SCMP reporter wins EU prize

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 December, 2011, 12:00am


South China Morning Post reporter Fiona Tam won first prize for the Asia-Pacific region in the European Commission's annual Lorenzo Natali Journalism Prize competition for her article 'Medicine's wild east'.

The May 17 story exposed hospitals on the mainland that profited from stem cells harvested from induced abortions.

A seven-member grand jury awarded the prize to the Post at a European Commission ceremony in Brussels on Thursday night.

The grand jury, headed by senior journalist Toby Vogel from European Voice, said: ''Medicine's wild east' reveals that many Chinese hospitals are cashing in on the desperation of terminally ill patients, offering unproven and fraudulent treatments based on stem cells and tissues harvested from aborted fetuses.

'The expose has generated intense discussion in China's blogosphere. With the public increasingly sceptical towards such treatments in the wake of this piece, China is now being forced to consider both the implications of its often lax regulatory system and its approach to human rights in general. The article was characterised by the grand jury as a very brave piece and a strong story, with Tam praised for opening so many doors on the subject.'

In 2009, Tam and Post reporter Choi Chi-yuk also received first prize for the Asia-Pacific region in the competition for their article 'Deadly harvest', about the ban on burials in Guangdong and the 'black corpses' market that sprang up. More than 400 villagers were killed and sold to those willing to pay to substitute the bodies for those of their relatives at the crematorium so they could bury their relatives following the ritual they wanted.

This year's grand prize went to Danish television journalist Tom Heinemann for his documentary on microcredit. It challenged the idea of providing credit to the poor - promoted by Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus since the 1970s - as a one-step solution to poverty.

Heinemann travelled to countries and regions such as India, Bangladesh and South America and showed viewers the dark side of microcredit beneath the veneer of success.

The prize, established in 1992 by the European Commission, is awarded to journalists for outstanding reporting on human rights, democracy and development. Natali, an Italian, was a vice-president of the commission who died in 1990.

This year's competition elicited entries from more than 1,300 journalists from all over the world.

Prizes in five regions, a special prize for radio and one for television were awarded in addition to the grand prize.