UH Hilo students gain insight at journalism symposium

UH Hilo Journalism Symposium held on Saturday provided students interested in the field of communication a wealth of information and support. 

By Lara Hughes.

Chad Blair,Katie Young Yamanaka, Michael Shapiro
(L-R) Chad Blair (reporter), Katie Young Yamanaka (freelance writer), and Michael Shapiro (editor) sit on a panel entitled, “The Dos and Don’ts of Reporting, News and Feature Writing.” Photos of other presenters below, click photos to enlarge.


The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s student run news publication, Ke Kalahea, sponsored a media symposium and political forum on Saturday showcasing  various professionals in the field of communication and several local politicians.

“It was a way to get media outlets and information to students,” says Britni Schock, editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

Benefits of attending the symposium were immediately apparent for students like Schock, who found an internship opportunity at the event.

A panel of 15 professionals from the community, and six undergraduates from UH Hilo’s different student publication organizations, offered workshops and panels while networking with attendees.

Presenters included:

  • Michael Shapiro, editor of the award-winning in-flight magazine Hana Hou!, Chad Blair, reporter at Civil Beat, and Katie Young-Yamanaka, freelance writer, on a panel about reporting and feature writing.
  • Don Wallace, author and writer for The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine and The Wall Street Journal among others, gave a presentation on “The Big Story: How to Find, Build, Report, and Illustrate It.”
  • A panel with public relations specialists Amy Hennessey, Ashley Kierkiewicz, Barbara Hastings and Julie Ziemelis.
  • Jeffrey Portnoy, chair of litigation at Cades Schutte in Honolulu
  • Brent Norris on building websites.
  • Mindy Pennybacker on reporting and writing feature stories.
  • Damien Barrios on photography in the age of smart phones.
  • Denise Laitinen on management.
  • Karen Stanton on threats to journalists.
  • Julie Ziemelis, founder of Ziemelis Communications and co-creator of the Big Island Chocolate Festival.
Sadie Dosset-Tiffany Edwards-Hunt, Britni Schock
(L-R) Sadie Dosset, Tiffany Edwards-Hunt, and Britni Schock.

Ke Kalahea advisor Tiffany Edwards-Hunt says, “Interacting with all of (these professionals) is helping the students see the power of networking and also, with an event like this, any of the students who were a part of the planning, they can put this on their resume. This is real life experience.”

Students, professionals and community members were able to exchange ideas and attend different workshops on subjects like reputation management, first amendment rights, building a website, public relations, and photography.

UH Hilo students working with the on-campus publications also conducted a panel discussion where they talked about the knowledge they gained while attending this semester’s College of Media Association’s national symposium held in New York.

Sponsors show support

Sadie Dossett serves as vice-chair on the UH Hilo Board of Student Publications, which helped sponsor the event. Dossett’s interest in facilitating an event like this stems from her desire to give back to the students, offering them more opportunities to learn about new things that they are passionate about.

“All of the money we get to do these kinds of things is from the students, so we want to be giving back to them,” she says.

Presenter Denise Laitinen with PowerPoint in background.
Denise Laitinen delivers her presentation on management of communication. Click to enlarge.

Denise Laitinen is the president of the Big Island Press Club, which helped sponsor the event as well. Laitinen spoke at different panels throughout the day and gave a presentation on reputation management.

“The Big Island Press Club was happy to support the UH Media Symposium because a key part of the Press Club in general is to support the next generation of journalists,” explains Laitinen. “Symposiums like this provide not just experts from the Big Island but from around the State that give insight to our industry and field.”

Those who sponsored the event hope to continue it in coming semesters and offer more opportunities to students.

Political forum

A political forum also was on the agenda, with candidates from District 1 (Hilo) and District 2 (Puna) answering questions defining their platforms and varying plans of action. One of the candidates was Greggor Ilagan, who at 25 became the youngest person in Hawai‘i County history to be elected to the council.

“The campus is a special place for me,” says Illagan. “I actually was part of student government in Hawai‘i Community College.” He worked with the UH Hilo Student Association and says, “Student government was one of the places that opened my eyes, that you can actually make a difference.”


About the author of this story: Lara Hughes (junior, business administration) is a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor. 

About the photographer: Claudia Hagan (part-time student, marketing and digital photography) is a photographer for the Office of the Chancellor.

-UH Hilo Stories