World Press Photo Of The Year Winners

At the 2006 World Press Photo Of The Year Contest, there are two winners from China.  The following analysis is provided by the 天方乱谭 blogger, who is a reporter at Southern Metropolis Daily.

[in translation]

I just saw the list of winners at the Dutch competition.  This time, two Chinese photographers received awards, and this is a delightful surprise.

In this competition, the two winners were the direct competitors of Southern Metropolis Daily.  One of them is Zhou Xin of Guangzhou Daily and the other is Yu Haibo of Shenzhen Economic Daily.  This may be make the photojournalists at Southern Metropolis Daily somewhat displeased.  We can analyze the two award winners and speculate the reasons why they won awards.

Based upon looking at all the award-winning photographs, there is no doubt that suddenly breaking events have the most news value and represent the basic functions of photojournalism.  The most touching pictures typically come out this class.  Within this type of work, no Chinese photographer has ever won.  No Chinese photographer has ever won with a negative photograph of a disaster.  I would guess that none of the submitted works from China would fall into this category.

In the two award-winning works this time, Zhou Xin photographed the tsunami aftermath in Thailand (Tsunami victims commemoration ceremony, Thailand).  It was a pleasure to see a Chinese photograph win on an internationally significant disaster.  Yu Haibo photographed Dafen village, which is an old subject (Dafen oil painting village).  The interesting focus of the photograph is the famous western painting, and the black-haired painters did not draw much attention.  But when one looks at it carefully, the surprise element is its most winning point.

These two photographs are both very pretty.  But when I scrutinize these two award-winners, I could not detect China in these two works -- I would not know that these were works from Chinese photographers.  But if this were not a photojournalistic competition, I would not say much.  Unfortunately, the facts are quite the opposite.  It is a tragedy that when the work of a Chinese photographer or a photograph said to reflect China gave no trace of China.

Looking at the award-winners of Chinese photographers at the Dutch competition, they are not like the other award winners in showing the courage to confront the cruel reality.  China is in the middle of a rapid transformation, and is it possible that such scenes do not exist?  Or no photojournalists were present?  Or that there are no top-quality photographers to record these scenes?  There definitely are.  But those scenes cannot show up in the Chinese media.  How many years later will we able to find such photographers from the photographers' films or computer hard drives?  Only then will we know the historical news and the true hardship.

Of course, there is another reasons: Would those fine western judges really like to see those photographs?  If we don't see China in those award-winners, could it be that the judges do not know or do not want to know the truth about China?  If China has a truly open media environment and a photography contest in which newsworthiness is the paramount principle, the Southern Metropolis Daily should be one of the top contestants.