Coconuts Media wins photography award for feature on inspiring Hong Kong woman with rare skin condition

Coconuts Media won its first ever Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) Award for Editorial Excellence last night!

Coconuts Hong Kong’s Managing Editor & Multimedia Producer Laurel Chor received the Excellence in Feature Photography (Group B) prize for her multimedia feature on Mui Thomas, the Hong Kong woman with harlequin ichthyosis who dreams of becoming an international rugby referee.

Mui during a Hong Kong Rugby Union referee conditioning session at King’s Park on Feb. 4, 2015. Photo: Laurel Chor

The feature, published in October 2015, showcased photographs and video taken by then-Associate Editor Chor of Thomas at rugby referee training, on her daily commute, and chatting with friends.

Thomas is the only known sufferer of harlequin ichthyosis in Hong Kong. The extremely rare disease causes the skin to grow very thick, with deep, painful cracks. The oldest survivor is believed to be Nusrit Shaheen, a 32-year-old British woman.

Thomas rinses her face in a Sai Kung bathroom, May 27, 2015. Photo: Laurel Chor

“The photos capture Mui Thomas’ personality as well as her struggles,” the judges wrote. “They show a story of someone who must overcome daily pain and adversity. The photos force you to look and search to understand more.”

A total of 99 awards in 18 categories, including news, photography, and lifestyle coverage were given out at the annual gala dinner in Wan Chai’s Convention Centre yesterday evening. Over 280 media executives, editors, journalists and industry affiliates were reported to be in attendance. 

“The SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence are recognised as the industry ‘gold standard’, celebrating the very best in journalistic quality and integrity,” SOPA Chairman Raymond Warhola said.

The panel of judges was comprised of more than 100 international judges including journalists, editors, columnists from leading publications, as well as notable academics from media departments of prestigious universities, according to SOPA.

Established in 1982, the Society of Publishers in Asia a nonprofit based in Hong Kong and represents international, regional and local media companies in Hong Kong and around Asia. It also presents the prestigious annual awards to set world-class benchmarks for journalism in Asia.

S.K. Witcher, chair of the SOPA Editorial Awards Committee, remarked that there was a “large increase” in the amount of digital news and information graphics entries this year, which “underscored the growing importance of presenting news for a mobile audience”.

Related articles:

Meet Mui Thomas, a Hong Kong rugby referee with a rare skin condition who hopes to inspire others

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