Young Humanitarian Journalists Competition 2021 gets rolling
What role does the media play in reporting humanitarian crises? How does journalism extend its influence to humanitarian issues? Since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, has the world given enough attention to other humanitarian issues of concern, from the rise in global nuclear tensions to the events unfolding in Myanmar and Afghanistan?
These are some of the issues that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), hope to explore via the Young Humanitarian Journalists Competition 2021 launched today.
The competition is an expansion of the Young Humanitarian Writers Competition organized since 2015. Young aspiring journalists are invited to raise awareness on humanitarian issues via their entries, while being careful not to cause additional harm to the people they are reporting about.
Head of the ICRC's regional delegation in Kuala Lumpur Biljana Milosevic said the pandemic-driven shift to online platforms as the preferred method of communication has made it increasingly important to engage youths on the types of content they produce. "Youths are themselves conversation starters and, in many ways, they play the same role that a trained journalist does, which is to disseminate information to the general public. It goes without saying that what they produce has the potential to influence public discourse," she said.
This year's competition includes two categories in writing and video production, and two broad themes to guide each entry: "The role of media in reporting humanitarian crises" and "International humanitarian law (IHL): The nuclear ban treaty". For the first theme, participants may choose humanitarian topics such as the COVID-19 crisis, xenophobia towards migrants, among others. Meanwhile, the second theme focuses on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), a topic of major interest to Malaysia.
The ICRC will also organize two online talks on each theme to help participants learn more about the issues from subject-matter experts. A panel discussion titled "Malaysia and the nuclear ban treaty: One year after ratification" will be streamed live on ICRC Malaysia's Facebook page from 5pm to 6pm on 11 November.
The second session on "The role of media in reporting humanitarian crises: Practical tips" will be organized from 3pm to 5pm on 12 November and will feature industry experts who will share insights and perspectives. Those interested may register for the talks here.
"The competition is a timely call to action to young people, including students and media professionals, to report on urgent humanitarian issues that may have been neglected," said Associate Professor Dr Massila Hamzah, Dean of Faculty of Communication and Media Studies at UiTM.
"This is the first time we are collaborating with the ICRC in co-organizing this competition, supported by the National Press Club and the Malaysian Red Crescent Society. Through this unique collaboration, we have gathered stakeholders from various agencies from humanitarian aid sectors to industry players as well as academia. I hope we are able to inspire students and young media professionals to become responsible journalists capable of playing their role in reporting humanitarian crises effectively," she added.
Open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 in Malaysia, and also Malaysians residing abroad, the competition aims to encourage the promotion of humanitarian issues, particularly those related to IHL and humanitarian principles, to protect lives and reduce human suffering.
The final day of submissions for the competition is 30 November 2021. For more information, please refer to the competition poster, or visit any websites of the co-organisers and supporting organisations.