Nine of the 14 journalists from Kerala and Tamil Nadu selected for the PII-UNICEF Fellowships for 2016 were presented completion certificates on Friday, February 25, at the Press Institute of India by Job Zachariah, Head of Field Office for UNICEF (Tamil Nadu & Kerala). The five others selected could not make it to the event.
The fellowship programme helped the journalists produce 72 stories, all focused on high-priority issues related to children and child rights – for example, drug abuse among schoolchildren, education and health, child substance abuse, violence against children, open defecation, mentally challenged children facing discrimination, child labour, malnutrition and anaemia, infant deaths, child welfare, tribal children and their hopes, and the plight of the children of migrant labourers.
Each of the journalists present spoke about their experiences while working on the stories and some of them pointed to the impact the stories had created, with the concerned state government taking necessary measures to make the lives of children better.
The journalists present were Cissy Jacob (Mathrubhumi), Jerin Joy (Malayala Manorama), Johnson Poovanthuruth (Deepika), Laxmi Prasanna (The Times of India), Mahesh Gupthan (Malayala Manorama), K. Nagappan (The Hindu Tamil), K.H. Remya (Mathrubhumi), Reji Joseph (Rashtra Deepika), and K.S. Sugitha (Kalaignar TV).
Lavanya (News 7 TV), P.K. Navya (India Together), Renjith John (Deepika), Ranjith Chathoth (Mathrubhumi) and Sukanya Satyam (The Times of India) were unable to attend.
The 2016 PII-UNICEF Fellowships programme ran for a little more than four months. The objective of the programme was to encourage mid-career journalists to analyse and report on the different dimensions related to the implementation of child rights in Tamil Nadu and Kerala – the right to survival, the right to development and the right to participate, and also to encourage journalists who can act as one voice for children against violation of their rights and for their overall betterment.
The aim was also to bring various issues affecting children into the realm of media discourse to influence decision-makers; create greater awareness in the media about child rights, its implementation and violation; strengthen public opinion in building an enabling environment for positive measures to be taken; promote effective communication that draws attention to children’s issues; and facilitate informed dialogue among key stakeholders on children’s issues.
An orientation programme for the selected journalists was held on September 13 last year at the Press Institute of India.
Present at the event were Sashi Nair, director-editor, Press institute of India, and Sugata Roy, Communications specialist, UNICEF (TN & Kerala).