From Maui Trojan to Honolulu storyteller

Maui writer Steven Tonthat hones craft at Star-Advertiser


Photo by Meaaloha McCabe

Kim Yuen and Steven Tonthat answering questions after their video presentation during journalism day at University of Hawaiʻi.

Everyone has a story to tell, and ever since high school, Steven Tonthat wanted to be the person to help them tell it.

Tonthat is a journalist from Maui who works as an online content producer at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

“I wanted to help people tell their stories, so that’s kind of how I fell into journalism,” he said in an interview at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Journalism Day, Sept. 10.

Tonthat attended high school at Saint Anthony School in Wailuku, and although the school didn’t have a journalism class or program, he knew that he had a passion for  journalism and wanted to pursue a career in the industry.

After graduating in 2005, he attended UH Mānoa and majored in journalism. He was first interested in print journalism but soon took a turn to broadcast journalism. There he learned about editing and shooting videos and began to enjoy it. In fact, he said he enjoys the editing part of his job and will usually have a piece edited and ready to go in 1-2 hours.

He attended UH from 2006-2009, where he double-majored in English and broadcast journalism. He went back for graduate school from 2010-2012 and graduated with a Master of Arts in English Composition and Rhetoric, according to his profile.

Soon after, he began working for the television station KITV. He also has credits with the UH media program, Ka Leo o Hawaiʻi, and The Maui News.

Later, he followed his calling to the Star-Advertiser, where he has been for three years. He works the 4 p.m. to midnight shift and ensures that there is new news every morning.

“News never stops at midnight…news is always 24/7,” he said.

Most of the time, Tonthat posts items that are submitted to him, but he also gets assignments in the field, where he produces content himself. This is one of his favorite parts of the job.

Though Tonthat’s parents remain on Maui at Mauilani, he is not alone in the big city — his brother Andy also lives on Oʻahu.

Thanks to his drive and talent, and a little bit of luck, Maui boy Steven Tonthat now has the special opportunity, that not many have, to work behind the scenes recording history in the making.

Tonthat writes about his life as a journalist on his blog. Read it by clicking here, and read his work at the Star-Advertiser by clicking here.