skip to Main Content

UH Mānoa journalism students honored for their excellence in producing news

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Brett Oppegaard, (808) 956-3340
Social Sciences, School of Communications
Posted: Jul 5, 2018

Journalism Award Winners
Journalism Award Winners
SPJ Interns
SPJ Interns

Journalism majors in the College of Social Sciences at UH Mānoa nearly swept this year’s statewide Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) awards for students. Those Excellence in Journalism honors were announced as a part of the organization’s annual competition.

As the field of journalism has been under attack nationally – both via political rhetoric and actual physical attacks and threats – UH Mānoa journalism students in the School of Communications have been ambitiously creating new digital media channels for the community – such as Ho‘a O’ahu and UHMtv.  They also have been increasingly excelling in their reporting and production techniques, per the growing number of accolades this year, with the latest tally serving as a new programmatic benchmark.

In this contest, SPJ Hawai‘i offered statewide recognition of 18 student projects, with UH Mānoa journalism majors winning 15 of those, plus one award given to a University of Alabama student who collaborated with an UH Mānoa student on a project.

Victoria Cuba’s Ho‘a O‘ahu multimedia story, “At the Frontlines of Homelessness,” which covered one man’s battle against homelessness in Hawaiʻi, earned first place in the highly coveted category of Student News Reporting in Any Media.

Annabelle Le Jeune’s Ho‘a O‘ahu story about “Why a Hawai‘i Sculptor Keeps Returning to the Same Hill in India” included original reporting from Arunachala, India, supported by an UH journalism program scholarship. The piece was later updated and published by Civil Beat. The multimedia package earned Le Jeune first place for Student Feature Reporting in Any Media as well as finalist awards for Student Video News and Student Photography. Le Jeune also earned a finalist award in Student News Reporting in Any Media for a UHMtv package she created about “Farming Pesticides,” which covered a controversial measure to regulate pesticides in island agriculture.

Drew Afualo’s Ho‘a O‘ahu multimedia package about a high-school phenom in Hawaiʻi taking his gridiron talents to the University of Alabama, “Small Kine Famous,” detailed Tua Tagovailoa’s transition to college football before he helped lead his team to the national championship in dramatic fashion. Reporting in both Hawaiʻi and Tuscaloosa, with travel supported by a UH journalism program scholarship, Afualo earned first place in Student Spot News in Any Media for the story, and her University of Alabama collaborator on the piece, photojournalist Caroline Japal, also earned a finalist nod by SPJ Hawai‘i for her accompanying images.

Dillon Ancheta, a recent alum who now works at Hawai‘i News Now as a digital content producer, had his UHMtv package on “Ala Wai Filth” earn first place in Student Investigative Reporting in Any Media. The in-depth piece covered the long-term concerns of sewage in the Waikīkī canal.

Earning a finalist award in the same category as Ancheta was Brandon Rivera’s Ho‘a O‘ahu piece on “Illegal Dumping: The Landfills in Our Backyard.”  Rivera also earned a finalist award in the Student Spot News in Any Media for his UHMtv package on “Cliff Jumping.”

Keon Diego also earned a finalist award for Student Spot News in Any Media for his UHMtv package “Sunscreen Ban,” which covered calls by environmentalists to ban a chemical found in sunscreens that is believed to harm coral reefs.

Danielle Vallejo’s Ho‘a O‘ahu expose on illegal cockfighting in Hawaiʻi, “The Man Behind the Knife,” earned first place for Student Photography and a finalist award for Student Investigative Reporting in Any Media.

Kristen Wong earned first place in the Student Video News category for her UHMtv package on “Traditional Hawaiian Tattoos” and the controversies surrounding legislative, cultural and safety aspects of the ancient body art.

Nicole Tam, who recently completed her journalism studies at UH Mānoa and is serving as Ka Leo’s editor in 2018, earned two finalist awards: one in the Student Feature Reporting in Any Media category for “24,000 Meals a Year,” which was published in Hawaii Business magazine; and one in the Student Video News category for a UHMtv segment on “Rat Lungworm Disease,” with travel to Pahoa supported by a UH journalism program scholarship.

The two other award winners were finalists in Student News Reporting in Any Media (Jordan Virtue, “Big Plans,” Harvard University) and Student Feature Reporting in Any Media (Ashley Mizuo, “The Words Behind the Picture Brides,” Loyola University Chicago).

In addition, of the 11 internships funded by SPJ Hawai‘i this year, five of the students were from UH Mānoa: Darryl Kaneyuki (Hawaii Business), Shannon Manamtam (KITV4), Harrison Patino (Hawaii Public Radio), Mika Morii Rawson (Alexander & Baldwin) and Jasmine Yi (Pacific Edge). A sixth intern was from Leeward Community College: Jasmine Bautista (Hawaii).


Full Photo Captions:

  1. Journalism Award Winners: Awards winners, SPJ 2018, from left to right, Professor Ann Auman, students Nicole Tam, Bianca Smallwood, Annabelle Le Jeune and Dillon Ancheta, and instructor Sherrie White
  2. SPJ Interns: UH Manoa SPJ interns 2018, from left to right, Darryl Kaneyuki (Hawaii Business magazine), Mika Morii Rawson (Alexander & Baldwin) and Shannon Manamtam (KITV4).


More About the School of Communications
The School of Communications (COM/JOUR) in the UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences improves the ways in which people talk to each other – in Hawai‘i and beyond – through all mediated channels, from voice-to-voice conversations to dynamic interactions via emerging technologies. The school strives for excellence in all areas of teaching, research and practice while embracing the contemporary challenges of complex and multicultural contexts involving communication and journalism.

More About Ho‘a O’ahu
Ho‘a O’ahu is an independent student news website, advised by Associate Professor Brett Oppegaard.

More About UHMtv
UHMtv is sponsored by the College of Social Sciences. The 30-minute video news magazine that airs at the culmination of each semester on broadcast television network station KFVE. It is written, hosted and produced by journalism students from the School of Communications as part of the capstone course for majors overseen by Professors Gerald Kato and Brett Oppegaard, and UHMtv instructors Bernadette Baraquio (Executive Producer) and Sherrie White (Media Lab Director).