Meet the Jurors: Shinsuke Kobayashi highlights impact of AIPS Awards on young reporters

  • July 31, 2020
Graphics by Nordcap Studio

AIPS Media

LAUSANNE, July 27, 2020 - For Shinsuke Kobayashi, one of Japan’s most distinguished sports journalists, there are hardly any positives to extract from the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but he encourages everyone to look on the bright side. And for sports journalists across the world, the AIPS Sport Media Awards convey such optimism. Kobayashi, a proud member of the Awards jury, believes the Awards will especially continue to help young sports reporters improve their careers. To show that one never stops learning, the Deputy Managing Director at Kyodo News took advantage of the state of emergency in Japan to expand his knowledge.

“In this era of technology, anyone can express one’s opinion or put out stories using various platforms. However, it is only the professional journalists who can present real stories to the audience, that are trustful and unbiased. And to do a good reporting, you need to be trained,” he explains.

In this interview with AIPS, Kobayashi also speaks about his expectation for this year’s edition of the AIPS Sport Media Awards and the lesson learnt from the prolonged shutdown of the sports world.

How difficult and how beautiful was to judge over 1700 submissions from 120 countries last year?

Of course, it was hard to evaluate so many submissions. The Executive Committee of AIPS does the first screening, so we didn’t have to go through all of them, but still, it was a lot of work. The most important thing in judging is to be fair and square. Each juror comes from different background and has different taste and preferences. So we discussed thoroughly and in the end, we had to vote. We were dealing with collective effort of the journalists who submitted their work. When I vote, I always try to make sure that I have a sound reason for putting one submission over another.

What is your advice for the participants that are suffering the financial and emotional effects of the pandemic?

I can’t give much advice but words of encouragement. There is always a bright morning after a stormy night. You just need to keep your hope and think and do whatever that makes you feel positive. When the state of emergency was declared in Japan and I was not able to go to my office, I started looking for online courses in Sports Analytics. Although I was short of submitting my application, it was an interesting process and a lot of fun. I will save my Statement of Purpose for future use.

Is the Young Reporter category even more important now that media access is being limited and the young generation risks being kept in the dark?

The Young Reporters category is important because it will encourage young people to pursue their career in journalism. In this era of technology, anyone can express one’s opinion or put out stories using various platforms. However, it is only the professional journalists who can present real stories to the audience, that are trustful and unbiased. And to do a good reporting, you need to be trained. I think this category pushes young reporters to strive and improve, as well as opens doors to future possibilities.

With the Olympics Games Tokyo 2020 and many other events postponed, will the submissions give more relevance to the local factor?

As so many professional leagues around the world were halted for a long period of time, I expect more stories with local angles in this year’s submissions. As well as stories on local sports activities, there may be stories about people’s lives without sports and how they missed sports.

Do you think that the pandemic will bring new storytelling techniques and more in-depth stories that ultimately will have an impact in the submissions?

It is rather hard to find positive effects from what the Covid-19 has done to sports reporting. Reporters are separated and kept away from sports scenes and athletes. We lost our access. A lesson we learned from this situation is that it is crucial to have your own sources. If you have means to reach athletes or officials directly, you will still be able to interview them and write stories. This time of pandemic might have exposed the difference between reporters who have good resources and those who don’t.


Shinsuke Kobayashi joined Kyodo News, Japan's leading news agency in 1987 as a sports reporter. He covered numerous national and international sporting events including five Summer and five Winter Olympic Games. Having enjoyed spells in New York and London as a correspondent, Kobayashi became Deputy Editor in 2010, then Chief Editor of Sports News Section at Kyodo News from 2014 to 2018. He has been Secretary General of Japan Sports Press Association since 2015. He is a member of the IOC Press Committee. He now leads Kyodo’s coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Games as Managing Director of Olympic and Paralympic News Office.

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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