World Young Reader Prizes: 5 takeaways from winning newsrooms

Each year we honor and share the most innovative case studies from news organisations that are successfully connecting with young readers. There are lessons to be drawn from this year’s winners writes Aralynn McMane, WAN-IFRA’s Executive Director of Youth Engagement and News Literacy.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | July 21, 2015

The winning case studies from the 2015 World Young Reader Prizes were announced on Monday and are listed here. After assessing them along with our jury, I am left with a few observations:

1. Young people can teach their elders a thing our two about good reporting. The Young Post team at the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), has shown how to wisely use social media and demonstrated solid, brave reporting tactics while the team at Youth Ki Awaaz (India) has shown how to have meaningful interaction with an audience about tough topics.

2. Top winners know they must focus on very specific life stages, not a broad age range. The best of them start well before someone becomes that extremely wide range of young adult many are calling “Millennial.” For example, news-o-matic news app from Press4Kids (USA) for primary school children (a top winner in the editorial category) rewrites its text for two different reading levels within that life stage and starts quality interaction with each level as well.

3. Learning about journalism can offer children a tool for life and create the discerning audience we need. We’ve long said that news operations are well-placed to help give a child the skills to look at ALL information from all sources as if they were reporters. This year’s winners show a variety of ways to that: The Philippine Daily Inquirer with “Junior Snoops”, The Straits Times (Singapore) with its Idea JamClarin (Argentina) with its interactive experience at the Buenos Aires children’s museum. This year’s World Young Reader Publisher of the Year, Kompas (Indonesia) keeps a team of teenage journalists working right next to the newsroom.

4. We need to be there for the “firsts” — especially when they help create the literate, civic-minded new citizens we must have to survive. Mathrubhumi gave Indian youth a first opportunity to help the community, The Daily Trust staff organized first classes for refugees from northern Nigeria, and The News Lens (Taiwan) offered inspiration for  teenagers who wanted to be part of creating change.

5. It’s never too early to teach about freedom of expression and of the press. France’s news media as a whole and Denmark’s Kids’ News did an extraordinary job of explaining the Charlie Hebdo attacks and what they meant, each winning our special “Teaching Freedom” award.

The prizes will be awarded on 3 September in Mumbai, India, during the WAN-IFRA India Conference that will include a session by some of the winners about strategies for youth engagement.

POSTSCRIPT – All that said, we still do a lousy job at integrating the young voice into our general coverage. Check your own editions today to see if you have interviewed young people for any stories and, if so, are they only “youth” stories? Also, take a look at your headlines in stories about youth and see if you are inadvertently insulting this entire group of people.

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