Hawaii Reporter received six awards at the Society of Professional Journalists awards banquet on Friday, June 28, including three first places awards.
Investigative reporter Jim Dooley was presented with the highest honor, the SPJ Public Service Reporting award, for his series on prisoners released on the state’s HOPE Probation program who then committed additional violent felonies.
HOPE Probation is a well recognized and respected probation program developed by Hawaii’s First Circuit Judge Steven Alm, which is being replicated across the country. Dooley’s reports, however, exposed that despite HOPE Probation’s success, felons on probation were in fact victimizing innocent people, including two children who were raped by a repeat offender.
Hawaii Reporter also won SPJ’s highest Government Reporting award and was a finalist in SPJ’s Investigative Reporting award category for a series of reports on the missing University of Hawaii’s missing $200,000.
University officials admitted last fall they’d sent a $200,000 deposit to scammers in Miami, Florida, who claimed to represent Stevie Wonder but they in fact did not.
School officials did no due diligence before wiring the cash, and planned to send as much as $700,000 to the “agents” but were stopped when Stevie Wonder’s real agents contacted the University to tell them they’d been scammed.
The University already sold concert tickets and had to return the money to ticket holders.
To determine exactly how the University was scammed and by who, Hawaii Reporter’s Malia Zimmerman flew 5,000 miles to Miami, Florida, and drove another 500 miles to track down the principals at their homes and the so called “world headquarters” of Epic Talent LLC.
The world headquarters was actually a PO Box in a strip mall and the principals of what was supposedly an international talent company lived in a dilapidated, high crime area of Miami Garden, Florida.
Hawaii Reporter also won a first place award for Best Multi Media Presentation for the investigation into underage sex trafficking at several businesses located at 350 Ward Avenue.
Another finalist award went to Hawaii Reporter for Best Overall News Site, which includes presentation and design.
Cartoonist John Pritchett won an award for his cartoon, Victoria Secret Service.