SOPA is a non-profit, regional journalism organisation dedicated to “promoting best industry practices and facilitating a conducive environment for professional publishing” in the Asia-Pacific region. The annual awards were established in 1999 to encourage editorial vitality, raise journalistic standards and support free speech throughout the region.
SOPA presented 79 awards for outstanding journalism this year. 480 works from print, websites and wire services, in both Chinese and English, were judged within 15 categories by 98 judges comprised of journalists, designers and photo editors, as well as academics from media departments of universities. The JMSC was the Awards administrator and Doreen Weisenhaus, Director of the Media Law Project and Associate Professor at the JMSC, was Director of Judges.
Two journalists from the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Olga Wong (MPhil 2005) and Cheung Chi-fat won an Award for Excellence in the Excellence in Reporting on the Environment category for a series of articles about the New Territories.
Yolanda Ma (MJ 2010) was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Excellence in Multimedia News Presentation category for her work on SCMP.com’s CitizenMap.
CitizenMap is a citizen reporting project run by the SCMP which maps the stories happening in Hong Kong and southern China. It aims to offer a collective voice to Hong Kong residents by aggregating local citizen reports, Hong Kong community media and other relevant news and information. Ma heads the project.
“The map – the first by a news media organisation in Hong Kong – allows readers to get a much better sense of the spread of land abuses in the territory,” said Ma. “It shows, surprisingly starkly, just how widespread the problem is. By allowing users to contribute their reports and working together with universities as well as environmental groups, we are helping build a community around the issue.”
Ma was delighted to win the SOPA award.
“I am happy to be possibly the youngest award-winner this year,” she said. “It is a great recognition for this project and for me, especially given that citizen journalism is still in its early stages here in Hong Kong. This award not only goes to the SCMP and me, but also to all those citizens who have participated in CitizenMap – it is a crowd-sourced success. It has motivated me to work even harder towards more sustained public engagement.”
Ng Tze-wei (MJ 2004) and fellow SCMP journalist, Paul Mooney, won an Honorable Mention in the Excellence in Human Rights Reporting category for their article about lawyers in Chongqing. They used the case of a defence lawyer to illustrate the difficulties facing the mainland’s rule of law.
Vivian Kwok (MJ 2006) received an Honorable Mention in the Excellence in Investigative Reporting category for her report about private clubs for the SCMP.
“This year’s entries were exceptionally strong examples of journalism in the region in both Chinese-language and English-language publications,” said Doreen Weisenhaus.
“As Director of Judges, I was able to view first-hand the high-calibre work that exposed everything from corruption and government wrongdoing to the plight of Afghan women and an examination of the rise of the supercities in China.”
“These awards are important to recognise, support and encourage high-quality journalism throughout Asia, especially in light of the seismic changes our industry is currently undergoing,” she continued. “It is particularly satisfying to see what may be a record number of JMSC alumni being recognised by SOPA for their work.”