By Nelson Graves

News-Decoder has won a coveted award in a global competition honoring innovative efforts to build stronger news media and to engage young audiences.

One year after launch, our not-for-profit venture won a second prize in the public service category of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers’ (WAN-IFRA) annual World Young Reader contest.

“This is a great, global effort to create original content crafted by young adults and media correspondents around the world,” WAN-IFRA said of News-Decoder in announcing the winners on Monday.

“We loved the ‘decoder’ idea, the webinars (online debates and discussions) and how they embrace all aspects of modern media (text, video and pictures),” it said.

logoFounded in 1948, WAN-IFRA is the foremost global organization of the world’s press, with a network of 3,000 news publishing companies and technology entrepreneurs. Its mission is to defend and promote press freedom, foster innovation and support independent news publishing companies.

In News-Decoder’s submission, we underscored our mission to build a borderless educational community of trust and understanding by bringing millennials together around major themes – conflict, human rights, economic development, equality.

Since we launched our website in mid-2015, we have published 349 posts by 152 authors, including 94 millennials. We have held six webinars on topics ranging from Syria’s civil war to the Panama Papers.

Currently there are 15 academic institutions around the world participating in our pilot program, and we have two webinars set for this month, one on human rights and the other on the Middle East. We are partnering with Global Online Academy to offer a four-week course exploring major global issues and the U.S. presidential election.

The overall winner in WAN-IFRA’s competition was Malaysia’s The Star newspaper for its R.AGE TV video reporting initiative. In the public service category, Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitung of Germany won first prize for helping 2,000 young refugees learn to speak German and understand German culture.

I’d like to offer special thanks for helping News-Decoder win this award:

  • To our correspondents and our youth ambassadors, including our student ambassadors, for the articles, photos and videos that make our website stand out;
  • To the European Pressphoto Agency, the Associated Press and Reuters for the outstanding images that they provide via our special agreements with them and which help make our site distinctive;
  • To Kate Thomas of KBT creative and David Meiklejohn of Budget Fabulous Films for helping to make our pitch to WAN-IFRA compelling and distinctive;
  • To the academic institutions in our pilot program who are helping us shape our service.

How to sustain ourselves in the future?

The WAN-IFRA jury ended its citation for News-Decoder saying: “We hope they can sustain themselves financially in the future.”

Indeed, the funds that donors generously contributed to us in early 2015 through a successful crowd-funding campaign continue to sustain our efforts but will not be enough to help us grow or to guarantee our future.

No one working on the project has been paid, least of all our 152 contributors, and we will need funds to achieve our goal of building a small team of professionals to edit and craft copy; to organize and moderate compelling webinars; and to grow and nurture our network of academic partners around the world.

To this end, we plan a fund-raising campaign before the end of this calendar year. More on that later.

In the meantime, let’s savor the recognition from WAN-IFRA.

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News Decoder UpdatesNews-Decoder wins global news award