Chinese author, columnist and blogger Li Chengpeng has won the Best Blog award at The Bobs - DW's contest for the best in online activism. Other top prizes went to projects from Morocco, Togo and Bangladesh.
Li Chengpeng is among China's most well-known bloggers, authors and social critics. He is extremely popular among young people in the country, with more than seven million followers on the Sina Weibo micro-blogging platform. His blog, Lichengpeng (www.blog.sina.com.cn/lichengpeng), has received more than 300 million visits.
"He not only writes, he also acts: he conducts investigative research and, for example, traveled to an earthquake-prone region to help people," Chinese jury member Hu Yong said. "He is an example to the young generation and shows how to get involved in China's future."
Li has also told young people in China that they need to be aware of censorship in the country and encourages them to participate in an open and free political process, Hu added.
In 2008, Li looked into shoddy building materials used in school buildings that collapsed during an earthquake in the Sichuan province. After publishing his most recent book, "The Whole World Knows," he went on tour but was forbidden by authorities to speak with his fans. To show their solidarity, visitors to the tour wore masks over their faces similar to the one he wore for the "silent readings."
The Bobs' other winners
In the Best Social Activism category, Deutsche Welle's jury members honored the work done to promote democracy and human rights in social media. The Moroccan youth initiative 475 (www.facebook.com/475LeFilm) took the jury's award. It deals with the fate of women who, according to Moroccan law 475, are forcibly married to men who raped them so the rapists do not face criminal charges. The story of Amina, who in 2012 at the age of 16 committed suicide, got the project started in a social media campaign on Facebook and Flickr. "The project shows that every initiative is important when it comes to stopping rape and all forms of violence against women," the jury said.
The jury awarded the Chinese site FreeWeibo (www.freeweibo.com) in the Best Innovation category. The service offers censorship-free access to the micro-blogging platform SinaWeibo.com, one of China's most used social networks. "In China, censorship is completely normal and a daily occurrence," the jury said. "Messages can be deleted without the people who wrote them ever knowing about it. FreeWeibo gives users a way to see the deleted posts and find out what is being censored."
In the Most Creative & Original category, the jury gave its award to Me & My Shadow (www.myshadow.org). Written in English, the project shows people "in an entertaining and visually stimulating way what kinds of personal information they are revealing when they are online and gives simple tips on ways they can change their behavior to protect their privacy," the jury said. Tactical Technology, an international association that shares information on digital issues with human rights groups around the world, produced the project.
This year's Global Media Forum Award went to the project Infoladies (www.pallitathya.org.bd) from Bangladesh. Finalists in the category addressed issues tied to the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum 2013, which looks at "The Future of Growth - Economic Values and the Media." The Infoladies project helps equip women with digital cameras, mobile phones and solar-powered laptops to travel by bike to rural areas and answer questions related to health, agriculture and development. "Infoladies brings life-saving information about health, education and a number of other services to the poorest people in Bangladesh," the jury said.
The Reporters Without Borders Award went to Fabbikouassi’s Blog (www.fabbikouassi.wordpress.com) from Togo. DW awarded the prize in cooperation with the human rights organization Reporters Without Borders. The journalist and human rights activist Fabbi Kouassi reports in her blog about the dangerous situation facing journalists in her country and about the daily police violence that targets journalists. The blog symbolizes "the work being done for freedom of expression in an African country that often gets overlooked," the jury said, adding, "We talk about problems in China and Iran, but can forget Africa, where fear of police brutality and suppression are a part of daily life."
Best English blog
In addition to the jury awards, Internet users from around the world cast around 95,000 votes in an online poll for their favorite finalists in The Bobs. The Best Blog / English award went to Mideast Youth (www.mideastyouth.com), a collection of websites and applications that all amplify voices of dissent in the Middle East. All of the Users' Choice winners can be found at www.thebobs.com.
Cuba's Yoani Sánchez receives prize from 2008
As part of the re:publica online conference in Berlin, Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez was honored for her blog Generación Y, which won the Bobs award in 2008. DW Editor-in-Chief for Regionalized Content Ute Schaeffer presented her with the award. After countless attempts to leave Cuba, the 37-year-old was recently given a visa and her foreign tour stopped in Berlin on May 5.
Award ceremony at the Global Media Forum
Deutsche Welle launched The Bobs – Best of Online Activism in 2004 with the goal of promoting the open exchange of ideas and freedom on expression online in digital media. More than 4,200 websites and online projects from around the world were submitted to this year's contest. The competition was conducted in 14 languages, including Hindi, Turkish and Ukrainian all for the first time. The Bobs also honored micro-blogs in each of the languages for the first time with the Best Person to Follow categories. Submissions to The Bobs reflected the wide spectrum of ways blogs and social media can be used to promote freedom of expression and push for transparency and accountability.
The 15-member jury narrowed down the submissions to 364 finalists. Among the jurors in 2013 were Hu Yong of the People's Republic of China, and Arash Abadpour, who writes one of the world's most-read Farsi blogs. Together with Alena Popova of Russia and Mustafa Nayyem, a leading blogger in Ukraine, they spoke about the media landscape in their countries at a press conference in Berlin on World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
The winners of the six jury prizes will receive their awards on June 18, 2013 as part of the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn. The media conference draws some 2,000 participants from around the world.
This year's premium partners are Reporters Without Borders and the re:publica conference. Media partners are Masrawy, Somewhere in…, Bdnews.com, iSun TV, Global Voices Online, Categorynet.com, Courrier International, Presseeurop, Gooya, Terra, Jetzt.de, Lenta.ru, Korrespondent, ntvmsnbc, MYNET, MEDYATAVA and webdunia.