Wan-Ifra to honour winners of Young Reader Prize at Mumbai conference

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra), the global organisation of the world’s newspapers and news publishers, has awarded a World Young Reader Prize to the French news media for their extraordinary, collective work in helping young people understand the Charlie Hebdo attacks and their implications.

22 Jul 2015 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

Denmark’s Kids’ News, a newspaper for children, won a silver award in the category for similar treatment of the attacks. 
The World Young Reader Prizes are part of Wan-Ifra’s efforts to recognise, encourage and disseminate innovative ideas and thinking to help build stronger and vital news media. The World Young Reader Prize winning strategies are celebrated and shared as they benefit not only the media companies and their young audiences but also society as a whole.
The prizes will be awarded in a ceremony on 3 September 2015, during the Wan-Ifra India Conference in Mumbai. The event will also include a session on strategies for youth engagement. The Wan-Ifra India Conference and Expo is on 2-4 September 2015 at Bombay Exhibition Centre. 
“French society was traumatised by the events of 7 January 2015, especially the country’s youth,” said Aralynn McMane, executive director for youth engagement at Wan-Ifra. “France’s news media did an exceptional job in helping young people deal with their trauma and fear and, critically, to understand the importance of freedom of expression. By doing so, the French media demonstrated, both in words and action, the value of a free press to democratic society.”
The top World Young Reader Prize - News Publisher of the Year - went to Indonesia’s Kompas Daily for its multimedia approach to reaching a young audience and helping them become more active in society. Through extensive experimentation with social media, Kompas provided young people with a quality platform so their voices could be heard, taught them the difference between professional journalism and other content, and did so in an entertaining way.
Other awards honoured the full range of actions publishers can take to engage the young, starting with the key work of assuring this new generation understands and appreciates the role of journalism in guarding free expression. In addition to the World Young Reader News Publisher of the Year, the 2015 prizes were awarded in seven categories: teaching freedom, digital first, brand, editorial, enduring excellence, news in education and public service.
Based in Paris, France, and Frankfurt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore and India, Wan-Ifra is the global organisation of the world’s newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. 
At the World Young Readers Prize awards instituted by World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra), Indian news media too managed to grab three important honours.
The digital platform, Youth Ki Awaaz (youthkiawaaz.com) received the top prize in the ‘Enduring Excellence (Public Service) category for its approach to taboo subjects. In the ‘Public Service’ category, Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi won a silver award for its Nanma volunteering initiative. The paper shares the award with another Malayalam daily, Malayala Manorama for its School Harvest Project.
Youth Ki Awaaz, with 700,000 to 1 million unique users, two million page-views a month, is an initiative driven by a community model, which marries crowd-sourcing techniques with a unique editorial style to get everyone to contribute. The initiative builds the perspective that young citizens are inquisitive, concerned and believes in sparking conversations. 
Starting 2008, the website has crowd-sourced content from young contributors and seeks to create social change by starting a dialogue on gender-based violence, free speech and other human rights issues. Individual personal testimonies, especially of usually taboo topics affecting women, have garnered up to half a million unique page views.
According to the Wan-Ifra jury, this is a good model how storytelling journalism can address society's taboos, become viral content and trigger debate. Since 2008, they have tackled such difficult subjects, but these are exactly the subjects young people want to hear and talk about. It is a good lesson for news publishers.
Mathrubhumi, with the circulation of 1,470,289, teamed up with the VKC group shoe company and launched the Vidya-VKC Junior ‘Nanma’ project that promotes virtue in young people through public service. Almost 7,000 schools across Kerala participate in the programme that has brought houses, food and medical services to 14 different states.
According to the Wan-Ifra jury, it was an impressive social project that made public service a competition between schools. The jury was impressed that a newspaper made such a big effort to instill good values in its young readers and showcase their stories of how they helped others. It was the simple and powerful use of media marketing power.
Malayala Manorama, with a circulation of 2,390,000, started The School Harvest Project to encourage young students to get involved in agriculture by planting vegetable gardens at their schools. Total 1,500 schools registered and with the help of the vegetable and fruits promotion council of Kerala (VFCK), they distributed free seeds to all participating schools to start off their program and printed gardening tips and directions in the newspaper. All of the produce was 100% organic and was either given to students or local charities.
According to the Wan-Ifra juries, this smart project creates awareness and interest for organic farming among the youngsters by promoting ecology in a practical way. This is one that many publishers could do.