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Nikkei Asian Review wins 4 top prizes at SOPA awards

Publication recognized for tech scoops, decoupling feature and design

The Nikkei Asian Review's "Hard Water" issue for Sept. 26, 2019, won the 2020 SOPA Award for Excellence in Magazine Design, one of four top prizes received by the publication. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

HONG KONG -- The Nikkei Asian Review won four top prizes at the Society of Publishers in Asia Awards for Editorial Excellence, regarded as a benchmark for world-class journalism.

This is the sixth straight year the Tokyo-based business news platform has been recognized with SOPA prizes. The winners were announced Wednesday.

Of the 17 prize categories, the Nikkei Asian Review -- which publishes online news as well as a weekly print magazine -- won awards for excellence in four and honorable mention in one. This is the most excellence awards the publication has received since its launch.

Nikkei Asian Review staff writers Cheng Ting-Fang and Lauly Li in Taipei won the prize for excellence in the scoop category with their series, "China business connections buckle under U.S. pressure." The package of three stories, written in collaboration with Coco Liu in Hong Kong and Shunsuke Tabeta in Chongqing, was the first to identify several global electronics makers, including Apple and Microsoft, that were looking to shift substantial production capacity out of China.

"This impressive scoop was way ahead of the competition, led the way in identifying a major trend and was on an important subject," the judges said.

The publication also won the scoop award last year. Nikkei's exclusive interview with former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn in January 2019 also won honorable mention in this category. It was reported by Nikkei commentator Atsushi Nakayama, senior staff writer Akito Tanaka and staff writer Yosuke Kurabe. This rare interview took place at a detention house in Tokyo, giving readers Ghosn's story in his own words, before the auto executive fled Japan for Beirut later that year.

In the explanatory reporting category, the package "Decoupling: The U.S.-China Relationship Unraveled" won the prize for excellence. Nikkei Asian Review columnist Yasu Ota contributed U.S.-China tech war big picture, tech reporters Cheng Ting-Fang and Lauly Li in Taipei took a close look at Huawei's secret battle plan to beat U.S. clampdown, and Coco Liu in Hong Kong and Yifan Yu in California added a piece on how Chinese students and U.S. universities became pawns in the trade war. The stories examined the consequences of a schism in the global technology ecosystem that has powered decades of innovation.

"An impressive package of stories on Huawei and the technology wars between the U.S. and China. There is great depth of reporting here, well organized, with excellent graphics to illustrate the stories," the judges said.

This is the second consecutive year that the Nikkei Asian Review was recognized by SOPA for explanatory reporting.

In the arts and culture reporting category, a story package titled "Art amid unrest" won the prize for excellence. The package, by reporters including Michelle Chan, comprised three reports about the Hong Kong protests. The first was about the Lennon Walls, the second about painting and poetry, and last about an anthem of the protests. All three stories highlighted the boundless creativity that emerged during the unrest.

"With powerful pictures, these articles capture well the flourishing of the arts in Hong Kong during the recent protests," the judges said.

The cover package "Hard Water" (Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2019) won the prize for excellence in magazine design.

"Stunning visuals with a clean, engaging layout draw the reader in. An outstanding example of how imaginative design can give an article spice and zing," the judges said.

The issue showed a striking monochrome portrait of two protesters in full gear, setting the tone for a story that took a close-up view of the people on the front line of Hong Kong's protests as they evolved from peaceful demonstrations into more confrontational tactics. The package was created by the Nikkei Asian Review design team, headed by MinJung Kim and Michael Tsang.

SOPA was founded in 1982 to represent international, regional and local media companies around Asia and encourage best practices. The SOPA awards, launched in 1999, are administered by the Journalism and Media Studies Center at the University of Hong Kong. The awards are judged by panels of veteran journalists and academics.

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