ST journalists bag top awards for Hainan and maid features - Jun 05, 2008 (ST)

BackJun 05, 2008

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

ST journalists bag top awards for Hainan and maid features

Judges cite superb analysis and excellence on the ground reporting.

By Lim Wei Chean
Jun 05, 2008
The Straits Times

STRAITS Times journalists Sim Chi Yin and Theresa Tan bagged top international media awards last night for feature stories they wrote last year.

China correspondent Sim won for her detailed, heart-rending account of Indonesian women who leave home repeatedly to work as maids in unfamiliar countries.

Singapore-based correspondent Tan's winning work was about the gender gap and preference for baby boys on China's Hainan island, and the tragedy of baby girls aborted or abandoned at birth.

They were among those honoured at the annual Society of Publishers in Asia (Sopa) Awards held in Hong Kong's JW Marriott Hotel, where over 90 prizes were handed out.

Straits Times journalists also picked up two runner-up prizes. Artist Prudencio Dengcoy Miel, 44, won for his editorial cartoons, and a team of writers behind a set of reports on climate change picked up a special mention for reporting on the environment.

Handing Ms Sim the award for Excellence in Special Issue or Special Section Reporting, the judges praised her 'superb analysis of a serious social issue, with vivid, persistent reporting'.

Her special report won two other awards earlier this year - a bronze at the Asia Media Awards in April, and the Feature of the Year prize in the annual awards for English and Malay newspapers published by Singapore Press Holdings.

The 29-year-old photojournalist travelled to Indonesia during her vacations over two years to research the subject, interviewing women and their families, and shooting the pictures.

The judges liked Ms Tan's Hainan story for its 'excellent on-the-ground reporting' and the 'excellent supporting photos' by ST executive photographer Wang Hui Fen.

'I came back very glad to have been born female in Singapore,' said Ms Tan, 30, of her eye-opening visit to Hainan.

The report drew a strong response from Hainanese Singaporeans who raised funds for a poor couple she wrote about, who took in and raised several abandoned girls as their own.

The story tied with one by The Standard newspaper of Hong Kong for Excellence in Feature Writing.

This is the fifth year running that The Straits Times has won awards at Sopa. Other winners last night included several publications in Hong Kong, as well as regional publications like The International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, and Time magazine.

Straits Times editor Han Fook Kwang was pleased that the newspaper's efforts to deliver quality journalism were gaining international recognition.

'It's especially satisfying because our wins this year were examples of good enterprise journalism, where we give more time to our journalists to go deeper into issues that are relevant to our readers,' he said.

'We started an enterprise desk this year to do more of these stories, and we couldn't have asked for a better award-winning start.'

One other winner from the Singapore Press Holdings stable was Her World magazine, which picked up the award for Excellence in Magazine Design.

The panel of judges, comprising senior journalists and academics, sifted through a record 629 entries to pick 96 winners in 17 categories.