SOPA 2017 Journalism Awards attracts record number of entries

THE Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA), a Hong Kong-based non-profit organisation, says it has received more than 750 entries in English and Chinese for the SOPA 2017 Awards for editorial excellence, a record number for the third consecutive year.

It also announced that the keynote speaker at the SOPA Awards Gala Dinner would be Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, who would be speaking to the gathering by video from London. In an exclusive address just two weeks before the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover, Patten will talk about his views on the future of Hong Kong and the current worldwide backlash against globalisation.

The awards, widely considered the most prestigious in the Asia-Pacific publishing industry and a world-class benchmark of journalistic best practice, are now in their 19th year. This year’s awards include two new categories – excellence in journalistic innovation and excellence in video reporting – to better represent the region’s evolving media landscape and growing use of digital tools and short-form videos.

The finalists were announced last month, with the prizes to be given at the SOPA Awards Gala Dinneron June 15 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. “The record number of entries once again shows how media value SOPA as a platform for both large and small publications to showcase their best work,” says S.K. Witcher, deputy Asia editor, The New York Times, and chair of the SOPA Editorial Committee. “I am delighted to see an overall increase in submissions from Chinese-language media outlets, underlining a trend in recent years,” she adds.

There are 17 categories from excellence in business reporting and excellence in feature writing to excellence in photography and journalist of the year.

The judging panel, appointed by the journalism & media studies centre of the University of Hong Kong, which is the Awards administrator for the seventh consecutive year, comprises more than 100 media professionals from some of the region’s most influential publications, along with academics from a number of Asia’s leading journalism schools. The panel is led by Jeffrey Timmermans, associate professor, journalism & media studies centre, the University of Hong Kong.

The SOPA 2017 Awards for Editorial Excellence are supported by Invest Hong Kong (platinum sponsor), Google and Facebook (gold sponsors). Fleishman Hillard, Media OutReach and High Technology Printing Group Ltd provide SOPA with support respectively on public relations, news wire and printing services.

“SOPA’s mission to promote excellence in journalism, along with a strong, vibrant and independent media, dovetails with what Hong Kong stands for,” says Edith Wong, chief marketing officer at Invest Hong Kong in a statement.

“A dynamic media that sheds light on the important social, business and public affairs developments and issues is vital for business. We see that in Hong Kong and this is why so many people want to come and work here,” she adds.

Meanwhile, Irene Jay Liu, Asia-Pacific Lead of Google News Lab, notes: “Journalism is the cornerstone of a well-informed society, and Google is honoured to once again celebrate rigorous reporting and innovative storytelling across Asia through our support of the SOPA Awards.”

Commenting on the awards, George Chen, Facebook’s head of public policy of Hong Kong and Taiwan says: “Facebook is a new kind of platform and we want to do our part to enable people to have meaningful conversations, to be informed and to be connected to each other.

“We are proud to support SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence to celebrate the best players in the media industry. At a time when we see strong desire by the public for quality content, Facebook will continue to work with SOPA to drive news literacy for the public and develop digital media transformation for publishers.”

SOPA was founded in 1982 to champion freedom of the press, promote excellence in journalism and endorse best practices for all local and regional publishing platforms in Asia Pacific. It represents international, regional and local media companies across the region.

SOPA 2017 , Journalism Awards