Meet the Jurors: Jie Zhou on inspiring stories and Chinese participation in the AIPS Sport Media Awards

  • June 22, 2020
Graphics by Nordcap Studio

AIPS Media

LAUSANNE, June 22, 2020 - Deputy Director at Xinhua News Agency, Jie (Jack) Zhou discussed with AIPS about his experience in the quality jury of the AIPS Sport Media Awards, also underlining the excellent impression left by Chinese media last year, especially with many videos ranking high. Zhou also shared some impressions looking towards the future, in a global media environment that faces a need of change either in small or in large realities like Xinhua News Agency.

"As member of the jury at the awards, I can always feel the pulse of my fellow colleagues and better understand different cultures while doing my duties."

What is it like to be a juror of the most prestigious sports journalism award?

To be a juror is an amazing experience. The AIPS Sports Media Awards, the highest international accolade in sports media, recognizes the best sports stories, photos, videos and audios. It is a joyful journey to work with my juror colleagues. We must be very serious and careful to go through the submissions, to find the best from best.

To be juror also gives me a unique opportunity to “talk” with world’s best sports journalists, photographers and camera men through reading, watching and listening their submissions. I can feel the pulse of my fellow colleagues and better understand different cultures while doing my duties.

How inspiring is it to be able to read, watch and listen to the best sports stories from around the world?

In the first edition, we had more than 1,200 submissions from 119 countries. In the second edition, the submissions exceeded 1,700 representing 125 countries and regions. The submissions, either text stories, photos, videos or audios, remained at very high quality, told stories about all possible aspects of sports, and brought hope to life.

The written stories, videos, photos and audios could be an investigative report, an action on a sports arena, a portfolio of an unknown figure or a plain story of a girl’s life, from which we got to know the enormous power of sport to bring hope, to change lives or to be a candle light in a dark tunnel. I am proud and grateful of what my fellow colleagues around the world did with their eyes and hearts finding true love of sports. Also, from the submissions, I am more optimistic of the future of sports media.

Chinese journalists gave proof of an excellent average level in videomaking last year, placing 11 submissions among the top ten for each subcategory in Video. How do you explain this success according to your personal experience?

The 11 submissions among the top ten in AIPS Media Awards video categories last year is a recognition of Chinese sports media efforts in embracing the change of news environment. Video-making has been a basic and must-need skill for journalists in China for a long time. Being able to produce multi-media content, especially short videos, has been a necessary requirement for new recruits to media organizations.

The sports media industry, as other media, need to have a well balance of experience and creativity. Rich experience enables journalists to engage audience in the depth of news. But first of all, news producers should be able to attract audience to the subject. To achieve this aim, they need to grasp new skills as the tastes of the audience changes from time to time. Our practices have proved the best and convenient way is to make use of short-video. From our experience, we roughly have a “three-3s” basic principles in making short videos: to grasp audience in the first 3 seconds, a short video should be no longer than 3 minutes, watch the views of the video in the first 3 hours after it is published. If a short video performance is below average view rate on a certain platform, the producers need to rethink about the video.

Last year China was one of the countries with the largest number of submissions, a sign of great interest and desire to compete on the international stage. What do you expect from this year in terms of participation?

Yes, Chinese sport journalists have great interest in competing for the media awards, which can be shown through submissions. They are encouraged to submit their stories, photos, videos and audios. The world most prestigious sports media awards is not only a platform for them to show their works to the world, but also a chance to exchange ideas with their international colleagues through stories. I expect more submissions from Chinese sports journalists this year.

You are Deputy Director of Sports News Department of Xinhua News Agency, the largest news agency in the world. What has changed most in your work in such a large reality following the pandemic?

China is the first country hit by the pandemic in the world. From January 23, professional leagues and events such as the new season Chinese Super League and the Chinese Basketball Association league were suspended, National Winter Games and Beijing 2022 test events canceled, and sports facilities like gyms and ski resorts closed. Later, international sports events also came to a halt, I don’t need to mention the Tokyo Olympic Games which had to be postponed to next year. The sports world fell into a sudden silence. Practicing social-distancing in the fight against the virus, we could not do any on-site reporting, interviews, etc. Most of my colleagues had to work from home. We could no longer follow our work routine, we need to change.

We changed our focus from sports competitions to fitness training. During this special period, we did a lot of reports on how to keep fit while staying at home, helping our readers to stay positive and healthy. Many of the stories came from our readers including popular sports figures and citizens. We did more telephone or video interviews during the past months. During the social-distancing period, people tended to be talkative which helped us do interview stories.

Our journalists, especially younger reporters, are encouraged to capitalize the relatively free time to learn, either another language or other knowledge of their interests.  Some of them took part in the AIPS E-college courses to improve themselves, and to share their views with fellow young counterparts from the world.

Deputy Director of Sports News Department of Xinhua News Agency and IOC Press Committee member, began his sports media career in 1986. He has covered a series of important sports events including all Olympic Summer and Winter Games since 1992. For his long-time coverage of the Olympic movement, he was recognized by AIPS at the “Journalists on the Podium” event at four consecutive Olympic Games since London 2012. Mr. Zhou also takes the position of Deputy Secretary General in the Chinese Sports Press Association.

Split into 8 main categories, the Awards are a celebration of the best sport storytellers from around the world. Submissions for professionals are free and open until October 7, 2020. Find more and submit your work in To know how to submit, please check the quick guide. If you have questions, you can check our Frequently Asked Questions section or contact us at


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