The Population Institute's 28th Annual Global Media Awards
The winners of the 2007 Global Media Awards for Excellence in Population Reporting:
Melclaire Sy Delfin (GMA Network)
Enie Ndoh Cecile (Social Forum)
Victor Billy Gama (Population Services International/Malawi)
Bill Ryerson (Population Media Center)
Jim Motavalli (E/The Environmental Magazine)
Mithre Sandrasagra (Inter Press Service)
Emily Douglas (RH Reality Check)
Ben Merens (Wisconsin Public Radio)
Don Cayo (Vancouver Sun)
Richard Grossman (The Durango Herald)
Joel Pett (Lexington Herald-Leader)
Scott Radloff, Director, Office of Population and Reproductive Health, U.S. Agency for International Development
Lawrence Smith, President, Population Institute
Gib Clarke, Program Associate, Environmental Change and Security Program
"Global Media Award recipients have helped to create public awareness of population issues through their dedicated efforts," said Lawrence Smith, president of the Population Institute (PI). The winners of PI's 2007 Global Media Awards—including individual journalists and development practitioners from Cameroon, Malawi, and the Philippines, as well as media outlets such as Inter Press Service, E/The Environmental Magazine, and the Vancouver Sun—gathered at the Woodrow Wilson Center on December 5, 2007, to discuss their winning projects with fellow awardees. "We are hoping that these awards will direct much-needed attention to the importance of reducing rapid human growth and achieving a world population in balance with a healthy global environment," said Smith. ECSP hosted last year's winners, which included the Environmental Change and Security Program Report, in December 2006.
The awardees gave brief presentations outlining the challenges and rewards associated with their winning projects—and with covering population issues in general.
- Melclaire Sy Delfin, a television reporter with the Philippines' GMA Network and its U.S. affiliate GMA Pinoy TV, accepted the Best Individual Reporting Effort award for two stories on what she said were "population issues, but not regarded as such by the media." "When Wells Run Dry: A Tragedy Looming Large" warns that the Philippines' population growth is outpacing efforts to increase access to water. To read more about Delfin's report and the problem of water scarcity in the Philippines, click here. "The Forbidden Games Filipino Children Play" highlights the lack of sex education in the Philippines. Delfin's editors refused to broadcast this story on television, but they eventually agreed to print it. "I just wanted to give Filipinos a better choice" over matters like family planning and reproductive health, said Delfin. The birth of her first child spurred her interest in population issues, which led her to report on the environment, as well: "Even if I don't concentrate on environmental issues, it still creeps in." Click here to listen to Delfin speak about her winning stories.
- Enie Ndoh Cecile of Cameroon won the Best Electronic Commentary award for her radio show "Social Forum," which covers issues including environmental degradation, human rights, health, and women's empowerment. Cameroon is blessed with abundant natural resources, but the majority of its 17 million people suffer economic hardships, which Enie blamed on the state's lack of planning for the needs of its growing population. She called on the government to release census data and carry out population projections, and said that the "media has a vital role to play" in curbing the population crisis by bridging the gap between the government and the public—for instance, by disseminating information about family planning, safe sex, and reducing environmental impacts.
- Victor Billy Gama, program manager for Youth Alert!, an initiative run by Population Services International (PSI)/Malawi that seeks to reduce HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unplanned pregnancies among young people, accepted the Best Combined Media Effort on Behalf of Population award. The winning project, the Real Man/Real Woman Campaign, encouraged young people to delay engaging in sexual intercourse by sending the message that other activities—such as education—can also make an individual a "real man" or a "real woman." The campaign held a televised nation-wide song contest—similar to "American Idol"—and music videos of the six winning songs were compiled on DVDs. Teams with video equipment traveled to rural areas to show students and communities these DVDs. This "edutainment" approach has been extremely popular among young Malawians: "The Ministry of Education tolerates us, and the youth love it," said Andrew Miller of PSI/Malawi.
- Bill Ryerson accepted the Best Electronic Communications Service award on behalf of the Population Media Center (PMC), which he directs. The Vermont-based nonprofit produces original, long-running television and radio dramas that entertain viewers while educating them about family planning, reproductive health, and gender equality. These programs are very popular: Half of all Ethiopian adults reported regularly listening to PMC's radio serial dramas, "Yeken Kignit" and "Dhimbiba," which were broadcast between 2002 and 2004. In 2004, 63 percent of new clients seeking reproductive health services at 48 Ethiopian health clinics reported having seen or heard a PMC program, and 26 percent of new clients named a PMC program as the primary reason they had sought services. PMC has also trained journalists and producers in 15 countries to produce these kinds of programs, using its guide "Soap Operas for Social Change to Prevent HIV/AIDS: A Training Guide for Journalists and Media Personnel."
- Jim Motavalli, editor of E/The Environmental Magazine, received the award for Best Magazine Article for "Shaking the Baby Tree," which shows that falling birth rates are largely confined to developed countries, and that overall, the world continues to face unsustainably high population growth. Motavalli said that although rapid population growth is often a primary contributor to poverty and environmental degradation, it is frequently the "unspoken component—the one that doesn't get mentioned"—particularly by environmentalists. Click here to listen to Motavalli discuss his winning article.
- Mithre Sandrasagra accepted the Most Conscientious News Service award on behalf of Inter Press Service (IPS). The Rome-based news agency was founded 40 years ago and focuses on the issues facing developing nations, including health, population, economic development, education, and the environment. "All themes have vital population dimensions," said Sandrasagra, an associate editor and UN correspondent for IPS, who also noted that 70 percent of IPS reporters live in developing countries.
- Emily Douglas accepted the Best Electronic Forum award on behalf of RH Reality Check, where she is an assistant editor. Approaching population issues from a reproductive rights viewpoint, RH Reality Check includes a mix of breaking news and in-depth reporting on reproductive health issues, explained Douglas, and covers both domestic and international developments, including perspectives from Zimbabwe, Thailand, Kenya, Chile, Jamaica, and the Philippines. In addition, the site features a lively blog, policy backgrounders on U.S. and international reproductive health policies, and issue briefs on key reproductive rights issues.
- Ben Merens received the Best Radio Talk Show award for his two-hour, call-in show "At Issue With Ben Merens," which runs weekdays on Wisconsin Public Radio's Ideas Network and features experts, policymakers, and authors, including Thomas Homer-Dixon, Lawrence Smith, and William Easterly on population and development. Merens said he strives to show residents of small towns in Wisconsin how global issues affect them: "Understanding what's going on in Africa is as important as understanding what's going on in Milwaukee to somebody who lives in Wisconsin."
- Don Cayo accepted the Best Editorial Support award on behalf of The Vancouver Sun. The British Columbia newspaper was recognized for its consistent editorial attention to population, development, and environment issues. For instance, "War against poverty shows some successes," which ran on April 18, 2007, highlighted the connections between high population growth and poverty in the Global South.
- Richard Grossman, a Colorado gynecologist, won the Best Columnist award for "Population Matters," his long-running column for The Durango Herald. Grossman writes about family planning, reproductive health, and environmental issues linked to population, such as global climate and biodiversity. "The pen is mightier than the speculum," he quipped, explaining that he can reach a far larger audience through his columns than by seeing patients one at a time.
- Joel Pett won the Best Cartoonist award for his work with the Lexington Herald-Leader. Pulitzer Prize-winner Pett was recognized for numerous population-related cartoons that have been syndicated in newspapers around the country. Pett gave his fellow awardees a glimpse of what goes on behind the drawing board, whipping up several cartoons of U.S. presidents on an easel.
- Sharon Begley of Newsweek, who was not in attendance, received the Best Population/Environmental Reporting Effort award for "Global Warming Deniers: A Well-Funded Machine," a cover story that examined the financing behind prominent climate change skeptics.
Briefings on USAID; Population, Health, and Environment (PHE)
"In our health field, we always say that we don't fund problems, we fund solutions to problems, and what makes family planning…unique, I think, is that it's the solution to a whole array of problems, and I think that the media award-winners around the table…have captured that," said Scott Radloff, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Office of Population and Reproductive Health. He stressed that family planning and reproductive health programs have positive impacts on many measures of well-being, including maternal and child health, women's education, the environment, and even state stability. However, "there is a high percentage of women in developing countries that do not have access to family planning," said Radloff, and his office strives to address this deficit.
Radloff explained that USAID is in the process of "graduating" developing countries with high, stable levels of family planning use out of USAID family planning funding. This transition enables USAID to shift more of its $440 million annual family planning budget to areas with higher need—particularly Africa and South and Southeast Asia.
Radloff highlighted the important relationship between population and the environment: Population growth is "going to be more problematic in some countries more than others, depending on natural resource issues, for instance. There are a lot of countries that are already facing water issues, for example, or deforestation," said Radloff. He added that in calculating where to direct programming funds, USAID considers the role of natural resources: "We give higher priority, then, to countries where there's greater population pressures on resources" such as water and arable land.
USAID's Office of Population and Reproductive health also addresses population-environment links through its Population-Health-Environment (PHE) initiative, which supports integrated PHE programs in areas with high biodiversity. "For instance, there's an activity that focuses on the buffer areas surrounding the forest core in Madagascar," said Radloff. "And we have similar programs in Nepal, in Kenya, in Guatemala." USAID has developed a free online course (registration required) on the basics of PHE programs.
Drawing upon a presentation developed by Lori Hunter of the University of Colorado, Boulder, ECSP Program Associate Gib Clarke gave a brief overview of PHE programs, which maximize the benefits of family planning by combining these services with others that help communities lift themselves out of poverty.
Drafted by Rachel Weisshaar and edited by Meaghan Parker.