University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Communications journalism students and recent graduates swept the student media portion of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Hawaiʻi Chapter Excellence in Journalism Awards ceremony on June 26.

Alex Bitter, who was editor of UH Mānoa student newspaper Ka Leo during the 2014-15 academic year and is currently a Dow Jones News Fund summer intern at in New York City, took first place in the Student News Reporting in Any Media category. Judges said that his article, “Financial problems at Hawaiʻi Pacific University” in Hawaiʻi Business Magazine, was “well-sourced, diligent work trying to get the details of the budget from a private university that seems intent to keep the problems private. Important reporting, with clear graphics to help readers through the numbers.”

Finalists in the news category were recent graduates Deborah Manog and Bobby Bergonio for “Mission of Mercy,” an article they co-wrote in Hawaiʻi Business Magazine about the non-profit organization Aloha Medical Mission. While still UH students, Manog and Bergonio, now both alumni of the UH Mānoa journalism program, traveled to the Philippines with volunteers from the Aloha Medical Mission to report on medical care and surgeries the volunteers performed for the needy. The judges wrote, “Lovely storytelling here, with vivid details about the scene and the scenarios surrounding these surgeries.”

Noelle Fujii, a UH journalism major who is editor of Ka Leo for the 2015-16 academic year, was also a finalist in this category for her story, Hawaiʻi universities attract a global student body” in Hawaiʻi Business Magazine.

For the Student Feature Reporting in Any Media category, Bitter won first place for his article, “California Dreaming,” in Hawaiʻi Business Magazine. The article was about why Hawaiʻi’s pro surfers have a hard time getting endorsements. One of the sources in this article was Daniel Ikaika Ito, editor-in-chief of Honolulu’s Contrast Magazine and a graduate of the UH Mānoa journalism program. Ito and many UH journalism alumni were at the awards ceremony. Finalists for this category were Fujii for “We may love opihi too much” in Hawaiʻi Business magazine, and Manog and Bergonio for “Aloha Medical Mission breathes new life into Tuguegarao City,” published on Ka Hui Hoʻolauna TV and website by the journalism program and the College of Social Sciences. No other schools won awards in the Student News Reporting and Student Feature Reporting categories at the SPJ Hawaiʻi Chapter awards ceremony. All entries were sent to the mainland for independent judging.

The awards ceremony was also a chance to recognize SPJ Hawaiʻi Chapter summer interns placed at various media organizations and one business throughout Hawaiʻi. UH Mānoa SPJ interns from left, Marina Riker, Shiwani Johnson, Mathew Ursua, Bianca Bystrom Pino and Victoria Cuba.

A School of Communications news release