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WASHINGTON, (IPS) - A U.S. Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, a television news reporter from the Philippines and a radio show host from Cameroon were among the 12 recipients of the Population Institute's 28th Annual Global Media Awards for Excellence in Population Reporting.
"We have been systematically ignoring the impact of media," Jose Rimon, senior deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Centre for Communication Programmes, told IPS at a ceremony held at the Rayburn House of Representatives Office Building here.
"In all studies I have seen, mass media is more cost-effective than community-level work," Rimon said.
"These Global Media Award recipients have helped to create public awareness of population issues through their dedicated efforts," said Lawrence Smith, president of the Population Institute. "We are hoping that these awards will direct much-needed attention to the importance of reducing rapid human growth and achieving a world population in balance with a healthy global environment."
Rapid population growth causes or exacerbates poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, economic stagnation, resource depletion, disease and illiteracy, Smith stressed.
Each year, the world population -- currently at 6.6 billion people -- grows by nearly 80 million, according to U.N. estimates.
"Family planning can impact on maternal and child mortality," said Scott Radloff, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Office of Population and Reproductive Health.
Speaking ahead of the award presentation, Radloff stressed that, "There is a high percentage of women in developing countries that do not have access to family planning."
According to USAID figures, there are 25 million abortions annually in the world. "The average woman in Georgia has 3.5 abortions," Radloff said.
"Youth Alert! Real Man/Real Woman," a music video special produced by the Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) programme of Malawi, was the winner in the Best Combined Media Effort category. The winning entry was launched as a mass media and interpersonal communications campaign to encourage Malawian youth to delay their sexual debut. BCC is funded by USAID.
Since 2001, the U.S. Congress has apportioned funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), but the George W. Bush Administration has blocked it. In 2006, the administration withheld 127 million dollars from UNFPA. The cuts were prompted by the charge that UNFPA was supporting and promoting abortions in China.
"UNFPA does not support abortion, neither in China nor anywhere else in the world," a UNFPA spokesman told IPS.
"The funds apportioned by Congress that do not go to UNFPA are used for USAID family planning programmes," Radloff told IPS.
Other winners of the 2007 Global Media Awards include:
Jim Motavalli, editor of the national environmental bimonthly, EMagazine, received the Best Magazine Article award for his comprehensive report showing that falling birth rates are not universal and that, while declining in industrialised countries, they remain high in many countries in Africa and the Middle East.
MelClaire Sy Delfin, a television reporter with the Philippines' GMA Network, Inc., won in the Best Individual Reporting category, for two in-depth investigative reports, "The Forbidden Games Filipino Children Play" and "When Wells Run Dry: A Tragedy Looming Large."
Inter Press Service (IPS), headquartered in Rome, Italy, was cited as the Most Conscientious News Service for its news and analyses of events and global processes affecting the economic, social and political development of people and nations, including the consequences of high fertility in the world's poorest countries.
The Best Editorial Support award was presented to The Vancouver Sun, British Columbia, Canada, for its support of population, environmental and development issues. An example is the Apr. 18, 2007 editorial, "War against poverty shows some successes," which convincingly links overwhelming poverty in the southern hemisphere with rapid population growth.
Ben Merens, host of the Wisconsin Public Radio Ideas Network programme, "At Issue with Ben Merens," was recognised for the Best Radio Talk Show. The programme is dedicated to in-depth examinations of current events and hard news through interviews with expert guests, policymakers, commentators and authors.
The Population Media Centre of Shelburne, Vermont, was recognised as the Best Electronic Communications Service for its original entertainment-education television and radio dramas, featuring family planning, gender equality and reproductive health issues.
Joel Pett, an editorial cartoonist who has been with the Lexington, Kentucky Herald-Leader since 1984, was recognised for a number of his cartoons on population issues that have appeared in hundreds of U.S. newspapers and magazines.
Enie Cecile of Cameroon received the Best Electronic Commentary award for her show, "Social Forum," which raises awareness of a wide range of population and environmental issues.
Newsweek magazine science columnist Sharon Begley was honoured for Best Population/Environmental Reporting Effort for her article, "Global Warming Deniers: A Well-Funded Machine," which appeared in the Aug. 6, 2007 edition of the magazine. Her report underscores the preponderance of scientific evidence that human activity is the primary catalyst behind global warming.
RH Reality Check received the Best Electronic Forum award for its commitment to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights. The web site is an easily accessible online resource for evidence-based information, provocative commentary and interactive dialogue on these issues.
Dr. Richard Grossman, a Colorado gynecologist and columnist for the Durango Herald, was been named Best Columnist for his provocative long-running "Population Matters" columns.