SOPA Announces 2007 Editorial Excellence Award Winners

Hong Kong (May 23, 2007) – The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) announced today the winners of its 2006 awards for Editorial Excellence. Winners were selected for 17 categories for English language media and Chinese language media. In its ninth year, the SOPA Editorial awards received a record high of 508 entries from leading publications across the region. The 93 judges comprised respected journalists, editors and academics from top national and regional media and top universities based in Asia.

“The bar of editorial excellence continues be pushed to new heights and the winners should feel proud of their outstanding achievement and contributions in the field of journalism,” said Alan Lammin, SOPA Chairperson.

“The continuous increase in the overall number of submissions for SOPA Awards is accompanied by a general consensus of the subcommittee and the judges that the quality of the entries is remarkably high this year,” said SOPA Director of Judges David Plott, from the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre.

The 2007 SOPA Award Winners are :

1. Excellence in Explanatory Reporting

Group C

Award: 金融時報中文網FT (我怎麼能算中產)
Honorable Mention: 中國新聞週刊 (都市中心的民主麻煩)

FT The entries demonstrated the uniqueness of web media in exploring a controversial issue. Journalists could reach a wider spectrum of readers and draw reaction and interaction among readers and writers over a period of time. The fruitful result is now in the exhibit.

Group B

Award: China Economic Review (Mother of Invention)
Honorable Mention: Far Eastern Economic Review (Thailand’s Rocky Road to Peace)

China Economic Review: Excellent survey of China’s innovation potential, which is perhaps the most important angle on China’s economic future. A stellar example of regional economic analysis.

Group A

Award: International Herald Tribune (Crisis on the Yellow River)
Honorable Mention Wall Street Journal Asia (China’s Naked Capitalism)

International Herald Tribune: An exhilarating fresh approach on a subject much written about- China’s economic perils and gains, using the Yellow River as a powerful symbol.

2. Excellence in Feature Writing

Group C

Award: 今周刊(老丹的英文課)
Honorable Mention: 亞洲週刊 (中國四萬民工賭命以色列)

今周刊: A touching story: cycling for 120km to teach English is a good angle for the feature. The article has illustrated the passion of a young foreigner in Taiwan.

Group B

Award: The Straits Times (The Hospice Care)
Honorable Mention: DestinAsian (Pondering Pondy)

The Straits Times: A deeply moving, unflinching up-close look at people facing the end of life and those who help them. Manages to capture the poignancy of the situation without being sentimental.

Group A

Award: Wall Street Journal Asia (China’s Naked Capitalism)
Honorable Mention: The Financial Times (The Return of Japan)

Wall Street Journal Asia: Rich in detail, easy to read report on the many-faceted impact of rapid growth. Highest standard of writing and reportage. The winners have every reason to feel they have done a great job.

3. Excellence in Human Rights Reporting

Group C

Award: 明報周刊 (我們的農民工)
Honorable Mention: 亞洲週刊 (中國維權新浪潮,中產階級新博奕)

明報周刊: A heart-breaking account of the peasant workers’ plight. A poignant in-depth look at a marginal population. Broad coverage yet focused. Style of writing is illustrative and encompassing. Outstanding illustrations by the photographers with very powerful graphics.

Group B

Award: The Standard (A Killing Season)
Honorable Mention: The New Paper (200 Maids in Little Shophouse of Horrors)

The Standard: A remarkably balanced report of social and political breakdown in the rural Philippines, with reporting and access that could only come from deep knowledge and many years of exposure to the country with all its complexities and ambiguities.

Group A

Award: BusinessWeek (Secrets, Lies and Sweatshops)
Honorable Mention: Wall Street Journal Asia (Speaking Out in China)

BusinessWeek: Ground breaking and intellectually honest to a fault. The reporting was dogged, thorough and convincing, the writing clear and un-hyped. Multi-layered, well researched with strong anecdotes. The piece leaned over backwards to be fair — not only were those criticized offered opportunity to comment, but they were quoted at length. Most importantly, broke ground on a tough-to-report area. China is one of the most difficult areas to report in, and the reporters got details that made changes for the better.

4. Excellence in Special Issue/ Special Section

Group C

Award: Cheers (悶世代)
Honorable Mention: 天下雜誌 (競爭實力 台灣百萬大學生如何由人力變人才)

Cheers: An insightful special issue, well written and packed with real people, exploring the challenges confronting Taiwan university students in the age of globalization. The Special also applied outbound search, to Denmark, Sweden, Mainland China to learn their successful experience.

Group B

Award: Far Eastern Economic Review (Book Review Series)
Honorable Mention: South China Morning Post (Good Schools Guide)

Comment: Very strong package of insightful reviews, providing thoughtful commentary on issues of concern in Asia.

Group A

Award: TIME Asia (Coming Clean)
Honorable Mention: TIME Asia (60 Years of Asian Heroes)

TIME Asia: An exemplary job of chronicling Asia’s abysmal environmental degradation. Top notch reporting in a variety of countries and clear, unemotional writing that conveyed the breadth of the disaster facing the continent. A compelling report on the impact of continuing poverty and deprivation.

5. Excellence in Feature Photography

Group C

Award: 明報周刊 (我們的農民工)
Honorable Mention: 台灣蘋果日報 (天下圍攻系列)

明報周刊: A fresh take on a well-told story, using very simple yet powerful images through intimate close-ups of workers at the bottom-rung of the society.

Group B

Award: The Standard (Life in a Cage)
Honorable Mention: Off the Edge (Ronggeng Revolusioner)

The Standard: Reminds us once again of the medium’s potential for shock and emotional impact.

Group A

Award: TIME Asia (Between Curtain and Crescent)
Honorable Mention: Fortune (Next Stop, Lhasa)

TIME Asia: Visually convincing imagery, illustrating pretty much the same theme, “Islam.” Strong set of pictures, sensitive and skillful- photojournalism at its best.

6. Excellence in News Photography

Group C

Award: 台灣蘋果日報 (救難突氣爆,七個真英雄)
Honorable Mention: 明報月刊 (為上訪者鳴冤)

台灣蘋果日報: “On-the-spot” sensation from looking at the pictures. Emotions and facial expressions of the characters are well-illustrated. Good arrangements of the photos with intensity.

Group B

Award: South China Morning Post (Time’s Up for the Clock Tower)
Honorable Mention: The Sunday Times (Farewell to Rajaratnam)

South China Morning Post: Compelling news image. Each person’s reaction to the situation is unique and exposed in some way through the facial or body signals which beg the viewers to further examine the image.

7. Excellence in Editorial Cartooning

Group C

Award: 蘋果日報 (時薪$8.3可恥待遇)
Honorable Mention: 台灣蘋果日報 (藍支持取代扁 呂爆遭監)

蘋果日報: Sarcastic contrast, deep sadness under happy image.

Group B

Awards: The Straits Times (Taiwan Politics All About Identity)
Honorable Mention: South China Morning Post (Taxing Times)

The Straits Times: The illustration imaginatively conveyed the essence of the accompanying article about the dilemma facing those Taiwanese who do not feel a shared destiny with the mainland. It captures the “soul” of China-Taiwan issue. The cartoon shows very clever thinking.

8. Excellence in Newspaper Design

Group C

Award: 台灣蘋果日報
Honorable Mention: 蘋果日報

台灣蘋果日報: The mix of photos, graphics and text presents a sharp impact on the readers. Eye-catching combinations of headlines, pictures, and graphics. The design of the front pages is creative, especially the coverage on Shih Ming-teh. The layout of the design displays strongly the key messages of the news stories. Strong use of the advantages of Chinese language to communicate visual and textual meaning. Even though some of the news was sensational and frankly quite sad (the drowned man in the flood), there was no question that, in the beach rescue story really did make the reader follow the flow of the page as they explained it.

Group B

Award: Sunday Morning Post
Honorable Mention: South China Morning Post

Sunday Morning Post: Classy design. The whole layout is clear structured, keeps good balance as well with the position of the pictures. Decent font usage, readers friendly. Very good quality of pictures.

9. Excellence in Magazine Design

Group C

Award: 生活
Honorable Mention: 號外

生活: Package design is excellent. It gives readers a surprised feeling, not only a magazine but a gift instead. There is a concept behind the design: it experiments with paper texture, cutting holes into the cover, etc. The July 1 2006 issue cover features a lonely tree, with lots of blank space that allows your imagination to roam.

Group B

Award: Designer
Honorable Mention: Prestige HK

Designer: Clearly a master of its craft, Designer has a disciplined approach to creating a magazine that breathes with its flawless interplay of colors, vivacious images and provocative cover art, all without sacrificing readability. Each issue is fresh and never contrived. As magazines go, Designer is a rare medium, well done!

Group A

Award: TIME Asia
Honorable Mention: Financial Times

TIME Asia: The kind of consistently crisp and easy-to-navigate layouts we’ve come to expect from Time. The packages Best of Asia, Coming Clean and 60 Years of Asian Heroes are propelled by striking spreads and excellent integration of graphics, photos and text. A roster of design techniques informs and integrates the work.

10. Excellence in Magazine Front Cover Design

Group C

Award: 明報周刊 (留住這風光)
Honorable Mention: 亞洲週刊 (以色列中國民工賭命)

明報周刊: A strong and striking cover that captured in one simple image the feeling of a district left over from another time, fully integrating the story’s themes into its design. The MPW font done in the same style as the paint on the iron sliding gate is a great way of extending the central idea of the story to the entire cover, and serves as a metaphor for the past and future of the fruit market. The design made very strong use of the unique pictorial nature of the Chinese language, creating visual-linguistic messages that are completely impossible to duplicate in English (or most other languages).

Group B

Award: Ish
Honorable Mention: Revolution

Ish: A mixture of classic and modern design. Good composition and colour combination. Impressive layout with a great mixture of aged and modern elements.

Group A

Award: Financial Times (Japan is Back)
Honorable Mention: TIME Asia (China’s Rural Rage)

Financial Times: Striking simplicity of image and text nail this cover. Very clever use of standard imagery imaginatively presented.

11. Excellence in Business Reporting

Group C

Award: 香港經濟日報 (香港醒醒: 表面風光,內裡陰乾)
Honorable Mention: 天下雜誌 (台商瞄準13億市場 蜂湧西進卡位苦戰)

香港經濟日報: Simple and lively analysis of the topic from various angles. Sophisticated topic presented in a reader-friendly manner. Comprehensive background information enables readers to grasp the central theme of the series easily.

Group B

Award: The Standard (Dragonair Buyout)
Honorable Mention: South China Morning Post (Mesa Resort Masu)

The Standard: A strong scoop with solid follow-up reporting. After scoring a scoop on an industry-changing development and reporting a complex transaction yet to be finalized with near-accurate precision, The Standard remained on top of its game by covering the impact of the deal from all angles, using authoritative sources, and delving into the history of the players. The result is a series of reports that is not only expertly informed, but also gives life to a business transaction.

Group A

Award: BusinessWeek (Secrets, Lies and Sweatshops)
Honorable Mention: Forbes Asia (Businessmen of the Year: The Fung Brothers)

BusinessWeek: Nicely done job blending vivid personality profile with the story of an important but under-covered global business trend.

12. Excellence in Reporting on the Environment

Group C

Award: 天下雜誌 (鎘米問題追蹤 毒水橫流 病土蔓延)
Honorable Mention: 明報周刊 (堆填紀事)

天下雜誌: Excellent reporting- an exposure of government and factions’ irresponsibility exposing toxic threats to our everyday meal.

Group B

Award: South China Morning Post (Sick in the City)
Honorable Mention: The Standard (Environment Hanging in Balance)

South China Morning Post: A well-organized piece that brings clarity to a complex topic. Comprehensive analysis of the air pollution problem in Hong Kong with good use of statistics.

Group A

Award: International Herald Tribune (China and Global Warming Series)
Honorable Mention: Wall Street Journal Asia (China’s Environment: The Price of Growth)

International Herald Tribune: Excellent reporting and Bradsher did a great job ferreting out the truth about how carbon trading works in China, and the damage done by China’s over-investment in cheap polluting coal-fired power plants.

13. Excellence in Opinion Writing

Group C

Award: 亞洲週刊 (揭開學術腐敗, 防止動搖國本)
Honorable Mention: 明報 (程翔系列)

亞洲週刊: A powerful indictment of the darker side of Chinese academia.

Group B

Award: The Sun (Surin’s Opinion Series)
Honorable Mention: Far Eastern Economic Review (The Singapore Series)

The Sun: Brave opinion writer. Jacqueline Ann Surin’s essays examine the cracks in Malaysia’s facade of moderation. Clearly, non- Muslims, ethnic minorities and women are facing new challenges to their liberties. Ms. Surin examines them in unstinting fashion, from a perspective that is quite personal and therefore very powerful.

Group A

Award: Financial Times (The myths of China’s miracle)
Honorable Mention: TIME Asia (Blind Justice)

Financial Times: Deep and insightful subject knowledge combined with solid argument and sharp writing. Very well-reported, and takes a hard look at the global myths that surround China’s economic growth. The only criticism is that the article on delaying democracy in Hong Kong doesn’t really fit in with the others and doesn’t add value to the package. Overall very promising writings, both in terms of topics covered, as well as writing style. His articles have rightly provoked a response, and that itself is the best indicator of the success of an opinion writer.

14. Excellence in Public Service Journalism

Group C

Award: 天下雜誌 (珍視台灣)
Honorable Mention: 明報周刊 (台灣”調景嶺”回憶的代價)

天下雜誌: A classic demonstration that journalists can be of great help for the advancement of society. An in-depth and comprehensive report that spreads the message for a better Taiwan.

Group B

Award: The Sun (Low Cost Palace)
Honorable Mention: The Standard (Environment Hanging in Balance)

The Sun: Fresh, ambitious reporting that made an impact on political cronyism. A tenacious piece of investigative journalism in a country where it can be difficult to do this kind of reporting.

Group A

Award: Newsweek
Honorable Mention: BusinessWeek (Secrets, Lies and Sweatshops)

Newsweek: Outstanding and insightful, close-to-ground reporting.

15. Excellence in Reporting Breaking News

Group C

Award: 商業周刊 (聰明壞事)
Honorable Mention: 今周刊 (明基李焜燿-認錯)

商業周刊: A thorough analytical piece of a commercial fraud case. Well-written and precise, the article presents an in-depth microscopic view on the main character and the news event itself. These forces fit neatly within the broader political and economic undercurrents at play. Detailed explanations given on the process of using SPV, structured bond issuance and hidden third party firm for the acquisition. The graphic illustration on the timeline and relationship was excellent in enabling readers to capture the main points.

Group B

Honorable Mention: The Standard (Dragonair Buyout)

Group A

Award: Newsweek (We Are A Nuclear Power)
Honorable Mention: The Wall Street Journal Asia (Thailand: The Coup)

Newsweek: Newsweek’s cover story on the North Korean nuclear bomb is a masterful example of how to explain a complicated event taking place in an inscrutable corner of the world for a general audience. The news, the context, the opinion and the implications are all laid out in a readable and accessible way, while also providing lots of meaty content.

16. The Scoop Award

Group C

Award: 明報 (青海旅客被系列)
Honorable Mention: 商業周刊 (沙烏地王子)

明報: Exclusive, quite an achievement considering the difficulty in getting the interview. High resonance from both Hong Kong and Mainland China.

Group B

Award: The Standard (Dragonair Buyout)
Honorable Mention: South China Morning Post (China and the Church)

The Standard: A strong business scoop with good historical analysis. The Standard was well ahead of the pack in reporting this eagerly-awaited takeover, one of HK’s biggest of the year. A big scoop that caught the attention of media around the world.

Group A

Award: The Financial Times (The man who scuppered the Deal of the Year)
Honorable Mention: The Financial Times (How Thaksin Sold the Family Silver to Singapore)

Comments: It showed some digging. Delving into China’s links with Hong Kong is difficult at the best of times but it was ground breaking to see the mechanics of what happened in this complex and controversial deal. I like this scoop as it has actual political importance in showing some of the behind the scenes dealing in HK- it was not just a getting break on a story.

17. Local Journalist Awards – English-language

Group C

Award: South China Morning Post (Quinton Chan)
Honorable Mention: The Sunday Times (Ben Nadarajan)

Comments: Great investigative pieces that challenge the government and reflect real digging as well as commitment to the public interest. Quinton Chan’s package displayed great breadth, with a good selection of issues important both to the civic life of HK (e.g. public spending, air quality), and the personal lives of HK residents (e.g. flat size calculations). Mr. Chan also made very effective use of high-quality sources to bring out exclusive and revealing information on these issues.

Local Journalist Award – Chinese-language

Award: Apple Daily (陳沛敏)

Apple Daily: Ms Chan demonstrated high quality of journalism by re-visiting controversial issues from historical perspective. She went to Japan and Burma to cover the stories. Her articles gave readers a comprehensive review of the historical event – its past and present. Her vigorous efforts to search for proper interviewees, though a very basic principle of journalism, proved important to a news story. She was able to demonstrate her journalistic skills in delivering stories even though she didn’t have the chance to interview anyone of significance to the historical event.

The winners were recognized at a Gala awards dinner this evening at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Hong Kong, where Mr. Li Datong delivered the keynote address. The dinner was sponsored by Invest HK (Title sponsor) and IPSOS (Event sponsor). The event featured keynote speaker Mr. Li Datong. At the gala dinner, SOPA also presented a cheque to The Society for the Relief of Disabled Children, which was located in Sandy Bay, Pokfulam. This was part of SOPA’s annual donation to charity from the proceeds of the organization’s activities. Invest HK’s sponsorship funds would fall into SOPA’s 2007 contribution of which the donation decision would be made by the end of the year.

The 2007 awards were supported by Ifra Asia, International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP), the World Editors Forum (WEF), and the editorial division of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN).

The SOPA Awards were established in 1999 as a tribute to editorial excellence in both traditional and new media and are designed to honour excellence and to encourage editorial vitality throughout the region. This year’s awards cover a broad range of categories reflecting Asia’s vibrant and successful editorial scene.

Photos are available upon request.


The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) was founded in 1982 to promote, maintain and manage both local publishers and local representatives of foreign publishers, with a view to fostering better cooperation and understanding among members.

For more information please contact the SOPA secretariat at Tel: (852) 2572 2100, Fax: (852) 2572 2113 or e-mail: [email protected]