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Children and the media

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Prizes signify value and achievement. They can stimulate innovation and the pursuit of excellence. Prizes for individual performances, publications, programmes, effective journalistic and marketing campaigns or website design can provide a focus for children and young people and help to spotlight best practice and share it with others. Within the media industries, awards are also an important feature of marketing, generating public interest and sales.

Encouraging fresh approaches to media production by, with and for children can be achieved by including certain criteria in awards - for example, respect for the child's perspective, or engaging young people at each stage of the production process.

Those in a position to initiate awards for child-friendly media products may wish to consider consulting children in the planning of an awards scheme, and the adjudication process. They may also wish to include a requirement that responsible involvement of children and young people is a key determinant of eligibility. This in turn may place a responsibility upon entrants to describe the participative techniques they have employed, so that others can benefit from their solutions to particular obstacles.

Another important consideration is sustainability. Are all relevant professional bodies aware of the awards scheme - from media producers to teachers, as well as the networks of voluntary organizations working directly with children? Have the awards been designed to give them sufficient exposure and kudos to encourage participation? What thought has been given to creating an awards process that makes best use of new communications technology to involve the public and members of specific age groups or professions in the awarding of prizes?

The global media market place makes it possible to develop award schemes that can operate at a national, regional and international level. Partnerships with media producers can bring opportunities to share best practice across borders. International Children's Day of Broadcasting, the Prix Jeunesse and initiatives of the European Broadcasting Union are good examples.

Underlying the prize-giving process should be the intention that the winners will always be children. That means recognizing the contribution that children themselves can make to media production. Awards for children's newspapers, photography, film and programme-making and website production sponsored by NGOs or the media industries, for example, are powerful stimulants

Good practice

The following are examples of good practice, and suggestions of further web research.

• Among the innovative approaches of The Prix Jeunesse is the packaging of the best entries as a 'suitcase' with multilingual supporting materials that are available for presentation anywhere in the world, to exemplify good practice and encourage replication.

• The Canadian-based International Center of Films for children and Young People has been awarding prizes since 1981 to outstanding productions for children and young people that: have a potential for international distribution; contribute to better understanding between children and young people throughout the world; are of high standard of artistic achievement and technical competence; and which - in form and content - promote and respect the rights of children.

Clap Cartable, organized by the regional administration of the French state education system, is one of numerous video festivals where children are film-makers and jury.

• The Premios Iberoamericanos de Comunicación por los Derechos de la Niñez, established in co-operation with UNICEF through its Americas and Caribbean Regional Office, the Spanish National Committee for UNICEF and the press agency EFE offers prizes for the most effective use of print, radio, television and photography to promote and defend of the rights of the child.

• The Chicago International Children's Film Festival engages both children and adults in the process of selecting 180 films for entry to the festival. A specially trained multi-ethnic Children's Jury and three Adult Juries of media professionals then make the awards.

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