Entries open for 2020 Isu Elihle Awards

Journalists working within Africa are invited to submit story ideas for the 2020 Isu Elihle Awards that are welcoming innovative reporting about children.

The awards are organised by Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) to amplify the voices of children in Africa and highlight their state on the continent.

“Reporting on children can be stereotyped and poor but it can also yield some of the most powerful stories.

“We know if we give journalists time to think of great stories they can do, they deliver. It’s one of the reasons why we created the Isu Elihle awards to give space to bring out the best stories about children. Enter now and see your idea come to life and make a difference, said MMA director William Bird in a newsletter.

Journalists have until 30 June to submit their story ideas targeted for either mainstream radio, print, or television. Thereafter, the top six story ideas will be selected in September and these top six journalists will be granted R 10 000 each, and MMA will offer support to help them develop their story ideas.

The 2019 Isu Elihle Awards finalists received financial support to develop their story ideas on children. Photo: Provided

The overall winner will be awarded a cash prize of R25 000 while the journalist in second place will receive R 15 000 and the journalist placed third will win R10 000.

“More than the prize money and more than the prestige, what the Isu Elihle Awards offer is a network, a network of like-minded, passionate individuals across the African continent to mentor, to brainstorm with, to help each other grow and that has been the biggest reward,” South African journalist Jamaine Krige told frayintermedia.

Krige was the overall winner in 2018 for her story about scholar transport safety broadcast on SAfm. For last year’s awards, Krige came second for a collaborative series published on Al Jazeera with photojournalist Yeshiel Panchia about undocumented and unaccompanied foreign children in South Africa.

Jamaine Krige interviewing children for her 2018 Isu Elihle Awards entry on scholar transport. Photo: Provided

Last year’s winner was Kenyan Thomas Bwire. His video features children living in Kibera, Nairobi talking about their wish to have an area of play living in Africa’s largest slum.

“At least with my story kids had a voice to say, This is what we go through, this is our challenge, this is what we would want the government to do,” he told frayintermedia.

Thomas Bwire holding his award. Photo: Provided

Krige said the few children-focused stories that we see have one “major flaw”: They omit the voices of the children that are being reported on.

“As journalists, we often write about issues that affect children, we write it without actually including children’s voices, children’s input, the children’s solutions. We don’t hear from the very people we are writing on. Now in any other type of reporting, that would be completely unheard of,” Krige said.

She said traditional media makes the mistake of catering to a reader demographic yet by excluding the voices of children, they not only exclude a large population but as well as an entire future population.

“For me, as a journalist, I think it is a problem to ignore the voices of children because I see the media will come and report about children’s stories when they are raped and abused. That is when they will come running with their cameras,” Bwire said.

Krige advises journalists entering this year’s awards to “just do it” adding that there are few opportunities where journalists can be funded and supported to explore ideas they are passionate about.

“Any story from any beat can be written and produced in such a way that it actually shines a spotlight on how it affects children,” she said.

Bwire said this year’s aspiring winners should read extensively, talk to their community about what affects and not complicate their story ideas.

“Just talk to the kids, hear their voices and just ask them, ‘what stories do you think we should tell as journalists?’” Bwire said.

Find out more about the Isu Elihle Awards here.

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