West Hawaii Today earns 5 Pai Awards


West Hawaii Today won five awards at the Hawaii Publishers Association’s 29th annual Pai Awards held Thursday on Oahu. The awards were among 13 given to Stephens Media Hawaii, the parent company of West Hawaii Today and Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Digital Content Editor Chelsea Jensen earned first place for spot news reporting for her coverage of a June 2013 shark attack in which a 28-year-old Kailua-Kona man suffered bites to his leg while swimming in waters off the Mahaiula area in North Kona.

The spot news reporting award is presented for the best first-day coverage of a one-time event under tight deadlines.

“Excellent spot news reporting and fluid writing,” the judges said about the article, titled “Fat Blood Trail.” “Also efficient. Some stories go into excessive detail. This one does not.”

Jensen also earned second place in the excellence in cover design on newsprint stock for a piece titled “Fall for Apples.”

“Great use of apples that seem to create movement on the page. An ordinary object turned into a piece of art!” the judges said.

Reporter Nancy Cook Lauer also earned two awards, first place for editorial enterprise reporting and second place for investigative reporting for her article titled “Food Thrown Out,” which brought light to the Hawaii Island Food Basket throwing out more than 19,000 pounds of food because it couldn’t distribute it fast enough after the Hawaii County Council declared a food emergency and gave it $275,000.

The editorial enterprise reporting award is given to publications breaking a story with an exclusive or unique angle regardless of the publication’s schedule. The investigate reporting award recognizes investigative reporting by a reporter or reporting team.

“The local long-term impact of this story puts it above the rest, especially on a visible issue that affects so many people. Well-sourced work initially on the nonprofit reporting requirements, then a complete, understandable explanation as to what the nonprofit did — or didn’t do — with the food and why. While the intent of the county council is admirable, the story shows where the road can lead even when it’s paved with the best intentions — especially in an election year,” the judge’s said of Cook Lauer’s.

They added, “Strong watchdog work that helped keep the local Food Basket accountable for a sudden infusion of public funds. Thorough and detailed, with follow-up stories that served readers well.”

Associate Editor Brenda Jensen earned first place for excellence in cover design on newsprint stock for a piece titled “Got rocks?” The award recognizes the best overall use of artwork and/or graphic design for a cover on newsprint stock.

“The use of colors and grouping of objects make for a stunning presentation,” the judges noted. “Simple typography is clean and not overpowering.”

Entries for the Pai Awards were judged by working journalists, photographers, editors and professors based on the mainland to ensure impartiality, according to the association. Awards are given for first and second place in 32 categories.

Also during the awards luncheon, the association recognized former West Hawaii Today publisher Rick Asbach and Hawaii Tribune-Herald publisher Ted Dixon as this year’s inductees into the Hawaii Publisher’s Association Hall of Fame.

Asbach, who first started working as an assistant advertising director in Hilo in the mid-1970s, took over the helm of West Hawaii Today in 1984. He remained in the position for 26 years before retiring in 2010.

West Hawaii Today affiliate Hawaii Tribune-Herald earned eight awards during the event.

The Hilo-based newspaper earned first place for feature photography on newsprint stock and investigative reporting. It earned second place for special section excellence, excellence in design on newsprint stock, spot news photography, editorial series, editorial enterprise reporting and spot news reporting.