The Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) scrapped the 2022 Human Rights Press Awards after defunct outlet Stand News was slated to win a number of prizes. It prompted a board member to step down and eight members of the club’s press freedom committee to resign.

In a statement, the club cited legal risks and “red lines,” whilst Chief Executive Carrie Lam dismissed the row as an “isolated incident.” The ceremony was meant to be held next Tuesday, on May 3 – World Press Freedom Day.

The pro-democracy outlet Stand News halted operations last December after arrests and a police raid. Authorities accused the independent news platform of publishing “seditious materials” with intent to cause hatred towards the government, the judiciary and cause discontent among the public. The trial is ongoing.

On Monday, HKFP published the list of prizes that were set to be awarded to Stand News.

Awards set to be given to the now-defunct Stand News – click to view.

Investigative feature writing:

Winner:

  • Stand News – 2012 Lamma Island ferry collision investigation

Merit:

  • Stand News – “Smart Prison” Experiment
  • Stand News – Video Analysis on Yuen Long 721 incident

Explanatory Feature Writing:

Merit:

  • Stand News – Foodpanda Strike Series Report

Short Video:

Winner:

  • Stand News – If this is the last day of freedom

Multimedia:

Winner:

  • Stand News – The Battle of Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China: 1989-2021

Merit:

  • Stand News – 2021 Dissolution: How are you guys doing?

Documentary:

Winner:

  • Stand News – Sourcing Yuen Long 721 incident

Merit:

  • Stand News – Apple Daily’s Final Chapter: 50 hours before the closure, four employees tell their unfulfilled wishes

In the public interest, HKFP reveals the other winners, showcasing brave reporting from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Thailand, as well as closer to home.

CategoryPrizeWinnerJudges’ comments
Tertiary Student AwardsWinnerRunning district councils (The Young Reporter)The reporter’s rigour and resolve in tackling a sensitive topic in a city with diminishing press freedoms, where so few people are actually willing to speak on these issues in the wake of the National Security Law (NSL.)
WinnerUnder the Taliban’s rule
(U-Beat Magazine)
The Taliban seized Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital on August 15, 2021, taking control of governance once again. Women’s safety and rights under the Taliban’s rule captured the attention of the world. Students were able to contact Afghan women, either in Hong Kong or overseas, to share their own or their families’ experience in a short period of time. The interview with Sitara, who was studying in Hong Kong, was the most memorable. She described, in a first-person account, fearing for her own safety at Taliban checkpoints, experiencing suicide bomb attacks at her own home, and worrying about the backsliding of gender equality, such as not allowing women to be educated. Students were highly praised for using their contacts to describe clearly what was happening in the world, as well as explaining the background.
Merit‘It’s either them or us’: desperate protestors take to Myanmar streets as junta uses arrests, violence to keep power (The Young Reporter) Stood out for quality and comprehensive reporting.
MeritApple Daily spirit lives on (Varsity)Stood out for quality and comprehensive reporting.
MeritIs there fair trial for people with special needs? (U-Beat Magazine)Human rights may not all be dazzling grand events, the report paid attention to “smaller things” that may not have come into view. [The team] were able to see how things develop from small beginnings, and were attentive and knowledgeable. 
MeritDocumentary: Pledging Allegiance (San Po Yan Magazine)Reporters worked hard to follow up with relevant issues, parts of the interviews were handled well.
Documentary WinnerEscape from Afghanistan (SBS Dateline) Excellent on the ground insight into how quickly and the chaotically the situation in Kabul deteriorated, which involved significant personal risk and bravery on behalf of the reporter(s) and production team.
MeritDead on arrival (ABC)Stands out for the originality of the topic and sheds light on a system that causes a huge amount of suffering and needs to be overhauled. Also the reporter’s ability to step back really puts the viewer in the shoes of the subjects.
MeritState of Fear (Al Jazeera)An exceptionally well produced and powerful piece that introduces a new angle by looking at the role Western tech companies have played in facilitating the dictatorship’s actions.
MeritIn Voices Strong: The Last Generation of Citizen (Citizen News)When the social environment is changes rapidly, as documentary filmmakers, it requires keen senses and decisive action to capture the right moment and changes within limited freedoms. This film is a precious record of today’s Hong Kong, and an important record of our time. The editorial team is fearless and invaluable.
Multimedia WinnerMass arrest of Hong Kong’s opposition figures (SCMP)A brilliant and inspired way to show the scale of the changes that have swept Hong Kong’s political system, with great use of interactivity to boost audience engagement.
MeritVisualising the Afghan war (Al Jazeera)Excellent use of data to illustrate the scale of the problems facing the country, with comparison and context helping tell the story for an audience that may not typically be interested or aware .
2019 District Council Member – Interactive Page (Citizen News)These objective data points are graphically presented: the distribution of votes in the district elections, the number of seats held by the democratic camp in the legislature, how the pro-establishment camp became the minority, and the number of people who resigned and were disqualified because of the oath they were required to take. The new “normal” was hence graphically presented. The figures were emotionless, but – after processing with multimedia – they seem to appear sad and absurd.
Short videoWinnerRescue of Parwana (CNN)A heart-breaking piece based on thorough investigation and concerted effort to follow up, with the on the ground production team deserving particular commendation.
MeritPakistani intelligence accused of torture in crackdown on dissent (BBC) Skilful storytelling means it covers a lot of ground and has significant impact for a short piece; also sheds light on an agency (the ISI) that is very rarely held accountable for its actions.
MeritThe Final Chapter of Apple Daily: Cheers resonates through the newsroom  “Believe in Hong Kong’s tomorrow?” (Citizen News)The team captured the important moment of the last night of Apple Daily – interviews included staff members with different levels of experience and roles. Through sharing the feelings of the interviewees towards the state of press freedom in Hong Kong, [the report] expressed the sorrow of the helpless end to an independent newspaper, and created a historical record of the Hong Kong news industry.
MeritHenan Floods’ Report Series (Citizen News)Information was in disarray when the floods in Henan broke out. Information from official sources was incomplete and inaccurate. Citizen News’ China team broke through barriers of information, scoured the web for news, carried out thorough verification, and led readers closer to the truth behind the floods. The team exhibited the possibility of shedding more light than mainstream media while conducting remote reporting.
Photography (Single) WinnerChaos at Kabul Airport (AFP)At great personal risk, the photographer recorded the moment when human rights are threatened by deadly force.
MeritShroud (RFA) This well considered frame is adding dimension to the ongoing story of the fight for freedom of expression.
Photography (Series)WinnerThe Fall of Afghanistan (Los Angeles Times) A hauntingly narrative series that follows the aftermath of U.S. troops withdrawing from Afghanistan.
MeritThe Coup In MyanmarEmotive images documenting the struggle and the human cost of rising against dictatorship.
MeritThailand’s Pro-Democracy Protests 2021Covering the battle lines when people fight for their rights and freedom.
Explanatory Feature WritingWinnerWomen Vanishing (WSJ 1, 2) These two pieces are excellent examples of powerful yet sensitive, comprehensive and balanced reporting under adverse conditions, based on multiple sources including conversations with those responsible for the human rights violations. Rather than editorialising, their impact comes from rigorous work on the ground and helping the people impacted tell their stories.
WinnerDigital Poverty (Ming Pao Weekly)With the pandemic clouding the city, LeaveHomeSafe, remote working, and schooling from home left hundreds of thousands of elderly and impoverished with nowhere to escape. The report vividly revealed the state of technological poverty that people outside the web are trapped in.
MeritOne by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps (The Atlantic)An exceptionally told and haunting work that puts what’s happening in Xinjiang on a human scale, presented in an immersive, compelling way to readers.
MeritOne Year Anniversary of National Security Law Series Report (Ming Pao) The implementation of the national security law has completely changed the face of Hong Kong, and has had a great impact on cross-straits relations. The Ming Pao team has written an annual summary using detailed statistics and a balanced approach – [it] was the only entry that touched upon this important topic, making it valuable.
Breaking News Writing WinnerMyanmar protest crackdowns (Washington Post and Foreign Policy) Breaking news reporting at its best: These pieces combine timely, powerfully and engagingly written accounts of the events in Myanmar in February/March 2021 with expert commentary. All under hugely challenging and dangerous circumstances as events unfolded on the ground.
WinnerSeries Report: The Fall of Apple Daily (Mirror MediaThe report touched on how the closure of Apple Daily symbolised the beginning of the decline of press freedom, and how journalists report news under tightened press freedom – especially on the topic of press freedom itself. [The coverage] showed the reporter’s professionalism, sincere reporting and eloquent writing.
MeritMyanmar in crisis (AFP 1, 2) Strong reporting about the violent events in Myanmar, with reports not just from Yangon but also from the ”peoples defense forces” in Kayah State, with the considerable difficulty and danger that this will have entailed.
MeritNew judicial order under national security law (Citizen NewsThe article looked into the impact the national security law on Hong Kong’s judicial independence. It is a very important topic, especially with regards to how the national security law changed Hong Kong overall. A thorough and in-depth report.
MeritSeries of Death Inquiry of Alex Chow (DB Channel)The reports looked into Alex Chow’s death in detail, and studied the impact of his death on different people and society. The reports also showcased the struggle and sacrifice of humanity, defending human rights and freedom. 
Investigative Feature Writing WinnerThe business of forced assimilation (WSJ 1, 2) A deeply researched pair of articles that delves into and sheds light of an aspect of China’s Xinjiang crackdown that has not so far received much coverage. Tough and dangerous to research, the pieces combine both human colour and broader context, making them great examples of Investigative Feature Writing.
MeritHlaing Tharyar massacre (Frontier Myanmar)

Kinma village burning (Frontier Myanmar)
These pieces tell powerfully of the profound changes sweeping Myanmar, and of the violence and human rights abuses that ordinary people – and the media on the ground  – face there. But kudos goes not just to the writers and editors involved in these specific articles, but to Frontier Myanmar as a whole: for consistently delivering stand-out reporting from Yangon and beyond, under hugely challenging and outright dangerous circumstances, and all without the benefits of the financial, technical and other support that large international news organizations can lean on. 

Note: Graphic images below.

Photography (Single) Winner: Wakil Kohsar (AFP)

A US soldier points his gun at an Afghan man at the Kabul airport on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan’s 20-year war. Thousands of people mobbed the capital’s airport trying to flee the Taliban’s hardline brand of Islamist rule.

Photography (Single) Merit: Galileo Cheng (RFA)

The upper half of Pillar of Shame, a statue commemorating the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, covered in plastic wrap and cloth, was removed from the University of Hong Kong on December 23, 2021 in Hong Kong.

Photography (Series) Winner: Marcus Yam (Los Angeles Times)

Photography (Series) Merit: Lauren DeCicca

Photography (Series) Merit: The Coup In Myanmar

Photographer’s name withheld for safety reasons.

Additional reporting: Almond Li, Lea Mok, Candice Chau, Hillary Leung.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.