SOPA 2017

SOPA award winner says patience and ethics is key to investigative stories

  • 2017-10-26

Reported by Michael Shum and Kenji Chan Edited by Nicole Kwok Aun Pheap, reporter at The Cambodia Daily and co-winner of the SOPA Award for Excellence in investigative reporting, said doing an investigative story could be dangerous and demanding, but staying patient and ethical is crucial in getting the story done.   Being a journalist in Cambodia, Pheap sees how corrupted the Cambodian government is.   He had once entered a military area with his colleagues in Zsombor, where they found a bunch of luxury-grade timber stocked there. They were discovered by the military and were arrested as well as interrogated.   "The military officials said they would not allow us to leave if we don't reveal our intentions. We disclosed our identities as journalists," said Pheap, "they suddenly became friendly to us."   "They invited us for coffee and offered gasoline, hoping that we will not write anything about the luxury wood stocked in the military base," he added.   "The military commander found us a driver to a guest house, but we left the city right after the driver drove away, for we are afraid of the commander changing his mind. After that, we put everything into the article." said Pheap.   He also received a direct request from a government official before, asking him not to publish an negative coverage on government officials. But instead of giving in, he reported the situation to his chief-editor. The Daily decided to disclose that whole conversation between him and the government official to the public.   "I always got hung up on after revealing that I am a journalist," Pheap added. "Government officials will call and scold us with very bad words."   "However, I usually try to stay friendly. I want them to answer my questions," he said.   …

Dark sides of Taiwan's pelagic industry uncovered

  • 2017-10-26

  A report revealing the abuse of migrant fishermen and the dark sides of the country's pelagic industry won 2017 Excellence in Investigative Reporting and in Human Rights Reporting of SOPA Award. Cheng Han Wen, a journalist from the Taiwanese non-profit newsagent The Reporter, said their work drove the government to look into the working condition of migrant crewmen, during her speech on the HKBU-SOPA Award Winners Forum in Hong Kong Baptist University yesterday. They traced back the death of Supriyanto, a Indonesian father-of-two, who came to Taiwan alone to support his family but lost his life on a fishing vessel. He was proclaimed "dead of disease". Reading unconvincing official document and proof about his death, Cheng started to investigate the case for the truth about the treatment to migrant fishermen in Taiwan. According to a report of Greenpeace Taiwan, over 1.6 million foreign fishermen work for distant water fisheries in Taiwan with a monthly wage of around US$100 ($780). Given the fierce competition in the domestic fishing industry, lives of labour are perceived cheaper than fish, especially when it comes to foreign fishermen, said Cheng. Cheng elaborated on the recruitment of the fisherman. She said they were mostly recruited by the agents in South-east Asia. Once they arrived the airport, they were brought to a dorm with poor living environment. "They are locked away from people like a criminal, " she said. The agents will arrange fisherman to get on the fishing boat as soon as possible to prevent them from escaping. In most cases, they can only get off two to three years later.   "They are often abused by the captain and treated inhumanely," she said. From getting on board a ship to plying timelessly, what those crew members earned will only be exploited by brokers, agents …

Uncovering invisible slavery: the underbelly of Taiwan's fishery industry

  • 2017-10-26
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Michelle Ng、Ezra Cheung、Alexandra LinEdited by: Choy York Borg Paulus
  • 2017-10-26

"Taiwan is an island, surrounded by ocean, but it seems that most people are not familiar with its fishing industry," Cheng Han-wen, a Taiwanese investigative journalist said. Initially, Cheng and her team wanted to write about the decline in capture fisheries. However, when they were carrying out an interview with a fishery overseer, they discovered the industry's enslavement of young Indonesian fishermen by accident. "The stories about the exploitation of fishermen are rarely covered," added Cheng, "because the Taiwanese media often focus on the epic grandeur of its offshore fishery." The discovery later guided them to an Indonesian village, where eight in ten villagers said they had been to Taiwan, as some of them were proficient in Mandarin. A villager who used to work in Taiwan's fishing industry was mentally traumatised; another "jumped to his death", according to Cheng.   Cheng and her team have won three SOPA awards in 2017 on reporting about the exploitation in the Taiwanese fishing industry . "The ship master has also beaten me up," Cheng quoted from her interview with Supriyanto, a fishery labourer from Central Java, Indonesia and was later found dead in a Taiwanese commercial offshore fishing vessel due to sepsis. Reduced to a bag of bones, his dead body was then sent back to his home in Central Java. Although his story had been covered by several outlets, no one went as deep as The Reporter: An award-winning alternative media composed of ten journalists and three photojournalists, specialising in investigative and in-depth reporting. "If a fisherman and a fish were to drop into the ocean at the same time, no doubt the fish would be rescued first." said Cheng.  Despite receiving international recognition for the story, the young journalist still feels powerless about the issue because the coverage has not brought about immediate change in the society. …

Reporters still hold a crucial position in tech-centric data news production

  • 2017-10-25
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Jade Li、Caroline Kwok、Elly WuEdited by: Daniel Ma、Sean Hsu
  • 2017-10-25

Comparing to computer science students that possess coding knowledge, journalism students still have advantages to enter the data news industry as they are better at making sense of data, said SOPA award winner Ashely Wei. The Caixin Vislab data news designer gave a sharing lecture on basic tools used in data news industry with students of Hong Kong Baptist University on Oct 25 at the SOPA Award Winners Forum. Ms Wei said cooperation between journalists, programmers and art directors is crucial in producing a news piece with data visualisation. "One of the biggest challenges for web designers is they know the technical aspect of presenting data but they don't know how to represent data in a sensible way and that is when journalists come into play," Ms Wei said. Wei also introduced "ready-to-use tools" to help journalists who have no prior knowledge of coding to represent data such as three.js, d3.js and Tableau. "In data journalism, trends and patterns are more important than data itself. People don't want to see details but the trend," said Wei. She divided data journalism into data and building news website. She said the main purpose of data journalism is to keep readers involved in the stories. "Data is broader than information. Journalists not only need to write stories but also need to find proper ways to present them," said Wei.  

"As Simple As Possible" - Developer of CaiXin VisLab Talks About Data Visualization

  • 2017-10-25

The HKBU-SOPA Award Winners Forum with the award-winning journalist- Ashley Wei, reveals the principle of data visualization is making things "As Simple As Possible" and shares the skills of  data visualization.  Ashley Wei, a data visualization designer and developer of CaiXin VisLab since 2015, has been awarded the SOPA Awards for three times since 2015. Wei revealed how to integrate arts and programming methods into projects to explore data news storytelling. "Data journalists should have a basic idea about programming to keep a good relationship with visualization developers and control the whole journalistic project" she said. "Data visualization is all about mapping, and there are two kinds of data- geographic coordinates which can be transferred to screen coordinates and even 3D, and value which can be changed to attribute." Wei said. "The importance of data visualization is showing the trend of the issue." she added. Three architecture ways were raised by Wei for organizing data- long-form (the story is shown in one page), slide show (the story is presenting in PowerPoint); and full screen (the story is shown within one screen), among which slide show is the most powerful presentation on mobile phone. Also, Wei pointed out that Excel is not as technology-lacking as people think. In fact, it's a good tool to visualize data since it can convert data to different types of chart efficiently.   The HKBU-SOPA Award Winners Forum is a 4-day event inviting SOPA-award winners to participate in lectures and discussions on the journalism profession. Students are welcome to join from now to October 27th in designated venue in Hong Kong Baptist University.  

Society

Lifelong suffering of women in India

Women in India suffer from violence throughout their lives, according to a veteran journalist covering the issue for years. The violence starts from infancy, from infanticide and infancy neglect to domestic violence, said Nita Bhalla, the chief correspondent in South Asia at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, in a forum of Hong Kong Baptist University today. Based in New Delhi, Nita Bhalla works as a foreign correspondent for about 20 years and wins an award for her coverage on human rights. Meanwhile, since females are often considered inferior to males, if a family can only support one child for education, the opportunity always goes to the male ones, resulting in deprived opportunities in education, said Bhalla. About half of Indian women get married under the age of 14, according to a government report, and the youngest was only aged 6, said Bhalla. After they get married, sexual abuse within the family, wife-sharing and domestic violence tend to follow, she said. Six out of ten men admitted they have committed domestic violence, including hitting their wives, confiscating their money and devaluing them, according to a United Nations report. At the end of her talk, she says because there are still many positive stories, she can recover from overwhelming frustrations after witnessing disasters. A famous case of brutality to females is the Delhi gang rape, in which a 23-year-old female student was raped by six men in a bus, resulting in her death and worldwide attention. Under social pressure invoked by the protests, four attackers were sentenced to death by the government, while one of them, who was under 18, was charged with a three-year sentence. "The death penalty can't solve the problem as we find in researches," said Bhalla. "Our main focus should on the change in mindset and how we regard …