A global prize backed by News-Decoder and two board members has gone to a media group in Paraguay for reporting that aimed to save a huge forest.

prize
L-R Aralynn McMane, Jo Weir, Alejandro Valdez, Jasmin Acuna and Nelson Graves after the award ceremony

By Nelson Graves

A digital media group in Paraguay has won an international prize, supported by News-Decoder, for path-breaking reporting that triggered moves to save a huge forest in South America.

El Surtidor accepted The Planet Award on Thursday at a ceremony in Kazakhstan attended by two members of News-Decoder’s governing board, Aralynn McMane and Jo Weir, who created the global prize.

A newspaper in India, Dainik Jagran, took second prize for organizing a silent protest, featuring demonstrators wearing black face masks with drawings of yellow smiles, that convinced authorities to take quick steps to improve air quality in the northern city of Lucknow, one of South Asia’s most polluted cities.

Copenhagen-based Young Reporters for the Environment won third prize for empowering young people around the world to investigate and report on critical environmental issues through different media channels.

The awards marked the second edition of the Global Youth & News Media Prize, created last year by McMane and Weir to celebrate news media work that “serves, supports and both attracts and learns from young audiences”  a mission that parallels News-Decoder’s.

Along with News-Decoder, the Google Digital News Initiative and the European Journalism Centre supported the awards, which were handed out during the Eurasian Media Forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

‘Impactful, innovative and inspiring’

The digital news team at El Surtidor used a 4-part series to tell the story of the Gran Chacos forest, which was losing a hectare of trees every minute. It deployed data-efficient, mobile content that allowed users to quickly find and distribute content by swiping their smartphones.

The sizable young audience that tapped into the colorful series persuaded Paraguay’s new president to take steps to halt the deforestation.

“This project has everything,” the nine-member jury said of the El Surtidor project. “It takes into account the local context young people confront, activates youth civil society with the focus on deforestation and explains why anybody should care. It’s impactful, innovative and inspiring.”

Editor Jasmin Acuna and Director Alejandro Valdez accepted the award for El Surtidor.

Last year, survivors of a mass killing at a U.S. high school and The Guardian newspaper received the inaugural Global Youth and News Media Prize for joint news coverage of a demonstration in favor of gun control.

The next prizes are set to be announced this November at the NewsXchange news media conference in Paris. They will celebrate reporting that has an impact and strengthens media literacy. The deadline for submissions is June 25.


Nelson Graves is the founder of News-Decoder.

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