SINGAPORE - The Straits Times won two awards for its coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore.
The Stories of A Pandemic (Soap) Awards, organised by the Majurity Trust, recognised contributions by writers, photographers and artists who provided impactful stories related to the pandemic.
The Majurity Trust, which works with donors and charities to build and sustain community spirit in Singapore, announced the awards on Friday (Aug 14) at a virtual zoom webinar.
The awards span three categories - Best Story, Best Commentary and Best Visual - and entries picked were published between February and May this year. Judges comprised veteran journalists and editors in Singapore.
Five journalists from The Straits Times newsroom were among the 44 recipients of the awards, picking up two wins and three merit prizes.
ST editor-at-large and chairman of the Soap Awards judging panel Han Fook Kwang said he was pleased that the winning entries came from a wide range of publications, from mainstream media, non-government organisations, academia and individuals writing on their personal blogs and social media.
"This is an anxious, uncertain time for all of us, but when you read about how others are coping or learn something you did not know about the crisis, it deepens our understanding of what is happening, and that is what we are trying to achieve with these awards," he said.
ST senior correspondent Joyce Lim bagged the Best Story award for the month of April for her report on living conditions of migrant workers confined to a dormitory due to a cluster of infections, while science and environment correspondent Audrey Tan received the merit prize in the same category for the month of February for her report on the work of infectious disease experts in Singapore.
Executive photojournalist Kevin Lim won Best Visual in the month of May for his photographs of migrant workers undergoing swab tests, while senior executive photojournalist Neo Xiaobin was given a merit prize for her story sharing her own experience and that of healthcare workers on the front line.
Senior education correspondent Sandra Davie received the merit prize in the Best Commentary category for her piece on the inequalities affecting children exposed to home-based learning.
Other award recipients were Mr Yusuf Abdol Hamid from Vamos Photography and Mr Yeo Boon Ping from Rice Media, both of whom bagged the Best Story Award for the month of May. Their piece recounted Mr Yusuf's experience as a food delivery rider amid the pandemic.
Artist Josef Lee from Mojo Studio bagged the Best Visual award for the month of February for his work which salutes front-line workers.
The announcement of the award recipients was preceded by a panel discussion moderated by Mr Han where the five panellists discussed the sociopolitical and economic brunt of the pandemic.
Executive chairman of Banyan Tree Ho Kwon Ping shared his perspective on dilemmas, such as the housing of foreign workers.
"If the Government tried to handle the problem properly, tried to build decent flats for them (migrant workers) in the middle of an HDB estate, everybody would vote against them. I think it is a whole-of-society problem and it's too easy to just say, 'Is the 4G leadership up to it?'
"The question we should ask ourselves is are we, as a Singaporean society, willing to make the trade-offs that are necessary if we really want to be a first-world society."
Dr Cherian George, professor of Media Studies at the Hong Kong Baptist University, concluded the panel discussion by raising the importance of open and robust competition towards betterment in politics and governance.
The Soap Awards is set to continue on a monthly basis for a year, with winners receiving $500 in prize money, a Soap memento and a winner's certificate. Two Merit Award certificates will also be presented in each category.
The award bills itself as the first of its kind in Singapore, casting a wide net that cuts across various print, visual and digital media pertaining to Covid-19.
Nominated work must have been published on any media platform accessible to the public. Blog entries and Facebook posts of at least 300 words are eligible.