Plastics News reporter wins journalism awards

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Caroline Seidel Asia Bureau Chief Steve Toloken.

The Society of Professional Journalists’ Detroit chapter has honored Plastics News’ Asia Bureau Chief Steve Toloken for his coverage of the collapse of Feng Ping Tooling & Plastics Mfg. Co. Ltd. and businessman Chip Starnes being held hostage by his employees with two first place awards for breaking news.

Starnes was held captive for six days in a Beijing injection molding factory, and Toloken profiled the ordeal after an interview with Starnes.

Feng Ping’s owners were held hostage in their own plant in Dongguan, China, by disgruntled workers and had to escape in the trunk of a car. Workers were arrested for blocking traffic in protest of over what they called an unfair labor settlement. Toloken, who is based in Guangzhou, China, interviewed the owners and went to Dongguan to interview workers outside the plant.

Judges from SPJ chapters in San Diego and Louisville, Ky., reviewed more than 400 submissions for the annual awards. They gave Toloken the top award both in the Class C category for non-daily newspapers and trade magazines, and for Online reporting, which is open to all types of print publications.

“The writer offers good details and a clear explanation regarding the struggles of a businessman who was held hostage for five days in China by employees who were upset with his company,” the judges said in their comments about his story on Starnes.

“It’s always great when our talented journalists are recognized for their efforts,” added Plastics News Editor Don Loepp. “We’re very proud of Steve’s awards, and I know Plastics News readers appreciate these examples of our high-quality journalism.”