Stephens Media brings home 11 awards


Stephens Media Hawaii newspapers took home 11 trophies, including four first-place honors, in the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii chapter 2012 Excellence in Journalism awards, presented Friday in Honolulu.

The contest, covering print, broadcast and online media, was judged by the Indiana SPJ chapter.

Stephens Media’s two daily newspapers on Hawaii Island swept the short feature category, taking first place, as well as the two finalist awards in the category.

West Hawaii Today reporter Carolyn Lucas-Zenk took first place with “Marines form unusual friendship with lion.” Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter Colin Stewart, with “Puu Oo,” and West Hawaii Today reporter Chelsea Jensen, with “Ride, Zaly Ride,” were finalists.

West Hawaii Today reporters Nancy Cook Lauer and Erin Miller won first place in the general news/enterprise reporting category for a package of articles on Hawaii County’s solid waste crisis.

“This package clearly has the best material in the category,” the judges said.

The judges went on to offer specific criticisms and tips to make the stories even better.

Miller picked up a finalist award in the same category for her article, “No Kayak for You.”

“This story has a strong lede and is told authoritatively,” the judges said.

Hawaii Tribune-Herald’s Meg Scarbrough won first place in feature page design with “Faces of Survival.”

“This winning design clearly stood out from the competition by emphasizing storytelling through faces, images and copy blocks, without relying on gimmicks or cluttering the page,” the judges said.

There were no finalists.

“Entries were high in energy and effort, although some took design elements to the extreme and not to the benefit of the reader. The winning entry had the right combination of sophistication and reader-first approach,” the judge added.

Tribune-Herald staff also won first place for news page design for its primary election front page.

“Nice page on deadline, the equal play was the right choice given the news of the day,” the judges said, while also offering specific criticism. “That said, election night pages are hard to pull off and this one was nicely done. “

Lauer’s article on the bungled primary, “Primary Problems to Ponder,” was a finalist in the government reporting category.

“This story takes voters behind the scenes of a primary election mess in which many of Hawaii County’s polls opened late and the state took over running the general election,” the judges said. “Nancy Cook Lauer makes outstanding use of public records to show that top officials knew they had a mess on their hands before the primary but didn’t work together to sort it out.”

Miller and Jensen were recognized as finalists in the business reporting category for “Checking Out.”

“This could have been a simple daily news story, but the context added made it more,” the judges said. “The human element of hotel employees woven into the narrative made it an engaging read. Well-written deadline story.”

Tribune-Herald photojournalist Hollyn Johnson captured finalist recognition for “Pahala wildfire rages.”

“We believe the two images displayed helped readers understand the impact of the fire on their community,” the judges said. “Some photographers may have been too quick to tighten their frame on the firefighters but this photographer had the right presence of mind to show the size of the blaze which made this entry a finalist.”

Tribune-Herald staff were also recognized as finalists for “Celebrate Hula,” a special section commemorating the Merrie Monarch Festival.