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Google Asia Pacific Blog - Using technology to tell great stories: the first ever AAJA-Google Digital Journalism Award

Editor's note: This post comes from Angie Lau, President, Asian American Journalists Association-Asia

The core of good journalism has been, and always will be the same: tell a compelling story, and do it accurately and creatively. Technology has not changed this core, but what it has done is open up new ways for journalists to tell stories. To spotlight some of Asia's best digital journalism, the Asian American Journalists Association is proud to announce the winner and honorable mentions of the first ever AAJA-Google Digital Journalism Award.

These stories are as remarkable for their creativity as their technical prowess: they use everything from video, interactive maps, and even Google Glass to present powerful, thought-provoking, and empathetic stories.

Winner: Patrick Boehler, South China Morning Post: "Voices from Tiananmen"-
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In this interactive SCMP feature, Patrick Boehler and his team at the SCMP, ChinaFile, and Hong Kong University's Journalism and Media Studies Centre take the reader on a journey through one of China's uglier pages of its history, spotlighting the voices and issues that remain. This submission is notable for its sheer breadth of perspectives as well as its seamless use of video, interactive maps, graphics, archival recordings, and photos. "Voices from Tiananmen" stands to be a canonical resource testifying to this contentious chapter in recent Chinese history.

Honorable mentions:
Josh Kim: "Google Glass Diaries" -
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This is an ambitious project that uses Google Glass in a rich and surprising way in order to "celebrate the uncelebrated." From a betel nut vendor in Myanmar to a barber in Laos, these first person point of view video vignettes give a remarkably intimate glimpse into these "average" lives — yet the result is anything but average. Josh aims to complete 100 vignettes of people across seven continents.

Cedric Sam, South China Morning Post: "Occupy Lapse" -
Occupy Hong Kong was a seminal moment in Hong Kong's history. But keeping up with the sometimes chaotic protest was hard. Cedric Sam found a wonderfully innovative way to provide a snapshot of the protests in real-time, using tools that are available for free to anyone: archival traffic webcam images available as open data by the Hong Kong government, as well as Google Maps pinpointing the locations of the cameras. Cedric gave us an unfiltered glimpse into what happened during the days from October to December, 2014 when Hong Kong was in the grips of protest.

Congratulations to these award winners, and we hope to see more remarkable examples of outstanding digital journalism in the future.
Posted: 17 May 2015 08:10 PM PDT
Sometimes when you use Google Trends data to settle a debate, it just opens up a whole new mystery.

Just as the noodle's true origins have led to angry debate among the Chinese and Italians, the pavlova's genesis is a constant cause of tension among Aussies and Kiwis. This cream-filled, strawberry-topped meringue dessert was created in honour of the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova on the occasion of her tour through Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. Yet the exact birthplace of this dessert — a mainstay of Down Under cuisine — is as much a matter of national pride as a Wallabies v. All Blacks match.

Google Trends can't settle the debate from a historical perspective, but it can at least help us see which country searches most for the dessert now. And the answer came (drumroll please): Norway. And then…Malaysia. Are you taking the mickey, mate?!
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The data from Norway hinted at one reason as to why the pavlova's popularity pipped those Down Under. When you see spikes like that, it typically has to do with a holiday. And, sure enough, pavlova searches in Norway spike every year in May:
Pavlova last 5 years.png
​Pavlova spikes most dramatically in the week of May 11-17, leading up to Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17. What can explain the seasonal popularity of this dish in northern Europe? Speculation posits that the dessert's colorful use of blueberries and strawberries makes it resemble the red-and-blue Norwegian flag.
Pavlova in Norway.png
But what about Malaysia? Unlike Norway, searches for pavlova in Malaysia are fairly steady all year round, with the highest volume of searches in mid-November last year. Perhaps the love of the dessert Down Under hopped the straits to Malaysia, known also for its sweet treats?
Pavlova in Malaysia.png
For most of the rest of the world, pavlova spikes around Christmas time.

But as for our original question of who wins between Australia and New Zealand: it's New Zealand. The search interest in "pavlova recipes" is much higher in New Zealand too.
Pavlova Recipe - AU v NZ.png
So, while we may not be able to settle who first served Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova the first slice of pavlova almost 100 years ago, we can see that New Zealand has a sweeter tooth than Australia today.

Posted by Shane Treeves, Communications Senior Associate, Google Australia and New Zealand

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