SINGAPORE: A stark look at prostitution on the streets of Indonesia, and an inspiring story of a Singaporean woman who set up Rwanda’s first modern poultry farm.
These two accounts, told in video form by Channel NewsAsia’s digital journalists, won silver and bronze respectively for best use of online video, at the Asian Digital Media Awards 2016 jointly presented by global news organisation WAN IFRA and Google.
In Kupukupu Malam: Indonesia’s Night Butterflies, digital correspondent Pichayada Promchertchoo tells a story of a mother and daughter from an impoverished family in Subang, where a large number of women get into the sex trade to support their families.
It also raises questions about the sustainability of the Indonesian government's plan to eradicate prostitution by closing all red-light districts come 2019.
To show the gritty reality of how the sex trade operates, Ms Pichayada filmed sex workers, sex brokers and their clients doing their dodgy business in red-light districts and hotel rooms – often times without their knowledge.
“The key was to be extremely cautious, take time to study the location and people, and plan the shoot as much as possible,” she said.
WATCH: Indonesia’s Night Butterflies
“When I was filming sex workers from inside my car at night, for example, I had to make sure the lights on my camera were covered, the screen was dimmed and the car was parked at the right place with sufficient lighting,” she added.
“I also had to think how much time I had before someone would spot me and alert others. But things don't always go as planned. So I had to think fast to avoid being compromised.”
While winning the award was an honour, Ms Pichayada said: “What's more important is that such recognition will hopefully draw even more attention to the issue of prostitution in Indonesia, and I hope eventually make a difference.”
‘Rwanda’s Madame Poulet from Singapore’ was a completely different kind of story to tell – about a young, idealistic woman who fulfils her dream of doing good for society by starting a commercial chicken farm in the African nation.
With no farming experience whatsoever, she ends up making chicken meat more affordable for Rwandans, many of whom have never tasted it before (as one man says, “In Africa, chicken is something for rich people”).
WATCH: Madame Poulet from Singapore
For Ms Lam Shushan, a producer with the digital features team at CNA Insider, it was a story that was especially close to home because the entrepreneur was her sister, Shumei. Ms Lam wanted to change people’s impressions of Africa, and especially Rwanda, infamous for its 1994 genocide.
“It’s an emerging country with a lot of energy - you can see it in the number of new foreign investors in the country, and especially in its youth who are so hungry to learn,” said the 26-year-old producer. “It’s this part of the Rwandan story that I wanted people to know - it may have had a rather recent violent past, but it’s not that nation anymore.”
It is “also the story of how a city girl is transformed”, said Ms Lam. “By sharing her chickens with children who only get to eat it once a year, to being thankful when electricity comes on - it was instances like these that I hoped would inspire other city folks to be thankful for the little things we take for granted.”
Ms Lam believes “the sky's the limit” for digital storytelling, with new tools such as 360 immersive and live video “challenging the norms of traditional storytelling”.
“This award just marks the beginning of a really exciting era, and it will continue to motivate me to keep telling stories and to keep finding new ways to do so,” she said.
The TODAY newspaper's revamped mobile app, which was launched in September 2015, won a silver in the Best New Product category. Mr Carl Skadian, deputy chief editor of TODAY said the award is "especially gratifying" out of all the international awards it has won this year, as it is a measure of recognition of the paper's efforts to serve its growing digital audience. "It will spur us to do even more to bolster our digital coverage, and find new ways to serve our readers,” he said.