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Sony World Photography Awards accused of censoring photos featuring Hong Kong protests

Author: Inside Imaging, Published on: 21 February 2020

“World Photography Awards ‘censors’ Hong Kong protests”, 20 February 2020

The prestigious Sony World Photography Awards has reinstated finalists’ photos depicting events from the Hong Kong protests, after being slammed for callow censorship for removing the images due to a complaint regarding their ‘sensitive nature’.

The World Photography Organisation (WPO) went into full damage control mode… when Hong Kong photographer, Ko Chung-ming, discovered the link to his Documentary Category finalist images was broken. He initially thought the website had been ‘attacked’, but became concerned the WPO were censoring Hong Kong photos after finding other shortlisted images of the protests by Australian photographer, Adam Ferguson, and American photographer, David Buton, were also down.

Ko’s series, Wounds of Hong Kong, is a portrait series showing injuries and scars sustained by people participating in the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Despite being ‘temporarily taken down’, the photos remain in the running for a prize…

In a Facebook post, Ko said the WPO responded to him with this statement: ‘A concern was raised about the sensitive nature of some of the images in the series which we must take into consideration. We have temporarily taken down the images as part of a standard process which we have put in place for these type of cases until we are able to review everything in further detail.’

Ko is unsure who is the source of the complaint and what their concern may be. ‘But why should any “concerns” not be addressed by the judges at the judging phase?’ he told Hong Kong Free Press. ‘As long as the final result is up to the jury’s professional judgement, I wouldn’t say there’s censorship.’…

Criticism has been harsh and plentiful on the WPO Facebook page, with hundreds of commenters querying its motivations…

According to a WPO statement, which has been pinned on every recent Facebook post, ‘concerns raised can be anything that is deemed to contradict the competition’s terms and conditions’.

‘We always take these concerns seriously and the images in question will be temporarily unavailable on our site pending the review process. There has been a review which is now complete. There have been no changes to photographers’ positions and titles in this year’s Awards.’…

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Related companies: Sony