Recap: AAJA-Asia Google Digital Journalism Award Panel

The winner and two honorees of the first AAJA-Asia Google Digital Journalism Award gathered at Google’s Hong Kong office on Sept. 3 to share with AAJA members and journalists some of Asia’ best digital journalism.


Sponsored by Google, the award recognizes the best journalism that features “new ways of storytelling” using any sort of digital technology to tell stories that matter in the region.

“The stories are as remarkable for their creativity as their technical prowess. They use everything from video, interactive maps, and even Google Glass to present powerful, thought-provoking, and empathetic stories,” said Angie Lau, co-president of AAJA-Asia.

Three volunteers from AAJA-Asia formed the judging panel and the remarks can be viewed here.


The award winner, Patrick Boehler, led an interactive project for the South China Morning Post titled Voices from Tiananmen.

He said the challenge to produce the piece was finding ways to tell a story that was not news from an event that happened 25 years ago.

His team used personal anecdotes in which some are the format of audio and looped video to re-tell the story.

Silvio Carrillo of the South China Morning Post who was part of Boehler’s team said they tried to make the story as engrossing as possible and not just stale.

Some of lessons learned from this project:
• Write, cut video for the format
• Don’t make multimedia packages too heavy
• Pull readers in fast, and keep them.
• Social outreach needs planning
• Traditional desk boundaries aren’t made for digital
• Small news organizations can co-operate.

Boehler and Carrillo’s presentation slide can be found here.


Seoul-based Josh Kim, who joined the discussion via Google Hangout, received an honorable mention in his Google Glass Diaries project.

Kim, who is a filmmaker, embarked on his project out of passion. The videos were filmed from the subject’s perspective. Kim asked his interviewees to wear the Google Glass and filmed while the interviewees worked with their hands such as selling a betel nut wrap.

Out of the 24 short videos, his favorite by far is a Thailand-based pastry chef’s motivation for making pastries because of his ill mother.

“It’s the emotion that people feel the story,” Kim said when he defined a good story.


Cedric Sam of the South China Morning Post is also an honoree in this award. His work titled Occupy Lapse, showcases images during the protest captured by archival traffic webcam. He used Google fusion table and Google maps to pinpoint the locations of the camera.

Sam was away from Hong Kong when the protests began and he wanted to find a neutral way to see the scene. He recalled his company archived footages from traffic webcams with the intent to use them one day for typhoon coverage. He then decided to explore the images for his project.

He is a big fan of using Google products for journalism. His presentation can be found here.