Honolulu Star-Advertiser former reporter Mary Vorsino won first place in the Best of the West journalism competition’s general reporting category for her Nov. 11 report on problems with the state’s suicide and mental health crisis hotline.
In the story “Crisis hotline hang-up,” Vorsino reported that more than 1,200 calls to the state hotline in one month were “abandoned” after the caller stayed on the phone through an average of 16 rings and listened to a recorded announcement. Hundreds more were disconnected before the caller ever got to the recorded announcement, she reported.
“Would you read a story about a suicide hotline that never answered or hung up on more than 1,000 callers in a month? Yeah, me too,” wrote the category’s judge, Thomas J. Fladung, managing editor of Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Great watchdog work exposes profound bureaucratic bungling.”
The Best of the West contest is open to print and online publications in 14 western states.
Vorsino’s story topped a total of 79 entries in the general reporting category, including second-place winner Hannah Drier of The Associated Press, and third-place winner Will Evans of California Watch.
Vorsino worked for Star-Advertiser since its formation in June 2010 with the merger of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser. Before that she had worked for both newspapers. She left the Star-Advertiser last week to work for the Hawaii Medical Service Association.