ST wins global award for young reader outreach

Little Red Dot received a gold Journalism Award, one of the categories in the 2021 Global News & Youth Media Prize.
Little Red Dot received a gold Journalism Award, one of the categories in the 2021 Global News & Youth Media Prize.PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Treating schoolchildren as ambassadors for dispelling myths about the Covid-19 pandemic and teaching personal responsibility through games were among the approaches that helped The Straits Times' weekly primary school publication, Little Red Dot, clinch a global award.

It received a gold Journalism Award, one of the categories in the 2021 Global News & Youth Media Prize.

This year's award recognises excellence in coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic for children aged 12 and younger.

Five gold awards were given out in the category, with the others going to News-O-Matic from the United States, Die Zeit from Germany, Kompas.com from Indonesia and Borneavisen from Denmark.

Initiatives by fellow gold award winners included News-O-Matic giving children who acted as junior reporters the chance to question science and medical experts, and Die Zeit organising a joint art project with the International Museum of Children's Art in Oslo, Norway, to collect artwork about the pandemic from children around the world.

Seven silver awards were also given out, to CBC Kids News and Teaching Kids News, both from Canada, Kid Scoop and NBC Nightly News: Kids Edition, both from the US, RTV Infodrom from Slovenia, First News from the United Kingdom and STV Lilla Aktuellt from Sweden.

This year's winners were chosen from 23 shortlisted entries, with entries from all over the world, said the organisers.

The ST Schools team behind Little Red Dot created content for 10- to 12-year-old readers to play a role in fighting misinformation about Covid-19 and spreading awareness within their families and communities.

An example of this was a "Choose your own adventure" game that taught about the impact of small choices one makes in relation to the pandemic. Readers read illustrated scenarios related to Covid-19 and chose how they would react - for instance, whether they would go for a family gathering while feeling unwell - with every option chosen leading to a new scenario.

Said the jury: "We love that The Straits Times maintained a wry touch while promoting social resilience and viewed children as powerful ambassadors of health in their families. The 'Choose your own adventure' game was a truly innovative way to explain right and wrong choices without preaching."

Said Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/Malay/Tamil Media Group, and ST editor: "Our ST Schools team has worked hard over the years to help make the major news events of the day meaningful and relevant to our younger audiences in innovative ways. They have chalked up many international awards and this is another one in recognition of their efforts to connect with and keep engaging our younger readers to help them make sense of the fast changing world they are growing up in."

The ST Schools editor, Ms Serene Luo, said: "The last 1½ years have been challenging for everyone, children too. When it comes to big issues, so often, children are left out.

"We wanted to empower them with information, explain to them what is happening around them, so they can take this home to their families, their parents, their grandparents. When children teach the adults, the adults listen."

This is the ST Schools team's second global award for its pandemic-related content tailored for a young audience. Last year, it clinched first place in the best initiative in response to Covid-19 category in the global/national brands group at the International News Media Association Global Media Awards.

For more information about The Straits Times' student publications, write to cirschool@sph.com.sg.