Sometimes university life, and life in general, have a way of making us forget the truly important things. Trivial matters take precedence most of the time and it becomes quite simple to lose sight of ‘the bigger picture’.
One World Media is a small organization that does a big job. This UK-based organization promotes meaningful media and aims to raise awareness of issues worldwide. At their annual award giving ceremony they honour journalists and documentaries in different categories for their enthusiasm, originality, quality and commitment.
This year's One World Media Awards gave me a startling awakening. While we all acknowledge that the press holds a certain power and influence over the way we look at many things, we take it for granted. The different categories and entries in this year’s Media Awards made me believe in that idealised concept of journalism I once had. It's the one where you are almost a rock star, where you travel around the world, report on important issues and get paid to give your opinion on equally significant topics. While the rebirth of this fantasy of mine is not quite the original (much less glamorous), it is nonetheless reborn.
Each award is judged by a jury – usually of the top media figures and trustee members. This year the Children's Rights Award, sponsored by UNICEF, was completely different. The Youth Jury, made up of four 'young people'; Sonum Somaria, 22, a first year Spanish and Russian student, Nicholas Padden, 21, currently taking a gap year, Ellen Jepson, 16, just finishing her GCSEs, and myself, were selected from a national competition. All entrants had to answer two questions; one about the importance of the media in children's rights and another regarding what they would look for as jury members in the winning entry.
Part of our prize involved being taken down to London for two exciting days. We met with journalist Mike Thompson from BBC Radio 4, and Jezza Neumann, director of ‘China’s Stolen Children’. We also got a guided tour of the Observer and Guardian’s offices by the Observer’s Chief Reporter Tracy McVeigh, and we watched Channel 4 News go out live at noon.
It wasn’t all prizes and fun though – our task was to judge the Children’s Rights category. The documentaries and radio programmes we had to watch and listen to (11 total) were all about truly difficult subjects; from children in refugee camps in Sudan, child brides in India to students in China. Sat on my living room floor with papers piled around me I was putting myself through an emotional rollercoaster each time I pressed play. It was a bittersweet feeling, more depressing and bitter than sweet. The subjects these documentaries looked at were really difficult and sad to watch, but sweet in the sense that the journalism and production of each entry was of the highest level.
I watched them one after another, over the course of two emotionally crushing days. Coming to a decision wasn’t easy, although we agreed on the winner - Dispatches: Saving Africa’s Witch Children - almost immediately.
The award ceremony itself was exciting but terrifying. I presented an award in front of some very important media people and in front of a multitude of cameras as the whole affair was being recorded to be broadcast later on BBC World News. It was fun though – I had a great time meeting journalists and being inspired by the amazing work honoured and promoted by One World Media.
The One World Media Awards definitely reminded me of the bigger picture; the power of the media and the power we have as journalists.
Children's Rights category winner Mags Gavan, of the Channel 4 Dispatches team, said: "This award meant a lot to us, because it was chosen by children and young people - we believe that the future is in their hands, and we should help in any way possible to give them a voice in this world."
By Sam Rogers, Content Editor
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Sam presents an award (left) and winners Dispatches celebrate receiving the Children's Rights accolade