing of letters from proponents of conserving Laau Point for cultural and recreational uses.

In response to an inquiry from The Hawaii Standard, Becker Communications, the public relations firm hired by Molokai Ranch, says that "the decision to cease advertising was strictly budgetary."

"It was communicated to the paper that the Ranch did intend to advertise with them in the future on a spot basis," the response continues.

In spite of Becker Communications' response, however, the Ranch's actions do point to a history of political retribution against outspoken media. A year ago, the Ranch also pulled its advertising from The Molokai Dispatch, a local publication which has published several pro-conservation articles.