Maui News Wins 15 Journalism Excellence Awards | News, Sports, Jobs

For coverage of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, profiles of sports figures and photos of key Maui moments, The Maui News has won 15 awards for excellence in journalism.

The Hawaii Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hosted the 2020 Awards for Excellence in Journalism on Wednesday night via Zoom.

For “Personal stories behind the pandemic.” The series highlighted businesses struggling to stay alive, workers struggling to file for unemployment, high school students studying from home and others affected by the pandemic.

“This series tells the toll of the pandemic on the inhabitants of Maui”, the judges said. “The photos are concise but illuminating. Congratulations to the journalists and editors who played a role in expertly documenting this period in history! “

The judges awarded second place to Dakota Grossman for her reporting on a Maui family reflecting deceased loved ones in Pearl Harbor, and third place to journalist Melissa Tanji for her profile on the Native Hawaiian leader. “Uncle Les” Kuloloio after his death at 79.


Tanji and the city’s deputy editor-in-chief Colleen Uechi took first place in the General Information / Corporate Reports category for daily newspapers with a series of articles on the first COVID-19 cluster at Maui Memorial Medical Center, which has grown to include over 50 patients and staff. Tanji and Uechi chronicled the rise of the cluster and the frank discussion among officials about where things went wrong.

“Solid reports that have shown the chaos and confusion around a COVID-19 cluster”, the judges noticed. “Stories like these highlight the importance of communication during a crisis.”

Grossman got second place in the category for “A possible explosion of ammunition off Molokini raises concerns”, while Uechi took third place for “Remember Charli” an account of the day Carly “Charlie” Scott’s family were allowed to see their daughter’s remains for the first time.

A sports and news reporter, Grossman also finished third in the All Media Sports Reporting category for “AOY Rewind: McLean Comes Back to Life on Valley Island”, part of a Maui News Sports Department limited series catching up with past Maui County Athlete of the Year winners.

In the Feature Film Writing / Long Form category, photographer and writer Matthew Thayer took first place for his story, “Time to rethink about shaking hands?” “, which weighed in on different perspectives on the meaning of shaking hands before and after the coronavirus.


“This story presented the perfect blend of endearing first-person accounts and insightful interviews,” the judges said. “The writer let the story unfold, mirroring the trajectory of the pandemic in its infancy in a well-written, easy-to-read article. “

Collias won second place in the category for “Cherish every moment” on the family of a local wrestler despite their mother’s tragic cancer diagnosis, while Uechi was awarded third place for “Mission accomplished: Lee Imada looks back on 40 years with The Maui News”, profile the outgoing editor-in-chief of the newspaper.

Thayer has also won numerous awards for his photography, placing second in the News Photography / Videoography category of the All Media division for “Idle rental cars fill the landscape” and third place in the same category for “The witness hears the suspect say ‘go to hell’, then hears a ‘pop'” a photograph of a witness recounting the gunshot he heard in a Napili murder case.

Thayer also took third place in the All Media Sports Photography / Videography category for high school football cover photos.

His photo report, “Once upon a time in Maui,” chronicled the deserted beaches, roads and neighborhoods around Maui as travel and everyday life came to a halt, and won third place in the All Media Photo / Video Essay category.

Disgusting man

In the All Media Best Explanatory Journalism category, Thayer took third place for his photos and story, “Rising sea levels are having an impact on the coasts – and it will only get worse” highlighting the issue of climate change and sea level rise in vulnerable coastal areas around Maui.

“Maui News drew on experts, local knowledge and poignant photos to highlight an issue that should sound alarm bells all over Hawaii,” the judges said.

SPJ Hawaii’s entries this year were judged by the Louisville Chapters.




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