The young investigative journalism team based in Malaysia has won yet another international award, this time in the “World” category of the inaugural True Story Award, based in Switzerland.
A story by R.AGE journalists Elroi Yee, Shanjeev Reddy, Ian Yee and Lim May Lee, titled “Desperate In Dhaka”, was selected as one of the top three winners in the category. The final placing will be announced at the Reportagen Festival in Bern, Switzerland, this August.
According to its website, the True Story Award is “the first globally-oriented journalism prize”, and it aims to strengthen the work of journalists around the world.
“This makes courageous and innovative reporters all the more important, in all societies and countries. It is for them that the True Story Award was created,” reads the award’s mission statement.
The award comes hot on the heels of three Asian Media Awards and two MDA d Awards in the past month, not to mention a historic second consecutive Peabody Award nomination, taking R.AGE’s total trophy haul to over 30 major accolades in the past three years.
“It’s great that we are bringing the Asian voice to the global stage. This will only spur us on,” said Star Media Group chief content officer Esther Ng, who oversees the R.AGE team.
Ng also highlighted R.AGE’s achievements in using investigative journalism as a tool to advocate for social impact.
The winning piece was the conclusion of R.AGE’s Student/Trafficked project, where the team exposed a human trafficking network operating through bogus colleges and subsequently campaigned to eliminate the practice in Malaysia.
“Our job as journalists is not only to inform and report, but to make a change,” added Ng.
R.AGE was founded in 2005 as the youth section in The Star newspaper.
In late 2015, it was revamped into an investigative documentary platform, targeting an older audience with hard-hitting journalism on social justice issues.
By early 2016, it had won its first international award, the Asian Media Award for “The Curse of Serawan”, an investigation into reports of orang asli children dying within a state park in Perak.
Since then, the team have won award after award, most notably for its Predator In My Phone investigation of child sex predators in Malaysia, which helped push through the Sexual Offences Against Children Act (2017).
It has also branched out into running large-scale corporate social responsibility campaigns, like its #StandTogether National Kindness Week movement with SP Setia, and the Eye On The Ball blind football project with CIMB Foundation.
“The kind of investigative work we do can be very difficult, and my team has had to sacrifice a lot over the years.
“So when we get awards like these, it gives us a bit of affirmation that we’re doing the right thing, that we really are making a difference,” said R.AGE deputy executive editor and producer Ian Yee.
R.AGE now plans to launch a paid membership platform which will allow the public to help fund their projects, using a Google News Initiative grant recently awarded to them.