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Awarding excellence in reporting on children

© UNICEF/2011/Jannatul Mawa
Children of Aparajeyo Bangladesh perform a dance during the Meena Media Award ceremony held at the Hotel Sonargoan on 13 October 2011.
By Konka Karim

Dhaka, 20 October, 2011: Forhad Bin Sadek Chowdhury who works at the Bangladesh Betar in Chittagong, decided one day to make a radio documentary on the plight of young women being forced into early marriages in the country. By the time he was done, Forhad was a changed man, and he now has a mission in his life.

“I remember I had to edit out large parts of my story because one of the young girls I spoke to was choking in her tears so much that she could hardly talk,” remembers Forhad, who went on to win the Best Radio (Creative) award at the 7th Meena Media Award 2011.

“I am so glad to win this award that I now want to ‘edit’ out in real life all those choking voices of young girls across the country,” he said.
Forhad was awarded at a glittering and colourful event, comprising of song and dance presentations done by children, and an arena decorated with cardboard cut outs, stand-ups and other paraphernalia, during the 7th Meena Media Award 2011 ceremony held at the Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon on October 13.

Introduced by UNICEF to celebrate excellence in creative media and journalism, in both print and electronic streams, this year, 29 individuals – both adult and children - were awarded for excellence in reporting and creative work on children.

The event kicked off with an enchanting presentation from children, in colourful attire, dancing to the famous children's song ‘Amader desh ta shopnopori’ (our country is a fairyland).

“The most precious resource of Bangladesh is its children,” said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh, in his welcome speech. “We need to invest in them to ensure that they fulfil their own potential and consequently that of Bangladesh,” he added.

 The 2011 contest attracted an array of creative and journalistic entries, as many as 400, which have found their way into newspapers, television channels and radios over the last year. From the fascinating story of a young boy working as a snake charmer, to children being victims of physical abuse and early marriage, the winners of this years’ event showcased a range of issues afflicting children in Bangladesh, many of which found their way into presentations at the awards ceremony.

© UNICEF/2011/Jannatul Mawa
Prionti Debnath Puja accepts a Meena Award for Journalistic Work in Print Media from Carel de Rooy, Representative, UNICEF Bangladesh and Jewel Aich, renowned magician and UNICEF Advocate for Child Rights on 13 October 2011.
“There were a lot more entries this year compared to what we had before and some of the pieces were so good that it was difficult not to give them good marks,” said Shahnoor Wahid, a judge at the event. “The fact that children have taken the trouble to write it and then get it published is in itself a great endeavour”, he added.

 The award began in 2005. For the first time this year, creative work and reporting for radio was introduced as a separate category.

During the ceremony, Rifat Kabir Sharna won the first prize for Creative Writing in Print Media (Under 18), while B M Barkatullah won the same award in the adult category. Hosain Mohammed Sagor won an award for Report Writing in Print Media (Under 18), while Sheikh Sabiha Alam won the report writing award in the adult category. S.M. Alamgir Hossain from Radio Today won an award for Radio Report Writing.

In Broadcast Media-Television Creative, Sohel Rana Sobuj won in the Under 18 category, while Mir Barkat and Tammana Tithi won the Over 18 category. Ahnaf Zannat Purnota won for the Broadcast Media- Television Report (Under 18), while Shahnaz Sharmeen Rinvy won in the adult category.

 “This is my first ever award and I am so happy that I can hardly speak now,” said an emotion-choked Rifat, adding, “This will encourage me a lot and I plan to give more time and effort to writing from now on.”

“Reporting on children, their issues and rights, is not something consciously focused upon by large sections of the media in Bangladesh,” said Shumona Sharmeen, one of the judges of the contest. “This award by UNICEF has encouraged and given a platform to many to express their concerns over children’s issues,” she added. The other judges included Selina Hossain, Shamim Reza, Robaet Ferdous, Shamim Shahed, Ratan Paul and Qadir Kollol.  

The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd award recipients of each category and age-groups received Tk 50,000, Tk 25,000 and Tk 15,000 in cash prize respectively in addition to a crest and a certificate. 

As the awards rolled out, so did the performances. Dances and acrobatic stunts by children of different ages kept the audience entertained, while the event was also used as an opportunity to communicate important information about children and their rights. Through the event, UNICEF informed the audience about a toll-free number for any kind of assistance for children - 1098.



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