For the third year in a row, Civil Beat was named the best news website in Hawaii by the Society of Professional Journalist’s Hawaii Chapter and was awarded top honors for online news reporting.

Civil Beat won five first place awards in all and was recognized as a finalist seven times in SPJ’s 2012 Excellence in Journalism Awards. SPJ names one first place winner and up to two finalists without rank in each category.

The awards were for work in 2012, Civil Beat’s third year of reporting.

In awarding the best website prize, the judges noted that the website is “clean, easy to navigate, and most importantly, dedicated to news.”

The best online news entry was a piece entitled “Can a White Federal Agent Who Killed a Hawaii Local Get a Fair Trial?” The story looked at the racially charged trial of Christopher Deedy, a federal agent accused of killing a local man in a Waikiki McDonald’s. The judges praised Nick Grube’s “strong writing and reporting and choice of subject matter,” and the “clear explanation of past and present events.”

The award for best online feature reporting went to Civil Beat’s three-part series on former Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto and his collection of dilapidated multi-million-dollar properties along Kahala Avenue.

Our Hawaiian Spring, a Facebook voting game aimed at engaging Hawaii voters and boosting voter turnout, won first place for best reporting using social media.

The top prize for column writing went to Civil Beat columnist Ian Lind for his weekly commentary in “Hawaii Monitor.” The judge said: “I love a columnist that sees his or her job as an investigatory one.”

Civil Beat was also named a finalist for investigative reporting with “Cops, Prostitutes and Pimps — Series on Sex Trafficking in Honolulu.” An eight-part series entitled “Hawaii’s Vanishing Voter — Special Report on Voter Participation” was a finalist in the public service reporting category.

Civil Beat’s finalists were:

The awards were judged by the SPJ’s Indiana Chapter.