The Straits Times' It Changed My Life series wins Best Video at World Digital Media Awards

Executive video journalist Shawn Lee Miller (centre) was at the awards presentation ceremony in Hamburg to receive the prize for Best Use of Online Video. PHOTO: WAN-IFRA

In a first for Singapore, the It Changed My Life video series by The Straits Times won the top prize at the World Digital Media Awards, beating competition from Latin America and Europe such as Britain's The Guardian.

Executive video journalist Shawn Lee Miller, producer of the weekly video series on inspiring stories, was at the awards ceremony in Hamburg to receive the prize for Best Use of Online Video, a category won by the BBC last year. The Straits Times was the only winner from Asia.

"Very strong story and used imagery powerfully to convey the message. Music was integrated well to help tell the story," said Mr Jonathan Halls from Talkshow Media, who was one of the judges.

Organised by Wan-Ifra, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the competition pits the Gold winners from the European, Asian and Latin America Digital Media Awards against each other.

The nominees for Best of Online Video are judged on their narrative qualities and originality of perception and treatment. The possible aesthetic and emotional impact of the videos were also taken into consideration.

The It Changed My Life series features Singaporeans who have overcome the odds to turn their life around. Helmed by senior writer Wong Kim Hoh and directed by Mr Miller, the series began in November 2013 and around 30 videos have been produced so far.

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Isabelle Lim was born deaf with multiple physical challenges but that didn't stop her from pursuing her dreams of photography.

Mr Wong, who conceived the series as he wanted to "reflect hope and humanity", said he was "very chuffed" about the win.

"This win also belongs to all the people who shared their lives and their stories with our readers. People always ask me where I find my subjects each week - I believe if I keep my eyes, ears and mind open, they will come," he added.

The editor of The Straits Times, Mr Warren Fernandez, said: "This award reflects how lives have changed for all of us in ST as we transitioned from being a pure print to a truly multimedia newsroom. The inspirational features by Kim Hoh are a joy to read in print, but being able to see and hear his interviewees on video brings out even more powerfully their struggles and triumphs over adversity.

"This international recognition will inspire all of us in the ST team to strive to do even better."

Among the people profiled are Ms Isabelle Lim, who was born deaf with multiple physical challenges but persisted in her passion for photography, and Mr Henry Leo who as a child, was raised as a servant but never held any ill will towards his adopted family.

SPH Brightcove Video
Henry Leo, 72, is a unique Singaporean. He does not know his real name, date of birth or if he has any kin. During the Japanese Occupation, his home was bombed and his parents killed. Then 4 years old, he was picked up by the Archbishop and later adopted by a Eurasian family. They did not educate him but taught him how to cook and now he is a repository of many lost Eurasian recipes.

"This global award is a wonderful reward for our talented team who have pushed our digital boundaries far further than we imagined possible," said The Straits Times digital editor Eugene Leow. "We've not just shown we can transit from print to multimedia, but that we can be among the best in the world."

Into its second year, other winners of this year's World Digital Media Awards include The Guardian, which won Best News Website, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation which won Best Data Visualisation Project, and Die Welt, which won Best Mobile Service.

Wan-Ifra is the global organisation of the world's press and represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3000 companies in more than 120 countries. The World Digital Media Awards were presented at the World Publishing Expo 2015 and was attended by news agencies around the world.

Click here to watch more videos in the It Changed My Life series.

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