Dispatch Wins 5 Journalism Awards

By The Molokai Dispatch Staff

At last week’s Society of Professional Journalism Hawaii Chapter Excellence in Journalism Awards, The Molokai Dispatch was honored with five Excellence in Journalism awards for coverage in 2021. The statewide awards are presented annually in newspaper, TV, radio and magazine categories and this year, recipients were announced via Zoom conference on Aug. 17. 

In the non-daily newspaper category for feature writing, The Molokai Dispatch Editor Catherine Cluett Pactol won first place for “Molokai’s Kakawahie: A Lost Species.” 

“Really nice story about a bird species that has gone from endangered to extinct,” the judges commented. “Engaging and well-written.”

The story brought the kakawahie to life so readers could learn about it, even though they will never experience it themselves. 

“Blazing orange feathers flash among ‘ohia foliage of Molokai’s lower forests. The bird’s ‘chip chip chip’ call is punctuated with its beak tapping on branches looking for insects, which it also finds deep within liko lehua, or buds,” the story begins. “This is the kakawahie, or Molokai creeper, an endemic bird found only on Molokai. But it isn’t a sight or sound we can ever experience. The kakawahie hasn’t been seen since 1963, and it’s about to be declared extinct.”

Pactol would like to add a special note of mahalo and memorial for one of the story’s primary sources, Fern Duvall, a wildlife biologist specializing in Hawaii’s native birds, who passed away suddenly last year shortly after the story printed. 

In the non-daily newspaper community reporting category, “Woman Disappears at Pala’au Park” by Pactol won first place. The series documented the mysterious case of a missing woman, Gianina Reid, in June 2021 and the ensuing searches that never yielded any answers. 

“Pactol tells a compelling story about the disappearance of a troubled young woman,” the judges wrote in their comments. 

For general news/enterprise reporting, Pactol won first place for a series documenting Hawaiian Airlines’ halt to Molokai service last year and Mokulele as the island’s sole air travel provider. “‘Ohana by Hawaiian Leaves Molokai with Single Airline” received the following judges’ comments: “Solid news reporting. Good examination of the impact on passengers with disabilities.”

In the same category, Pactol’s “A Legacy of Love’s” that honored Love’s Bakery and its former employees on Molokai, won third place. 

In the news page design category, The Molokai Dispatch graphic designer Marissa Motas won second place for her “Year in Review 2021,” an eye-catching layout that captured the year-end summary of Molokai’s most newsworthy photos. 

Stories can be found on themolokaidispatch.com. 

We also recognize Molokai photographer and regular Dispatch contributor PF Bentley, who won two first place awards and a second place award for his photography in Hawaiian Airlines Hana Hou! magazine, featuring Molokai images. 

The Molokai Dispatch has now won 30 Excellence in Journalism awards since 2014 for its coverage of local events and issues. The Molokai Dispatch staff is honored to receive this recognition and be named among the state’s most respected news sources, and we are grateful to our community for their continued support. The paper has been printing weekly since 1985. 


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