Two of the Caribbean`s top newspapers, the Jamaica Gleaner and the Trinidad Express, were recognised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for corporate leadership in covering “Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” issues, such as curbing the spread of HIV, preventing early initiation of sexual activity, fostering behavioural change and promoting gender equality.
The newspapers received respective platinum and gold awards at UNFPA`s 2003 Caribbean Media Awards held at the Hilton Kingston in Jamaica on Friday 21 November.
“Based on the submissions, we have concluded that the Gleaner decided to focus quite a lot of editorial attention on reproductive health, the plight of children and HIV/AIDS and that merits recognition,” said Chief Judge and international editor, Tony Best, who also commended the Trinidad Express which devoted a large amount of space to the subject of people`s reproductive health. “It`s a commendable public service by both newspapers because the emphasis was on information and education and that should help point other media houses in the region in a similar direction.”
The platinum award in the print category was awarded to Indi Mcylmont-Lafayette of the Jamaica Observer for her story “Sandi`s Foray into Prostitution”. The ability of the writer to convince Sandi to use her name, candidly discuss her sexual history and to deal with taboos about prostitution were the clinchers for the judging panel, while Suszanna Clarke of the Trinidad Express captured the gold prize for her column “Our Children are Having Sex, We need to get real,” placing the issue of reproductive health rights forthrightly in front of readers.
In the radio category, top honours went to Guyana`s Denis Chabrol, contributor to BBC`s Caribbean Service, for an entry on HIV/AIDS among sex workers in Guyana while second prize was captured by Patricia Clarke, a news presenter on Jamaica`s IRIE FM for her report on the overwhelming need to address the problem of the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. Judge panel moderator, Ian Williams, also chairman of the United Nations Correspondents Association`s Awards Committee, described these radio entries as “very relevant, original in presentation and involving quite a lot of work”.
In the television category, St. Lucia-based producer Ernest “Ché” Rodriguez won the platinum award for his docudrama, “JOU MALE” which addresses the predatory “sugar-daddy” relationship between young girls and older or more financially stable males. Gold winner was Television Jamaica`s Carol Francis, producer of Prime Time Kids News. This Programme, where the kids themselves do the anchoring and the reporting, dealt with discrimination against children with the HIV/AIDS virus and who are attending schools, focusing on the myths and misconceptions they face. Young Martin Pagon interviewed Jamaican Health Minister, John Junor, about the issues and one of the reporters herself is a young HIV positive school kid. “The vehicle, method and message could not be better for the theme of the competition,” said Best.
All platinum winners received US$1,200, plus complimentary hotel nights at various Caribbean hotels, while the gold awardees banked US$800, plus complimentary hotel stays. Air Jamaica was the official carrier of this year`s awards, while Caribbean Star offered complimentary airline tickets for the event.
“It is UNFPA’s intention to continue to deliver an annual Media Awards scheme that sets a new standard of excellence and in which our partnership with the Caribbean media is a rich, long and lasting one,” said UNFPA representative, Hetty Sarjeant. “We are truly appreciative of the journalists who took precious time from their daily deadlines to enter this year’s Media Awards. We consider them all true winners.”
The 1998 Miss Universe from Trinidad and Tobago, and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, Wendy Fitzwilliam delivered the feature address on the importance of adults communicating with adolescents on reproductive health issues, while Senator Delano Franklyn, Jamaica`s Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, challenged the media to keep education at the forefront of their coverage. Jamaican cultural group, Ashe, rendered a stunning presentation during the event, while Jamaican youth stars, Jody-Anne Maxwell and Sean Ashley announced the winners.
The 2003 UNFPA Caribbean Media Awards, staged by UNFPA and Counterpart International, was supported by Air Jamaica, Almond Beach Resorts in Barbados, Caribbean Star Airlines, Caribbean Sun, Half Moon Montego Bay, Hilton Caribbean, Hilton Kingston and Bay Gardens Hotel and Coco Kréole in St. Lucia.
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