Maui News staffers, columnist earn 11 SPJ excellence awards

Brian Perry

The Maui News

Maui News staffers and a columnist received 11 awards, including five first-place honors, from the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter during the 2016 Excellence in Journalism Awards ceremony Friday night on Oahu.

Coverage of the end of Maui’s sugar plantation and flooding in Iao Valley in September garnered the majority of the first-place awards.

Articles and photos regarding the closure of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. and the end of sugar cane on Maui resulted in four awards for The Maui News staff. The Jan. 7, 2016, story “HC&S closing” earned a first-place finish in the Daily Newspaper: Spot News

Reporting category for City Editor Brian Perry and Staff Writers Melissa Tanji and Chris Sugidono. The judges called it “an excellent package that provided thorough context and great stories of the people impacted.”

Melissa Tanji

Continuing coverage of the HC&S closure also earned first place in the Daily Newspaper: General News/Enterprise Reporting for Tanji and Staff Writers Colleen Uechi and Lila Fujimoto as well as in the All Media: Photo/Video Essay category for photographer Matthew Thayer. “The depth to which this story was documented is incredible,” the judges said.

Thayer also received finalist recognition in the Daily Newspaper: Feature Writing/Short Form category for his May 22, 2016, story “Tournahauler” about his experience driving one of the mammoth cane haulers. Uechi earned first-place honors in the same category for her Dec. 7 article “Pearl Harbor 75th.”

For their Sept. 15 and 16 coverage of the Iao Valley flooding, Uechi and Tanji received first place in the All Media: Breaking News Reporting category and finalist honors in the Daily Newspaper: Spot News Reporting. “Tremendous effort to slosh through a flood pays off with great color and interviews from victims,” the judges said.

Also receiving finalist honors were:

• Storyteller, actress and freelance writer Kathy Collins for her “Sharing Mana’o” column, which is published Wednesdays, in the All Media: Column Writing or Blog/Features or Sports category.

Chris Sugidono

• Sugidono and Uechi for their April 20, 2016, coverage of a fatal stabbing at the Foodland Kehalani store in the All Media: Breaking News Reporting category.

• Fujimoto, Sugidono and Tanji for their coverage of Steven Capobianco’s murder trial between June 2016 and December in the Daily Newspaper: General News/Enterprise Reporting category.

• Thayer for his July 4 photo “Rugged Bull” in the All Media: Sports Photography/Videography category.

Matthew Thayer

Colleen Uechi

Lila Fujimoto

Kathy Collins


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