Writing about the children [Archives:2008/1213/Viewpoint]

December 4 2008

Nadia Al-Saqqaf
Two of the four categories of UNICEF's first media prize on child rights went to Yemeni Journalists. Mohammed Jabri working with IRIN, Online Humanitarian News Services won the Internet category because of his news article covering a movement to encourage girls' education and a new study on street children. And Samir Mohammed al-Math'haji, working with Sana'a Radio, first channel for the radio category for his series: From the memory of children which is on youth discussing key issues in their lives from their early adolescent days.

A journalist from Syria won the TV category while one from Egypt won in the press category.

The fact that two of the winners are from Yemen says something. It give hope that there are some Yemeni journalists who are using their talent and profession to make a difference and are targeting issues regarding the younger generations to help create a better future.

The selection of the stories was based on the writing and message delivered through them whether to decision makers regarding child issues or to the children themselves in hope to make them see the world through a more constructive perspective and perhaps act upon it.

In a time where there is so much struggle and unrest in Yemen, such journalists and such initiatives are very much needed. We need people like Mohammed and Samir to covey a different message than the depressing one which dominates the press and even in social gatherings. The pieces chosen were solution-oriented aimed at promoting development and protecting children's rights. This kind of journalism is what won them the awards and is what makes the journalists behind them the real heroes and role models for all Yemeni journalists.

We are trying to do this in Yemen Times, although it is a very difficult task. Mainly because many of the topics that are worthy are either taboos, or don't have much background and statistical information. More so, the media message needs to be constructive and attractive in order to attract readers and convince decision makers to act upon. Many times a well written media report can create significant change in both policy and the community levels. And when it comes to youth and children, it is more crucial to give the correct information so that it helps make the desired change.

Congratulations to Mohammed and Samir for doing an excellent job. I hope that other journalists will follow through, and realize that good work doesn't go wasted or unappreciated.