WHT earns 8 Pai awards


West Hawaii Today won eight awards at the Hawaii Publishers Association’s 28th Annual Pai Awards Thursday.

A series on energy costs in Hawaii took first place in the editorial series category.

Judges described the series, to which all four West Hawaii Today reporters — Carolyn Lucas-Zenk, Erin Miller, Nancy Cook Lauer and Chelsea Jensen — contributed, “an in-depth report on a topic that’s important to people and the community. Its strength is detailed reporting. It’s the kind of public-interest journalism — devoting resources to important but difficult, unglitzy issues — that is threatened by the diminishing resources of news organizations. Compliments to this newspaper and its staff for tackling the issue.”

Cook Lauer took first place in the editorial enterprise category with an article on the problems that plagued the county’s primary election.

Cook Lauer “unveils sloth and indifference on the part of Hilo election workers to interfere with a primary election. This is a very strong story showing deep research and a justifiable sense of outrage,” the judges said.

Jensen earned second place in the spot news category for her report on a Kealakehe High School brawl last December.

“When a school goes on lockdown and has to close down for a day, it won’t be easy to gather a wealth of sources; still, this reporter found a way to get more than just the public relations angle from the principal,” judges said.

She also received honorable mention in that category for an article about an FBI raid on a gambling operation.

Jensen won a second place award for spot news photography, for a photo of a brush fire in Ka‘u.

Page designer Brenda Jensen earned two design awards, second place and honorable mention in the excellence in cover design category.

Judges praised her work for its creative appeal.

“Compelling layout makes the reader want to become engaged,” judges said. “Love the way the color of the headline draws you into the image.”

Lucas-Zenk earned an honorable mention in the editorial feature category for her article about the training of a new generation of sheep shearers.

“A very nice newsy feature, with an especially strong lead,” judges said. “There were other stories that were perhaps stronger straight features, but — of the stories that started with a hard-news angle before pursuing a news feature approach — this was the best of the bunch. Nicely done.”