Maui News staffers earn 16 awards from journalism professionals group

Maui’s Last Harvest nets journalism prize

Stevedores Leighton Emura (left) and Keoki Brown cast off the Moku Pahu’s mooring lines while readying the sugar ship to depart Kahului Harbor on Dec. 16, 2016, with its last load of unprocessed sugar bound for California. Maui News photographer Matthew Thayer took first place in the All Media: Photo/Video Essay category for photos in “The Last Harvest,” a Jan. 22, 2017, compilation of stories chronicling the end of sugar on Maui with the shutdown of the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. plantation. The judges said the storytelling in the photos “won us over.” -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Maui News staffers and a columnist received 16 awards, including five first-place honors, from the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter during the 2017 Excellence in Journalism Awards ceremony Friday night on Oahu.

Staff Writer Colleen Uechi earned first place in the Daily Newspaper: General News/Enterprise Reporting category for “Baldwin Beach homeless sweep,” a May 3, 2017, story about homeless people being ordered to vacate the Paia park. Judges called the article a “thorough job reporting on a difficult community issue.”

In the same category, Staff Writer Chris Sugidono was a finalist for “No more ‘last call for alcohol’ for some,” published March 23, 2017, about the county Liquor Control Commission’s approval of 24-hour purchase of alcohol at stores and hotels. After public outcry, the commission later rescinded the change.

Judges praised the story for a “good job reflecting the sentiments of your community and serving as their watchdog.”

The March 25, 2017, story “Capobianco sentenced” about convicted murderer Steven Capobianco took first place in the Daily Newspaper: Spot News Reporting category for Staff Writer Lila Fujimoto. The judges commented on the “great capture of the emotion in the courtroom by the picture and the story.”

Colleen Uechi

Photographer Matthew Thayer’s photo accompanying the story showed Robert Scott, the father of victim Carly “Charli” Scott, confronting defense attorney Jon Apo at the sentencing hearing. The photo was a finalist in the All Media: News Photography/Videography category.

Thayer won a first-place award in the same category for photos of a Happy Valley resident knee-deep in water in his home for a Dec. 21 story about flooding brought on by heavy rain in Central Maui.

He also took first place in the All Media: Photo/Video Essay category for photos in “The Last Harvest,” a Jan. 22, 2017, compilation of stories chronicling the end of sugar on Maui with the shutdown of the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. plantation. The judges said the storytelling in the photos “won us over.”

Thayer was a finalist in the All Video: Sports Photography/Videography category for “Molokai’s Payton Kaalekahi,” his April 9, 2017, photo of a Maui interscholastic judo meet.

In the Daily Newspaper: Feature Writing/Long Form category, Carla Tracy, dining editor in the Special Sections division of The Maui News advertising department, won first place for “Speed Dating II: Engagingly brief interludes with famous chefs . . .”

Chris Sugidono

“What a fresh take on food writing,” the judges said about the story, published July 16 in Pau Hana. “This feature was playful and informative and the writer certainly came across as an expert in her field. It was light, fun and mouth-wateringly frank.”

Finalists in the category were Managing Editor Lee Imada for “Merwin’s garden,” published Sept. 17 about poet laureate W.S. Merwin’s palm forest in Haiku; and Uechi for her March 5, 2017, story “40 years after men’s disappearance” on the legacy of four men who disappeared at sea off Kahoolawe in 1977.

Uechi also was recognized for her story and photos in “Showdown in Pukalani,” which was published Aug. 3 about protesters attempting to stop a convoy carrying materials for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope to the summit of Haleakala. The entry was a finalist in three categories — Daily Newspaper: Spot News Reporting, All Media: Breaking News Reporting and All Media: News Photography/Videography.

In the Daily Newspaper: Feature Writing/Short Form category, Staff Writer Robert Collias was a finalist for “A family of Warriors,” an Oct. 13 article about the recovery from a stroke of former Kamehameha School Maui girls volleyball coach Bala Spencer.

Collias also was a finalist in All Media: Sports Reporting for “2016-17 MIL Boys Athlete of the Year.” The article, published June 23, 2017, was about Micah Jio, the Maui Interscholastic League Division I Player of the Year in baseball and a first-team D-I basketball All-Star in his senior year at Maui High School.

Lila Fujimoto

Also receiving finalist honors was freelance journalist and documentary scriptwriter-/producer Rick Chatenever for his “Maui Connections” column in the All Media: Column Writing or Blog/News. The weekly column is published Tuesdays.

Matthew Thayer

Carla Tracy

Lee Imada

Robert Collias

Rick Chatenever