HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii News Now won three first place awards in the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter's annual Excellence in Journalism Awards announced Friday.
The awards recognized reports in newspapers, magazines, the Internet, television and radio during 2015.
Reporters Rick Daysog and Mileka Lincoln took first place for government reporting for their series of reports on Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi's alleged misuse of his county credit card. Kenoi admitted that he used his county credit card at Honolulu hostess clubs and for other personal expenses. He's paid back more than $30,000 but it's not clear if he paid back all of the questionable expenses. He was indicted in March on theft charges in connection with the scandal.
Daysog also won first place for investigative reporting for stories about kickbacks at Honolulu International Airport. Taxi drivers at the airport complained of kickbacks and harassment from security workers employed by Securitas, an airport contractor.
Assignment editor Brenda Salgado, reporter Ben Gutierrez, and photojournalists Peter Tang and Tine Howard won the first place award for feature reporting for a story about Julia Engle, a Manoa woman who suffered brain damage and survived several surgeries after a 75-foot Cooke pine tree crashed into her bedroom while she slept. She was 12 when the incident happened. Ten years later, she received her college degree and is taking gymnastics classes.
The team of Gutierrez and Tang also were finalists in two other categories, including general news/enterprise reporting for a story about homeless women who claimed the city had taken their I.D.'s during a homeless camp sweep, and spot news reporting for their coverage of a protest on Maui where 20 people were arrested trying to block trucks from delivering equipment to the summit of Haleakala for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope.
Members of the Colorado Chapter of the SPJ judged the contest, with the exception of the Overall Magazine Layout category.