Civil Beat journalists took home more than 20 awards for their work in 2018 at the Society of Professional Journalists annual awards dinner Friday, including being named the state’s best overall news site for the ninth year in a row.

The Hawaii chapter of SPJ honors journalists statewide in a competition that also raises money for its intern program that puts young journalists in newsrooms throughout Hawaii in summer training programs. This year’s banquet, which included newspaper, broadcast, magazine, online and student news outlets, was held at the Japanese Cultural Center in Honolulu.

The top prize of the evening, for public service reporting, went to Marcel Honore, April Estrellon and Cory Lum of Civil Beat for “Are We Ready?,” a multimedia package that explored whether Oahu is prepared if the island were to be hit by a major hurricane or tsunami. “Critical reporting covering an issue that could impact every resident,” the judges said. “Innovative delivery, as well.”

Civil Beat also took second place for public service for its investigative series, “Black Market Babies,” (John Hill, Emily Dugdale, April Estrellon, Jessica Terrell) that examined Marshallese adoptions and problems that continue to occur despite efforts 20 years ago to stop exploitation of vulnerable mothers.

Third place for public service went to Hawaii Business magazine’s Noelle Fujii and LiAnne Yu for “Reports on Climate Change.”

Civil Beat’s “Black Market Babies” also won the top investigative reporting prize in the contest that pits all media in the state against each other, no matter the platform.

Another Civil Beat investigative series by Hill, “Waiting In Pain” about workers compensation delays, took second place. No third place prize was awarded.

Civil Beat, which launched in 2010, was again named Best Overall News Site.

“This news organization produces important investigative journalism through in-depth reporting and thoughtful analysis that gives readers insight into a broad range of issues,” the judges wrote. “All of this is presented in an aesthetically pleasing package that includes great photos.”

Hawaii News (Mary Vorsino, Ian Scheuring, Nicole Wilson, Scott Humber) took second place in the category while another Civil Beat site, (Jessica Terrell, April Estrellon), picked up third place.

“This is a news organization doing what’s best and repeatedly standing up for its readers by attempting to hold public officials accountable.” — SPJ judge comment about the Civil Beat Editorial Board

Also in the All Media competition, Civil Beat columnists swept the category for news column writing with political writer Neal Milner taking first, opinion and politics editor Chad Blair taking second and health writer Kathleen Kozak picking up third place.

First place for government reporting went to Suevon Lee of Civil Beat for her piece on Title IX discrepancies in Hawaii schools, “Female Athletes Get The Short End Of The Stick At Some Hawaii High Schools,” which prompted legal action by the ACLU to force the state Department of Education to provide equal athletic facilities for girls and boys.

Chris Sugidono of the Maui News took second for a piece on a questionable grant, while HJ Mai and Janis Magin of Pacific Business News placed third for what the judges called “an in-depth look at just how inefficient our government can be.”

Civil Beat’s Brittany Lyte won first place for health reporting for her five-part series on “Hawaii’s Mental Health Care Crisis” while second place went to “Dying is Now a Choice” by Breena Kerr of Hawaii Business magazine.

Civil Beat editorials were singled out by judges, as well, for first- and third-place awards. “This is a news organization doing what’s best and repeatedly standing up for its readers by attempting to hold public officials accountable,” the judges wrote about editorials on police corruption and accountability.

Nancy Cook Lauer, who produces the All Hawaii News site, won second place for editorial and opinion writing.

Best Explanatory Journalism in the All Media competition went to Lee, Civil Beat’s education writer, for her series, “How Hawaii Schools Are Building Bridges To Micronesian Students,” that took her to Arkansas to look at educational models being used in the large Micronesian community there. That reporting effort was supported by a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network.

Second place went to Civil Beat’s “Are We Ready?” project and third place to “Child Care: Unavailable and Unaffordable” by Noelle Fujii of Hawaii Business.

In the Internet competition, Civil Beat also won first-place awards for “A Family Struggles To Understand The Death Of A Homeless Son,” a story by Lyte in the online feature reporting category, and for the multimedia package, “The Shark Chasers” by Alana Eagle and Nathan Eagle that accompanied scientists on a shark-tagging excursion to the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

“Wow! I loved everything about this: the illustration, the videos, the live tracker, and the photo essay,” the judge wrote. “A true multimedia extravaganza, and all contained in a single attractive online site. Amazing!!”

This year’s contest was judged by the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists except for the magazine overall design category which was judged by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

You can read the entire list of winners in all categories here.

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