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 Now.com (Mary Vorsino, Ian Scheuring, Nicole Wilson, Scott Humber) took second place in the category while another Civil Beat site, offshorepodcast.org (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.
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 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.
“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.
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Patti Epler is the Editor and General Manager of Civil Beat. She's been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, primarily in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington and Arizona. You can follow her on twitter at @PattiEpler, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 808-377-0561.