Calling all writers! SOPA 2021 Journalism Awards is now open for entries

Published January 25, 2021, 9:12 AM

by John Legaspi

Submission deadline is on Feb. 25

As the English poet Matthew Arnold said, “Journalism is literature in a hurry.” With today’s fast-paced, digital living, the stress on the word hurry couldn’t be greater. As we are now at the peak of 24/7 news and information, what our world needs these days is the sense of quick literature that comes from a 30– to 1,000–word article. While the role of a journalist has evolved throughout the years, their job of opening the readers’ minds and giving them nothing but the truth remains the same. 

That’s what the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) wants to celebrate with its annual awards ceremony dedicated to pursuing excellence in journalism. The Hong Kong-based not-profit organization is now open for entries and has initiated a new award category, the SOPA Award for Young Journalist, which seeks to honor a new generation of reporters who face increasing challenges at a time of economic pressures.

“The SOPA Awards honor best publishing practices and the diversity and breadth of reporting in our region. At a time of significant change to the industry, the awards aim to support and reward journalists and publishers in their efforts to find new ways of story-telling and to continue to inform the public on important developments, particularly in these times of unprecedented economic challenges,” said Madeleine Lim, senior executive editor asia at Bloomberg News and chair of the SOPA Editorial Committee. “Against that backdrop, we are delighted to introduce a new award category, the SOPA Young Journalist Award, to encourage and support the next generation of journalists.”

Since 1999, the SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence are the annual flagship awards for the media industry in the region, serving as a regional benchmark for quality, professional journalism. In 2020, SOPA presented 91 awards for outstanding journalism at its annual ceremony, which was held virtually for the first time. It received over 750 entries across 17 wide ranging categories.

For the SOPA 2021 Awards, media will compete in 18 categories:

  • Excellence in Reporting on Women’s Issues
  • Excellence in Journalistic Innovation
  • Excellence in Video Reporting
  • Excellence in Human Rights Reporting
  • Excellence in Feature Writing
  • Excellence in Magazine Design
  • Excellence in Arts and Culture Reporting
  • Excellence in Explanatory Reporting
  • Excellence in Business Reporting
  • Excellence in Information Graphics
  • Excellence in Reporting Breaking News
  • Excellence in Opinion Writing
  • Excellence in Reporting on the Environment
  • Excellence in Photography
  • The Scoop Award
  • Excellence in Investigative Reporting
  • SOPA Award for Public Service Journalism
  • SOPA Award for Young Journalist.

The judging panel comprises industry professionals from the region’s most influential media organizations, leading journalism schools, and past award winners. For the past decade, the SOPA Awards have been administered by the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, now known as HKU Journalism.

SOPA encourages entries from both large and small media publications with entries classified by the breadth of coverage (global or regional/local) and language (English or Chinese).

Entries must have a substantial emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region and reflect significant journalistic efforts conducted in the Asia-Pacific region. For the purposes of the Awards, the Asia-Pacific region is defined to include the region of Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics in addition to the Indian subcontinent, North Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands. Iraq, Iran, and the Middle East are not included in this definition.

In line with its mission to support editorial excellence, The Google News Initiative will once again subsidize first-time/new entrants. Each media organization can submit a maximum of five entries, paying HKD$200 ($25) per entry. Subsidies are limited, and entrants are encouraged to apply early.

In addition, SOPA is offering a 40 percent discount on the 2021 SOPA membership fee, which is applicable for up to five award entries.

The deadline for submissions is at 3 p.m. Hong Kong time (same as Manila time) on Thursday, Feb. 25.

Submissions, eligibility details,  and application information can be found at The finalists will be announced in May 2021, and the winners in June 2021.