Twelve winners of the national contest Reporter interned in the newsrooms of top media organisations, the organisers of the contest analysed participants’ work, and partners offered support for continuation of the contest.
The idea of developing media literacy through content creation found its fans all around Ukraine: during the competition, the participants were improving their media literacy skills, and the winners got a chance to work on their stories together with professional journalists. At the same time, there is a lot of space for improvement: many young people do not see the difference between blogging and journalism. On December 23, the organisers and partners of the Reporter contest summed up the results of the project at a press conference at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.
Let’s remember how it was. The national media literacy project “Filter” together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine organised the first Reporter national contest for school children. To participate in the contest, students of 9-11 grades had to pass a media literacy test and submit their material (video or audio podcast) on one of the three suggested topics — health, ecology, or inspiring stories.
Anna Vlasenko, Program manager at Filter project, noted that 858 people had passed the media literacy test. Almost half of them sent materials to participate in the contest — the organisers registered 429 works. Young people from all regions of Ukraine took part in the competition. The most active were the Kharkiv, Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Cherkasy, Dnipropetrovsk, and Mykolaiv regions. Many participants chose the topic of health for their materials (36% of applicants). Most of the submitted materials were in the format of a video (80%). Among the winners there were ten video authors and two podcast authors.
To determine the twelve winners, the organisers made a short list of finalists, which included 30 participants. They were then evaluated by the members of the contest jury according to the following criteria: the suitability of story to topic and format, adherence to journalistic standards and originality.
The winners spent three days in Kyiv, December 20-22. On the first day, they visited the Ukrainian Public Broadcaster’s TV center, the Hromadske newsroom, and the expo of the Kunsht media. Experts Alyona Romaniuk, Iryna Tsybukh and Inna Gadzynska conducted workshops for reporters. On the second day, each participant spent a day with a media professional; the winners worked with journalists from the news and podcast departments of the “Suspilne” broadcaster, Hromadske, Kyiv TV channel, 1+1 TV channel, and STB TV channel.
“Many of the winners told us that after visiting newsrooms and working side by side with journalists, they had decided to devote their professional future to journalism,” Valeria Kovtun, the head of Filter project, emphasised.
On the third day, young reporters visited the newly launched Suspilne newsroom, where they received their awards.
“In my opinion, the contest for high school students who are interested in the profession of a journalist is a wonderful initiative which should be continued,” Taras Shevchenko, Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, said.
Insights. The competition attracted children from both large and small towns. The participants highlighted socially important issues in their stories, such as vaccination, mental health, and environmental protection. They shared stories of their peers and parents; many got inspired by stories of people with disabilities or stories of mutual aid, they also covered acute problems of their communities: water and air pollution, deforestation, etc. Another trend Filter identified among young participants is that most of them feel confident in front of a camera and with a microphone.
What needs to be improved. According to Valeria Kovtun, the participants impressed the team with their creative ideas, however, not all materials met the requirements of the contest, in particular, the main one – to adhere to journalistic standards. Among the problems we highlighted:
The head of Filter project explained: “When a child understands how content is created and what is the correct structure for a journalistic material, she or he can more easily distinguish bad quality news and manipulations. This is how a child’s media literacy level grows”.
Therefore, it is necessary to communicate to children the difference between a journalist and a blogger, to explain that it is not possible to take other people’s materials without permission, and also to motivate young people to experiment within the framework of journalism, to deviate from old school story templates.
What’s next? The partners, who participated in the press conference, agreed that the idea of the competition should be developed. They offered their options for cooperation.
“Stories from the regions, which the winners can tell, play a special role for us. They become our agents of critical thinking. We see great potential in this project and in children working for the public broadcaster or international media, telling local stories. The public will be happy to cooperate with the project — to tell the stories of the participants and make modern content on a digital platform,” said Iryna Tsybukh, a media trainer at the Youth MediaLab of Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine. She suggested that the participants submit their stories to the local correspondents of Suspilne.
Halyna Pastukh, deputy executive director of the Analytical Center “Data Journalism Agency” added that Texty.org outlet can offer internships in data journalism to young people and help them with pitching ideas.
Vadym Miskyi, program director at the NGO “Detector Media”, offered participants of Reporter to join the educational programs, in particular, on responsible blogging.
Olesya Bida, member of the jury of the contest, a journalist of Hromadske.ua and a mentor of regional reporters in the Journalism of Tolerance program, offered to maintain contact with the participants by inviting experienced journalists to interact with a newly established community of young reporters.