Report on Pacific Islanders in Utah football wins DFMie

Headline: Pacific Islanders change the face of football in Utah
Outlet: Salt Lake Tribune
Journalist: Aaron Falk and Christopher Kamrani

Sports writers Aaron Falk and Christopher Kamrani of the Salt Lake Tribune won the February DFMie for the Colorado/Utah cluster for a report on Pacific Islanders playing football in Utah.

Editor Nancy Conway explained in her nomination:

The Salt Lake Tribune rolled out a multi-story package on the large contingent of Pacific Islanders from Utah who are practically raised from birth to be football players. It’s a pipeline that began generations ago when the LDS Church sent missionaries to the Pacific Islands, and now Utah has one of the nation’s largest Polynesian populations.

“I don’t think it’s overstating it,” said Vai Sikahema, a member of BYU’s 1984 national championship football team, “to say that the impact Samoans and Tongans have had in the state of Utah is not unlike what Dominicans have been to baseball.”

The package includes lists of Pacific Islanders in the NFL and background stories on the historic connection between the LDS Church and the Islander communities.

Judges praised the thorough reporting:

A perfect way to take data and turn it into a story that explains why it matters to your readers. The rise of Pacific Islanders and their impact on football is a great topic. All of the examples and color made it a good read, perfect for your readers and appealing to a broad audience, not just football fans.

Another judge:

I thought the Polynesian football package from Salt Lake was well done, especially thought the gallery presentation of photos was effective.

A look at Polynesians and people of Polynesian descent in Utah by The Salt Lake Tribune

The other Colorado/Utah finalists were Aimee Heckel of the Daily Camera in Boulder for a NewHive interactive story on a woman’s mission to unclutter her home and the Times-Call in Longmont for its coverage of the local impact of the federal sequester.

Leave a Reply