Alia’s 2021 USA TODAY investigation into school districts’ inability to track students’ attendance during the pandemic garnered a first-place award from the Education Writers Association. More about the award here. Alia’s reporting was supported by a reporting fellowship from the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information. She was also a 2020 reporting fellow with the Institute for Citizens & Scholars.
In 2015, Alia won a second-place award in the Best of the West competition for her contributions to Civil Beat‘s “Living Hawaii” series.
Alia won first place for her beat reporting in the 2013 National Awards for Education Reporting. Click here to learn more.
She also won second place in the same contest for her “Learning Hilo” series. Read more about the prize here.The following excerpts are from the judges’ comments on the stories:
With beautifully written prose, Alia Wong captures what life is like in Hilo schools serving some of Hawaii’s poorest children. Her series provides vivid detail of the innovations being used in each of the schools profiled and helps the reader understand why the measures of success at these schools might be different than elsewhere. The series provides good look at how charter schools can be effective when traditional ones fail.
Alia Wong demonstrates a dexterous ability to get beyond the surface of education stories, and in this collection gives readers a sample of her ability to report with fairness and respect the differing voices she includes. The Pidgin story, especially, delivers nuance and food for thought on an issue that so often produces only knee-jerk reactions. The piece on consultants and millions in education reform contracts and the piece on conditions in the state’s largest high school are examples of watchdog journalism that must be encouraged at every turn.
Alia Wong works to hold state and schools officials accountable for their actions, a key focus of journalism today. From how schools treat concussions in their athletes to whether the state should be funding private schools or spending millions to promote itself, Alia presents the facts in an easy-to-read style. She’s skilled at putting things into context and answering that key question: Why should I care? Entry demonstrates good breadth of reporting.
Alia’s “A Lost Child of Kalaupapa” won first place for online feature writing in the Hawaii Society of Professional Journalists’ 2011 Excellence in Journalism contest. Click here to learn more.