By Léo Azambuja

Leo Pai AwardsMahalo nui loa to all our readers and supporters! It was because of you For Kaua‘i received a prestigious state journalism award last month. We were the only publication from Kaua‘i to snatch a prize during the Hawai‘i Publishers Association’s 30th Annual Pa‘i Awards, held at the Plaza Club in Honolulu May 15.

For Kaua‘i won Second Best Editorial Opinion for “The Dream of Lasting Peace,” an editorial against racism published last August. And we won it simply because I listened to you.

Besides double- and triple-checking facts for accuracy, good reporters really listen to people. Facts are essential to tell the story, but it is the human experience that connects us to each other.

So over the years, I’ve listened to people a lot. I gave them an outlet for their suffering as well as their joy. I’ve listened to those who’ve lost homes to fires and who’ve lost spouses and children to accidents and murders. But I’ve also listened to people who’ve accomplished extraordinary things, and there is no shortage of those on Kaua‘i.

Each time, I became more human. So thank you for that.

Last year, while getting ready to write my monthly editorial column for August, I came across international news that a man running to become the head of Italy’s soccer federation referred to African players as “banana eaters” in a public statement.

Disgusted by such news, I wrote a passionate editorial opinion against racism. When the paper came out, I uploaded the editorial to our website and then shared it on Facebook. To my surprise, the editorial immediately caught the attention of dozens who shared it on their Facebook pages.

Earlier this year, while deciding on a handful of entries to submit to HPA for the Pa‘i Awards, one of the main reasons I chose “The Dream of Lasting Peace” was how popular it was among our readers. I’m well aware no one is a better critic than our readers, and the award we won this year just validates this.

This was not my first rodeo at the Pa‘i Awards. Before taking the editor job at For Kaua‘i, I was a county government reporter at Kaua‘i’s only daily newspaper. Over the years, I won several Pa‘i Awards in many categories, including photography, enterprise reporting, investigative reporting, online news, a couple editorial series and a special section on the 20th anniversary of Hurricane ‘Iniki.

But this one has a special feeling.

This is the first time For Kaua‘i has won an award. It is the first award I have won as an editor rather than as a reporter. We are the only publication on Kaua‘i that has won anything at this year’s Pa‘i Awards.

But best of all, we only have 12 editions a year, and the Editorial Opinion category is a coveted prize. We competed against several daily and non-daily publications throughout Hawai‘i, and yet we snatched one of the two top prizes.

It was truly an honor to represent our island at the Pa‘i Awards this year, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

Mahalo nui loa for all your support. It is because of you that we are in business and continue to grow each year.