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Reporting development

Interview: André Leslie
August 14, 2013

The German Development Media Awards are just about to be announced, acknowledging top journalism from around the globe. As one of the jury members for the prize explains, development news remains under-reported.

German Development Media Awards jury member and Welthungerhilfe spokesperson, Simone Pott Bild: DW Akademie / Die Welthungerhilfe hat das Copyright an die DW übertragen
Image: Welthungerhilfe

DW: For the first time this year the German Development Media Awards were open to journalists from across the globe, not just to those inside of Germany. You received some 1,000 entries from over 100 countries. How difficult was it to decide on the winners?

Simone Pott: It was very difficult. When we were sitting together in Berlin, in July, it was very difficult to choose between the reports. All of them were good, and all of them deserved to win a prize. But in the end the ones we chose had something extra special about them. They tried to take a very detailed look at the problem on which they were focusing and, at the same time, they offered some hope that things could be changed.

Do you think that development issues are covered enough in Germany, or around the world?

No, they are not covered enough because otherwise we wouldn't have the situation we see in some of the countries. If there was more coverage and media attention then things might already have changed there. That is why these journalists are so important, because in their own countries they try to focus on problems and situations where people in need are not treated the way they should be treated.

It seems that reporting on development and human rights issues is sometimes avoided because it doesn't give media organizations the headlines they want. Would you agree?

German Development Media Awards promotional banner

Yes, in a way, their place is very niche. If a special program on development exists, then you will find these kinds of stories. The problem is that we haven't realized yet that the issue of development is important to us all in our daily life, every day and all around the world. So, development is not a question of a special program, it should be part of our daily life.

You are part of the jury, which report really made an impression on you?

For me personally, the report documenting the situation of disabled young people in Jordan was very, very special. I know Jordan because I have lived there and for me to read about these youngsters from this young Jordanian journalist, who went into these places and saw what happened to disabled young people in Jordan, it really touched me. This is not the sort of thing that you would see in most media. All of the pieces of work we got were from countries and on subjects which would have made it difficult for those reports to have been realized. All of them were from countries where freedom of speech, or freedom of press is not totally normal. There were pieces about gay and lesbian lifestyles in Africa, reports about environmental issues, pieces about disabled people in Arab countries, or the working conditions of poor people in Asia.

Do you think then there will be more coverage on these issues in these countries in the future or are there still challenges ahead?

I think there will definitely still be challenges. Freedom of press is one of the biggest. The question of security and working conditions is also an issue. Many of these stories were very sad and told stories about major problems in their respective countries. You felt that most of these societies still had a long way to go. But on the other hand, the fact that there were reports on the issues at all showed that there is a broad awareness of these problems, and that journalists are willing to tackle these problems.

Simone Pott is from the German NGO "Welthungerhilfe" and was a jury member for this year's German Development Media Awards. The prize is presented by Deutsche Welle and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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