Rappler story on incest rape recognized in SOPA 2018 awards

HONG KONG – Rappler's Southeast Asia correspondent Natashya Gutierrez received Honorable Mention at the prestigious Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) 2018 Awards for Editorial Excellence. 

Her piece "Rape within the family: the Philippines' silent incest problem," was recognized under the Excellence in Reporting on Women's Issues category at SOPA's annual awards dinner at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, on Wednesday, June 13.

The long-form piece, with an accompanying mini documentary edited by Rappler's video specialist Jaene Zaplan, looks at the unspoken issue of incest rape in the Philippines. 

The judge's comment on the piece read, "This story is powerfully moving, exposing a horrifying social problem and providing a sharp analysis of the factors behind it. The narrative of the 3 sisters is very well-written and told with great sensitivity and balance."

Another Rappler piece, "Marawi in 360," which documents the war in virtual reality, was nominated for the Excellence in Journalistic Innovation category.

Other winners from the Philippines included ABS-CBN journalists Jeff Canoy and Jun Sepe, who were recognized for Excellence in Explanatory Reporting and Feature Writing respectively.

SOPA presented 95 awards for outstanding journalism, after it received over 850 entries – a record-high number of applications – submitted by international, regional, and local media.

Now on their 20th year, the awards are widely considered the most prestigious in the Asia Pacific publishing industry and a world-class benchmark of journalistic best practice.

Entries were assessed by a judging panel of more than 100 media professionals, including journalists, editors, and columnists from some of the region's most influential publications, along with academics from a number of Asia's leading journalism schools.

'We did not duck'

Rappler was also highlighted in the gala, through the keynote speech of CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa.

During her speech, Ressa talked about the challenges faced by Rappler on reporting in the Philippines under the current administration. She highlighted "ludicrous" legal cases filed by the government against the news outlet, "meant to intimidate Rappler into silence."

"We at Rappler decided that when we look back at this moment a decade from now, we will have done everything we could: we did not duck, we did not hide," she said.

She also emphasized the challenges brought about by Facebook to journalism.

"Facebook – we know its best and its worst: it enabled Rappler's fast growth and also later became the battleground for online state-sponsored hate to silence critical voices and occupy the public space," she said. 

Ressa said the Facebook problem is widespread globally, and not just happening in the Philippines. She discussed the need for solutions, like education in the long term, media literacy in the medium term, and investigative journalism in the short term.

"So we are actively working with Facebook," she said. "To my friends there and on other social media platforms, please move away from technological colonialism. Look at what is happening in Myanmar, in Sri Lanka... remember that every day you do not act in the global south means people die."

Facebook was a sponsor of the SOPA event.

Ressa ended her speech calling for support for Rappler.

"When power, money, and fear come together, it means good journalism is bad business. After [Rappler hit] positive EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) two years ago, the government attacks brought Rappler to an existential moment, but we are determined to survive," she said.

"So please, help slingshot us through the valley of death, and join our crowdfunding drive." – Rappler.com