The Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) Tom Wright earned the prestigious 'Journalist of The Year' title, at the annual Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) 2016 Awards for his outstanding contribution to the 1MDB reports
He was presented with the award yesterday night, 15 June, at the annual SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence gala dinner at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Wright, who is WSJ Asia's Economics Editor, was recognised for leading the coverage on the alleged financial scandals linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). The reports were published between July and December last year.
"I've basically worked on this for a year now," he said during the acceptance speech, adding that WSJ had faced threats from the Malaysian government for covering the issue.
"Obviously on this story, we were threatened a lot by the Malaysian government; threatened to be sued. We’ve been told we made up stories, made up sources, (that) our sources may or may not have existed — I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean — and that, basically, we have an agenda, (that) we were a political actor in Malaysia," he added.
In addition to Wright's award, WSJ also won two accolades at SOPA Awards
The business publication is the Group A winner for the Scoop Award, for its report 'Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal’ that started the ball rolling on global investigations into the Malaysian sovereign fund as well as worldwide media coverage of the matter.
WSJ also received honourable mention for the same article in the Excellence in Investigative Reporting Award. The category honouring reports that exposed corruption or abuses and hold the power to account.
Previously the WSJ was a finalist in the International Reporting Category of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize which honours outstanding American journalism, for its 1MDB expose.
Closer to home, two Malaysian publications also received awards at the SOPA
Malaysiakini's use of aerial drone technology to cover Bersih 4 last August, received an honourable mention for its photography. The publication's photographs of the large-scale public demonstration were widely shared on social media.
Meanwhile, it was reported that The Star Online won the Group B Scoop Award for its report title, 'Visa Discord’. The exclusive investigative report details the sudden rising cost of visa fees for foreign workers in Malaysia, and the possible repercussions of the issue including having less legal workers who can afford to pay the fee.
Established in 1999, SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence is devoted to recognising the best practices in professional publishing
The SOPA Awards have consistently secured judges from many of the region’s leading newspapers as well as consumer and trade magazines and academics from prestigious universities – a reflection of the stature of the awards. Judges ensure that entries are analysed and selected according to a demanding set of criteria.
The SOPA Awards set a valuable benchmark for the industry, and have become news items in their own right, generating media coverage and attention not only across the Asia-Pacific region, but also on the global arena.
SOPA is a not-for-profit organisation based in Hong Kong that champions the freedom the press, promote excellence in journalism and endorse the best practices for all local and regional publishing platforms in Asia Pacific. It was founded in 1982.
Last year, PM Najib Razak threatened to sue WSJ for its report alleging that RM2.6 billion of 1MDB's fund was funnelled into the PM's personal bank accounts: