A photography report and two reporting projects supported by the Pulitzer Center's Rainforest Journalism Fund (RJF) received honorable mentions at the SOPA (Society of Publishers in Asia) 2023 Awards.
“Congratulations to all the award winners and to those who received honorable mentions; your work represents the best of the best in journalism in our region. We at SOPA are proud to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the awards with such outstanding reporting across all platforms,” Madeleine Lim, senior executive editor at Bloomberg News and chair of the SOPA Editorial Committee, said in the announcement.
The finalists who received the honorable mentions include:
When the Forests Fall Silent, Excellence in Reporting on the Environment, Regional/Local category, the Southeast Asia Globe and The Straits Times: Southeast Asia RJF Advisory Committee Member Audrey Tan and RJF grantee Mark Cheong collaborated with Rainforest Investigations Network (RIN) Fellow Anton L. Delgado to investigate how the global wildlife trade and consumption affect public health and the rainforests. Although the COVID-19 pandemic likely spawned from a wildlife market, the poaching and trade of rainforest animals for meat, exotic pets, and other industries still continue. Through the Pulitzer Center’s annual contest, one of Tan’s stories inspired a Local Letter for Global Change from a third-grader in India on the importance of wildlife preservation.
Limbung Pangan di Merauke (Hungry People at Merauke Food Estate), Excellence in Bahasa Indonesia News Reporting (Penghargaan Karya Jurnalistik Kategori Bahasa Indonesia), Kompas: The project reveals how a national land development scheme designed to improve Indonesian food security has actually worsened food and health vulnerabilities of local communities in Merauke. The scheme also threatens Indigenous culture through “gastrocolonialism,” the project explains. Reporting in both bahasa Indonesia and English, RJF grantees Ahmad Arif, Saiful Rijal Yunus, and Agus Susanto brought these stories to Indonesian and global audiences.
“Shamans' Ritual To Protect Bangka Island's Remaining Forest,” Excellence in Photography in the Regional/Local category, Project Multatuli: RJF grantees Nopri Ismi and Taufik Wijaya show the spiritual significance of Mount Maras on Bangka Island, Indonesia, to traditional Malay communities. Mount Maras is facing deforestation due to plantations and tin mining, which also causes a decline in the role of traditional healers and shamans, who use the forested hills as ritual points. The shamans view their work as a collective effort to maintain the balance between humans and nature. Through photography, the report documents their efforts to protect the forest.
The SOPA Awards annually recognize “outstanding works of journalism over the past year in the Asia Pacific region,” according to its website. This year’s contest received more than 800 entries across 21 categories. The awards ceremony gala was held at the JW Marriott Hong Kong.