2003 Excellence in Journalism Awards


How to get additional trophies:

Please contact Wendell at Maui Marking Device in Wailuku to order your trophies.

His telephone number is (808) 244-3344. His fax: (808) 244-5558

Tell him which category you are interested in and the award winner's name and whether it is a winner (trophy) or a finalist (box). And obviously give him an address to which to send the item(s).

Costs are:



Jayson Harper of Pacific Basin Communications picks up an award


The Hawaii chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists handed out the 2004 Excellence in Journalism awards June 19 at the Ala Moana Hotel.

The Ohio, Greater Oregon and Inland NW chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists judged the various categories.

Daily Newspaper

D1 Business Reporting
First place:
Lyn Danninger, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, A ‘Costco’ for Health
Judges’ comments: Solid reporting uncovered severe shortcomings in a health care program offered to Hawai'i small business owners through a small business advocacy group.

Finalist: Matt Sedensky, The Associated Press, Hawaii-fed Up Flyers
Finalist: Jaymes Song, The Associated Press, Hawaiian Weddings

D2 Spot News Reporting

First Place: Rod Antone, Mary Vorsino, Peter Serafin, Gary Kubota, Tony Sommer, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Surf Wreaks Havoc
Judges' comments: It's not often that a weather story can compete in spot news, but the effort by the reporters at the Star Bulletin moved their coverage to the top. It shows good reporting, a thorough effort and first-class writing. This was a very competitive category.

Finalist: Honolulu Advertiser staff, The Honolulu Advertiser, Chain Reaction Crash Kills Police Officer, Girl
Finalist: Honolulu Advertiser staff, The Honolulu Advertiser, Police Officer Killed in Struggle with Fugitive

D3 General News/Enterprise Reporting

First Place: Matthew Thayer, The Maui News, Bad Boy Seal Comes to Maui
Judge's comments: Clever writing and solid reporting made this an easy, rewarding read from beginning to end. The writer gave personality to the "tricky," "rambunctious" 300-pound monk seal that was "socializing" with Makena swimmers. The fact that the "slippery mammal" with a "bad-boy" reputation had a history of nipping people and escaping from federal marine life specialists not only made for a fascinating tale, it was news. And this news was told in an entertaining, informative style that gave the facts without interrupting the story. Giving human characteristics to the seal certainly stimulated interest in follow-up stories that gave readers a conclusion: a safe capture of the seal while he was "snoozing" and a plan to transport it far away from humans. Job well done.

Finalist: Vicki Viotti, The Honolulu Advertiser, Koreans Mark 100 Years in Hawaii.

D4 Feature Writing/Short Form

First Place: Mike Leidemann, The Honolulu Advertiser, Christmas Comes to Kalaupapa in Summer
Judges’ comments: A strong visual of "Christmas" on the island as well as an understanding of the logistics of living on an island that receives all of its goods in one day. The writer also was skilled at positioning the current day life in terms of the historical uses of the island.

Finalist: Matt Sedensky, The Associated Press, Lingle's Faith.

D5 Feature Writing/Long Form

First Place: Michael Tsai, The Honolulu Advertiser, Yao appeal soars
Judge's comments: A fun read. Playful and crisp; this is some of the best writing I've seen in a long time.

Finalist: Jennifer Hiller, The Honolulu Advertiser, Project Graduation
Finalist: Joleen Oshiro, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Submissive Wives

D6 News Page Design
First Place: Michael Rovner, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Toppled
Judge's comments: Classy design with a great use of a sequence of pictures. Lots of impact. Nice use of white space.

Stephen Downes, Martha Hernandez, Greg Taylor, The Honolulu Advertiser, Battlefield: War in Iraq
Finalist: Michael Rovner, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, New Front

D7 Feature Page Design

First Place: Michael Rovner, Ruby Mata-Viti, Craig Kojima, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Shades of Delight
Judge's comments: A great page with humorous photos and designed with impact. Photoshop shadows work well. Fun page for readers.


M1 Business Reporting

First Place: Paula Dobbyn, Environment Hawai'i, Permit Hurdles, Litigation Drag Down Plan to Log Koa

Judge's comments: Dobbyn, a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, worked as a journalist in residence with the environmental newsletter for a month. She had never heard of the koa tree until she arrived in Hawai'i. Her research uncovered a trail of conservation violations and court cases that had gone unreported. The story revealed a mass of suspicious land deals and questionable accounting practices of large corporations that resulted in one man's logging business being pushed
to the edge of bankruptcy.

Finalist: Jacy L. Youn, Hawaii Business, Making a Case for Coverage
Finalist: Hawaii Business, Are We Safe?

M2 Industry or Trade Reporting

First Place: John Heckathorn, Honolulu Magazine, Classic Maui
Judge's comments: Crisp writing that made me want to visit all of these restaurants.

Finalist: Teresa Dawson, Environment Hawai'i, Moloka'i Protests Spotlight Cruise Industry Growth

M3 Profile

First Place: Ronna Bolante, Hawaii Business, Rising from the Ashes
Judge's comments: This story of a daughter with no business experience who is called upon to save the family store succeeds through excellent use of quotes and details. A good look at Jeanette Otsuka Chang and the strategy that revives the business.

Finalist: Constance Hale, Honolulu Magazine, Aaron Mahi
Finalist: Jacy L. Youn, Hawaii Business, Branching Out

M4 Feature Writing/Short Form

First Place: Ignacio Lobos, Island Scene Magazine, Just one breath

Judge’s comments: The writer took a routine assignment and turned it into a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He was not just content with observing the sport of free diving, he actually experienced it for himself – and for the reader. Good job of capturing the moment.

Finalist: Les Peetz, Honolulu Magazine, Antique Alley
Finalist: Roland Gilmore, Hana Hou! Magazine, Painting The Good Life

M5 Feature Writing/Long Form

First Place: William Starr Moake, Honolulu Magazine, Phantoms of the Sea
Judge's comments: The reader is quickly captured by this fascinating story of a missing fishing boat that is found nine years later and 2,300 miles away. In orderly fashion, we learn about the crew members, the storm in which their boat disappears and the subsequent search. But the eventual discovery of the boat provides a twist to the story that deepens -- not solves - the mystery. spellbinding.

Finalist: Naomi Sodetani, Hana Hou! Magazine, Way of the Warrior

Finalist: A. Kam Napier, Honolulu Magazine, Searching for Mililani

M6 Page Design
First Place: Steve Shrader, Hana Hou! Magazine, Life is Sweet

Judge's Comments: Nice use of pictures. Type use was elegant and the well-designed layout is inviting and has lots of impact.

Finalist: Darrell Ishii, Spirit of Aloha, Everything’s Laid Back in Rarotonga
Finalist: Wes Funai, Hawaii Business, Top 250: 20th Anniversary

M7 Magazine Cover
First Place:
Garry Ono, Island Scene Magazine. Conquering Crack: An Addict Tells His Story
Judge's comments: Great illustration. Lots of impact with a hard-to-illustrate subject.

Hana Hou! Magazine, Going Big
Finalist: Jayson Harper, Honolulu Magazine, 116th Holiday Annual


ND1 Business reporting

First Place: Kristen Sawada, Pacific Business News, HTA and HVCB stories

Comments: Sawada focused on the state’s bread-and-butter industry: Tourism. Her series was well reported with an emphasis on pushing the story forward into the post-Vericella era at the bureau. I’m sure Sawada was facing intense daily competition on this story.

ND2 General news/Enterprise reporting

No award given

ND3 Feature writing

First Place: Gina Mangieri, Pacific Business News/KHON-2, The incomparable Hemmeter returns

Comments: Chris Hemmeter was one of Hawaii’s most accomplished and influential developers. He had left Hawaii a decade earlier under publicly bitter terms and had refused to speak to the local press until the PBN/KHON package. This long-form print and television feature project represents a groundbreaking approach to news coverage between print and TV partners Pacific Business News and KHON-2.

ND4 Community reporting

No award given


I1 Online spot news reporting

First Place: Online staff, The Honolulu Advertiser, OTS, bus drivers reach tentative deal

Comments: The Honolulu Advertiser ran away with the online spot news reporting award for its round-the clock coverage of Honolulu’s bus strike. The newspaper outpaced its competition in this category because its entry was built around staff-produced stories posted in the middle of the night, showing the newspaper’s dedication to its readers no matter what hour.

I2 Online general news reporting (tie)

First Place: Online staff, The Honolulu Advertiser, Koreans in Hawaii – 100 Years of Dreams, Accomplishments

First Place: Brent Suyama, TheHawaiiChannel.com, UH President Drops Logos

Comments: Two entries earned first place in this category because both took advantage of the medium to tell a compelling story. The online staff at the Honolulu Advertiser told a poignant story of the 100th anniversary of Korean immigration of Hawaii. The newspaper told a comprehensive story online with a time line dating back to the SS Gaelle’s docking, a calendar of celebratory events and a series of archived stories lasting 12 months. The Hawaii Channel.com took a similar approach with news stories about the University of Hawaii’s proposed logo. The site solicited new logo ideas from readers and posted them online along with a slideshow.


P1 Column Writing/News

First Place: Rob Perez, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Raising Cane

Judges’ comments: A close call. Volume of reporting and information with a healthy dose of attitude made the difference. Good sense of outrage that is not over the top.

Finalist: Lee Cataluna, The Honolulu Advertiser, Lee Cataluna

P2 Column Writing/Features

First Place: Tanya Bricking. The Honolulu Advertiser. About Women

Judges’ comments: Well-written, engaging, fresh. Instant connection with this reader. Not sappy or trite. Good voice.

Finalist: Mike Leidemann, The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu Advertiser About Men

Finalist: Ferd Lewis, The Honolulu Advertiser, Sports Columns

P3 Government reporting

First Place: Gordon Y.K. Pang, The Honolulu Advertiser, Is Dobelle failing to deliver?

Judges’ comments: A pointed but fair watchdog profile a month in advance of the University of Hawaii president’s job evaluation. Great Capitol sourcing, and a fun read despite its length. Also liked the "promises kept, unkept" sidebar and the well-designed timeline.

P4 Political reporting

No award given

P5 Breaking news reporting

First Place: Staff, The Honolulu Advertiser, Police officer killed

Comments: This package of Page One stories on a police shooting covered all the angles, from the straight-ahead mainbar to the profile of the slain officer; from the impact of the shooting on the neighborhood to the suspect’s criminal record. The mainbar was straight ahead, as it should have been. The sidebars were sensitive and deep. The package seamlessly wove in the news with historical data and context, a textbook example of teamwork in breaking a large story under deadline pressure.

P6 Sports reporting (Two winners)

First Place: Ann Miller, The Honolulu Advertiser. Michelle Wie – Meeting celebrities, playing on the LPGA Tour: Life is Good

First Place: Staff, The Honolulu Advertiser. UH volleyball stripped of title

Comments: We decided to award two first places in this category because it was impossible to select one as better than the other. Both are excellent examples of sports writing at its best – the breaking hard news story that affects many of the readers, and the well-crafted feature story that brings a person to life. The Advertiser staff made all the right moves in covering an obviously big story to its readers – the decision by the NCAA to yank the championship volleyball trophy from the University of Hawaii. All the correct angles were covered; the stories were well written; the photographs were appropriate, and the graphic showing which schools had lost titles was just the right touch. An excellent piece of work. Just as was Ann Miller’s piece on Michelle Wie. It could have just been a story, but the other elements of the package helped make it exceptional ... the Q&A; her schedule; the autograph and the chronology ... all combined to make this a winner. And the story itself was very well written.


P7 Arts/Entertainment writing

No award given

P8 Editorial opinion

First Place: A. Kam Napier, Honolulu Magazine, Bold Resolve

Comments: The piece summed up the Legislature’s stand in a national debate over the perceived erosion of civil rights under the Bush administration’s Patriot Act, giving credit to the politicians who stood by their guns under tremendous political pressure. The writing was clear and articulate. It was not over the top or inflammatory. And most importantly, the piece called for a reasoned middle ground in an awkward era when even questioning political leaders was met with narrow-minded criticism.

Finalist: Stephanie Hickey, HPU Kalamalama, Peace movement: From ‘concerned’ to ‘involved’

Comments: The writer took a refreshing angle on an important topic, challenging herself as she challenged others. The writing was clear and clean. This young writer shows promise of great things to come.

P9 Editorial cartoon

First Place: Corky Trinidad, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Migawed

Comments: Intriguing, clean style and nice use of color put this in the first position.

Finalist: Dick Adair, The Honolulu Advertiser, Dick Adair

Comments: Excellent, amusing idea which was well-executed.

P10 Illustration

First Place: Stephen Downes, The Honolulu Advertiser, Happy is healthier

Comments: This is a unique concept for a story that is difficult to illustrate. It is executed very well. Great concept and great execution combined deserves first place award.

Finalist: Kip Aoki, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, H-Men Comic Book

P11 Informational graphic

First Place: David Swann, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Your Body on Ice

Comments: Simple, clean direct, organized well, dynamic presentation.

P12 News photography

First Place: George Lee, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Lights to Remember the Fallen

Comments: Photographer showed a creative approach, fresh perspective on what could have been a mundane assignment. The image is carefully and conscientiously composed in a situation which would seem to lend itself much time.

Finalist: Amanda Cowan, The Maui News, Fallen Hero

P13 Feature photography

First Place: Jeff Widener, The Honolulu Advertiser, Santa’s chair feels pretty bare

Comments: The photo makes a compelling juxtaposition using color, composition and emotion.

Finalist: Hana Hou! Magazine, Don Ho portrait

P14 Sports photography

First Place: Dennis Oda, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Uemura Classic

Comments: This photographer took his seeing to the next level by looking beyond what might be the expected peak action to the culture around the sport. The image gives the viewer layers of information.

Finalist: Craig Kojima, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, A Hole in One Tree

P15 Photo essay

First Place: Lucy Pemoni, Honolulu Magazine, Backstage Beauty

Comments: The images convey a real sense of being behind the scenes and demonstrate a thoughtful journalistic process. The essay shows a range of experiences that contestants go through. Several images showed a level of trust and intimacy between the subjects and the photographer.

Finalist: Ayumi Nakanishi, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Japan-Hawaii Style

P16 Investigative Reporting

First Place: Mike Gordon. The Honolulu Advertiser, Suffering in Silence: Hawaii’s Elderly Victims`

Comments: Mike Gordon’s investigative series, "Suffering in Silence," stood out among the competition because it deals with true life-and death issues – and because it takes on the inexcusable lethargy of state officials to pass meaningful laws regarding elder abuse and neglect. Gordon thoroughly documented the cases, provided vivid detail and fairly portrayed the dilemmas faced by many officials who found they were helpless in dealing with these cases. Most of all, the series helped lead to reforms that may well save lives.

Finalist: Patricia Tummons, Environment Hawai‘i, A Refuge in a Storm in South Kona

Comments: Investigative reporting is often defined as the revelation of news that some is trying to keep secret, and that is certainly the case here: Millions spent on a wildlife refuge that, by all accounts, has proven to be a fiscal disaster and environmental disappointment. The stories stood out among the competition because of Patricia Tummons’ dogged pursuit of public records and the deft way she uses them to explain what went wrong with the Kona refuge deal.

Finalist: A. Kam Napier, Honolulu Magazine, "Grading the Public Schools"

Comments: The trouble with Hawaii’s public schools is widely known, but A. Kam Napier’s story moves beyond generalizations to show that many schools excel while others continue to lag. Napier’s story stood out for the degree of enterprise shown – connecting public documents that were disparate and not all that meaningful when studied in isolation. This story carefully explains the methodology and provides information that readers can use to evaluate their schools and seek ways to improve them.

P17 Public service reporting

First Place: City Desk Staff, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Ice Storm

Comments: No other topic dominated this category like that of crystal methamphetamine – or "ice." The ice epidemic clearly has become a dominant issue if Hawaii. And while several news organizations published exhaustive series on the topic, none matched the thoroughness and depth of "Ice Storm" by the staff of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The series stood out in its public service by providing deep research and broad context to an issue of import. The series gave readers a sense of the history, impact and cost of meth at a time when Hawaii’s leaders convened to seek solutions.

Finalist: Jim Dooley, Johnny Brannon, The Honolulu Advertiser, Secret Documents in Kamakana Case

Comments: Kudos to the Honolulu Advertiser for taking on an expensive and protracted legal battle to shine a light on hidden police records. The newspaper’s pursuit of disclosure is itself a worthy public service. The dogged work of the newspaper and the reporters showed a determination to hold officials accountable. The reporting, writing and presentation helped readers make sense of the documents that did become public

Finalist: Susan Essoyan, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Schools Under Stress

Comments: That Hawaii’s schools face serious problems is not itself news. But this series stood out among the competition because it went deep into carefully selected trouble spots within the school system -- from when children should begin in school, to the lack of clean and adequate restrooms. Money is often the core issue of many education stories. While it shows that funding is still a central concern, the series raises important issues about how priorities are set. The series provided a public service by zeroing in on issues where schools could make demonstrable change.


R1 General News

First Place: Kayla Rosenfeld, Hawaii Public Radio, Ho’olaupahi

Comments: Kayla’s piece on Ho’olaupahi was a creative, informative look at the efforts to created a comprehensive history of native Hawaiian culture using the words of those who lived it. Effectively outlines the connection between today’s Hawaiian youth and the elders who were part of a cultural existence that cannot be found in traditional history and books.

R2 Feature Reporting

First Place: Noe Tanigawa, KHPR, Sake Culture in Honolulu

Comments: Good use of music for flow. Good information. "Call to action" place to go! Sake – I learned some things.

Finalist: Heidi Chang , KQED, The controversy over Kava, A Hawaiian Herbal Supplement

Comments: Topical and location issue oriented. Nice flow.


S1 News writing

No entries.

S2 Feature writing

First Place: Emma Yuen, Environment Hawaii, Will Water Return to Kaho’olawe?

Comments: Emma’s story clearly was the top entry in this category. Her insightful piece was well-written and full of information. Her lead brings the reader in effortlessly and gives you an "upclose and personal" feel. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but when I read this piece I felt like I was there. The key to her article was that it didn’t read like a book report. It was polished, well organized and thorough. Good luck, Emma. You have the makings of a top-notch environmental journalist if you work hard.


T1 Government Reporting

First Place: Keoki Kerr, KITV 4 News, Bus Smart Card Contract Awarded to Campaign Supporter

Comments: Keoki Kerr explains a complicated tale of a questionable government contract with exceptional clarity. I hope he continues to pursue this story as it unfolds in time.

T2 Business Reporting

First Place: Britt Riedl, John Allen, KGMB 9, Dental Day Spa

Comments: Britt Riedl captures the relaxation of the day spa dentist through a terrific combination of photography and editing by John Allen. A reminder of television’s power to take viewers into the story.

Finalist: Mahealani Richardson, KITV 4 News, American Idol Union Turf Battle

Comments: Good pacing, good writing, good flow. Needed more perspectives and less of the obvious – American Idol is big $; Hawaii wants a good image. Good future potential for this reporter

T3 General News/Enterprise Reporting

First Place: Keoki Kerr, KITV 4 News, Water Headquarters Security Easily Breached

Judges’ comments: This was a great enterprise story... on a very timely issue. Very bold for the TV station to run it when they were told not to. And it's great that the story actually resulted in more security. Kudos all around!

Finalist: Daryl Huff, KITV 4 News, Naked Statue

Judges’ comments: Great to see a reporter looking for a story even when they're on vacation. This was interesting and applicable to your market, and epitomizes an "enterprised" story.

Finalist: Darren Pai, Duncan Armstrong, KHNL News 8, Canal Cleanup

Judges’ Comments: Loved the fact that a man who would otherwise do an important, messy job unnoticed got some credit. Nice storytelling.

T4 Feature Reporting/Short Form

No entries

T5 Feature Reporting/Long Form

First Place: Gary Sprinkle, KITV 4 News, Mokulua Project

Comments: Informative. Great visuals. ... Made topic interesting by bringing it closer.

Finalist: Cindy Paliracio, Duncan Armstrong, KHNL News 8, Gift of Life

Comments: Good setup.

T6 Investigative Reporting

First Place: Louise Kim McCoy, George Hurd, Chris Skapik, Glenn Holcomb, John Allen, KGMB 9, Eye on Hawaii Special Report on GHB Part I and II

Comments: Nicely produced. – great lighting, nice camera shots, good setup on reporter stand-ups. The shot in the nightclub to show how hard it was to read the test results was a nice touch.

Good, solid information broken down in an easy-to-understand way. You get the sense that the reporter really did her homework and knew the subject so well that she could explain it to almost anyone. I think it also contributed to how concisely everything was presented ... not to much information ... not too little.

Sound bites from the lab technician and the medical examiner were light on the "tech-speak" and also easy to understand.

Made the point ... don’t rely on the test, rely on common sense ... by letting the story unfold.

T7 Series Reporting

No award given.


No entries

T9 Videography

First Place: Kenneth E.T. Chong, KITV 4 News, Mixed Plate: The Great Western War

Comments: Judges liked the open video and editing. Nice use of music and letting the video breathe to take time to watch the action.

Finalist: Duncan Armstrong, KHNL News 8, Forgotten Ship

Finalist: Kenneth E.T. Chong, KITV 4 News, Pohakuloa Live Fire Training

T10 Special News Program

First Place: Gary Sprinkle, KITV 4 News, Pacific Adventures: Kauai

Judges’ comments: This special was top notch. Great storytelling, editing and photography. At the end, I felt like I'd learned about how the past and future are tied together. I loved all the "color" in the pieces and the use of natural sound as well. It was like watching a National Geographic Special.

Finalist: Daryl Huff, KITV 4 News, Fighting School Failure

Judges’ comments: Great to see a local station tackle such an important issue. It was great to compare the schools to the ones in Virginia. It is evident a lot of work went into this.

T11 Public Service Reporting

First Place: Gary Sprinkle, KITV 4 News, Pacific Adventures: Pohnpei

Comments: While I question this piece being entered in the "public service reporting" category, I still found it to be the most compelling of the three. The topic was interesting. The script was well written, yet simple to follow. The interviews were unique and added greatly to the piece. The shooting and editing were simple, but worked. There were a few too many zoom-outs for my taste, however. In general, this was a piece that as a viewer could have held my interest and would have made me feel smarter after watching it.

Finalist: Daryl Huff, KITV 4 News, Fighting School Failure

Comments: The topic was certainly an ambitious one and fit this category the best of all three entrants. The comparison with the school district in Virginia was also excellent. I, however, was curious as to why we saw what was going right in Virginia before we looked at what was wrong in Hawaii. Logically, I would like to have seen the "problem" and then the "solution." The piece on teacher retraining was specifically a solid package. I felt the reporter did a comprehensive job looking at the issue, interviewing the people with the most important opinions and firsthand knowledge. The reporter-anchor interaction should have been cut, or done so it was less staged and more natural.

Hawaii SPJ