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2017 Media Prize for Educational Journalism

2017 Media Prize for Educational Journalism: Deutsche Telekom Stiftung honors winners in Hamburg

Anant Agarwala (DIE ZEIT) wins in the Print category, Timo Großpietsch (NDR Fernsehen) in Audio/Video/Multimedia - Julia Rieger and Josa Mania-Schlegel take home the Young Journalist award - Anna Bühler and Christian Alt (Bayerischer Rundfunk) receive the Special Mention - Awards come with EUR 27,000 cash prize - 120 guests attend the fourth award ceremony in Hamburg

This year, Deutsche Telekom Stiftung's Media Prize for Educational Journalism goes to journalists at NDR Fernsehen, a television station, and DIE ZEIT, a weekly newspaper. Timo Großpietsch accepted his prize for a film on young teachers at the evening award ceremony in Hamburg, while Anant Agarwala received his award for a print article on grade inflation at German high schools. The Young Journalist category had not one, but two winners: Julia Rieger and Josa Mania-Schlegel. Instead of submitting finished products, these candidates wrote up project proposals that they intend to carry out with the prize money. A Special Mention went to Anna Bühler and Christian Alt from Bayerischer Rundfunk for their podcast "Einfach machen" (Simply do it). All told, Deutsche Telekom Stiftung distributed EUR 27,000 in prize money. Cash awards also went to the second- and third-place winners in the Print category.

The Media Prize for Educational Journalism is the only award nationwide that honors contributions to educational journalism. It was established to raise public awareness of educational issues and give educational journalists the appreciation they deserve. The prize has been given out every year since 2014. In early September, the five-member jury chaired by Hans Werner Kilz selected the following prize winners from around 100 total submissions:

Print category:

  • 1st place: Anant Agarwala for "Abi für alle!" (A-Levels for Everyone!) (DIE ZEIT, March 30, 2017)
  • 2nd place: Björn Stephan for "Klassenunterschied" (Class Differences) (SZ-Magazin, July 15, 2016)
  • 3rd place: Florian Güßgen for "Revolution im Klassenzimmer" (Revolution in the Classroom) (stern, October 13, 2016)

Audio/Video/Multimedia category:

  • 1st place: Timo Großpietsch for "Lehrkraft im Vorbereitungsdienst" (Student Teachers) (NDR Fernsehen, November 15, 2016)
  • Special Mention: Anna Bühler and Christian Alt for "Changemaker" (Episode 3 of the podcast "Einfach machen" (Simply do it), BR PULS, November 20, 2016)

Young Journalist category:

  • Winners: Josa Mania-Schlegel for his proposal, "Class of Their Own. Talking with Young Workers," and Julia Rieger for her proposal, "Learning with Your Hands. What Further Education Opportunities Do the Deaf Have after High School?"

The jury's rationale for picking the winners in the three categories:

Print category: Anant Agarwala for "Abi für alle!" (A-Levels for Everyone!) (DIE ZEIT, March 30, 2017)

More and more students in Germany are graduating from high school with an advanced college preparatory diploma similar to the UK's GCE, known as Abitur or simply Abi. Their grades are better, too. How can that be, wonders DIE ZEIT reporter Anant Agarwala. He looks back to 2001, when Germany, reeling from dismal results in the PISA comparative education study, began to rethink its education policies. The author traces the impacts of this policy shift by talking to educational experts, analyzing Abitur assignments, sitting in on remedial classes for college freshmen and visiting a crafts workshop. He concludes that politicians' push for more Abitur graduates inevitably fueled grade inflation at many high schools. This put intense pressure on universities, who complain that incoming freshmen lack basic knowledge, and on businesses, who struggle to find adequate trainees. The jury was particularly impressed by the depth of the author's research and the clarity of his insights. The piece is also beautifully written and immediately captures the reader's imagination with its clever pacing and storyline.

About the author: Anant Agarwala (born 1986) attended Deutsche Journalistenschule in Munich after obtaining a college degree in media and communications studies. He has been an editor in DIE ZEIT's Opportunities bureau since 2015.

Audio/Video/Multimedia category: Timo Großpietsch for "Lehrkraft im Vorbereitungsdienst" (Student Teachers) (NDR Fernsehen, November 15, 2016)

Student teaching is the last, and perhaps most challenging, stage in teacher training. While still enrolled in college, up-and-coming teachers suddenly have to stand in front of a classroom and apply what they've learned in the preceding years. This first-time encounter with reality is often painful, at least initially. Timo Großpietsch follows three student teachers for 18 months. His film sensitively follows the rocky road from teaching greenhorns to self-confident, bona fide educators. Großpietsch treats the teaching profession with respect and admiration. His camera is close enough to record intimate details, but not so close that it disrupts; it almost seems invisible. The jury's verdict: a masterfully crafted work that manages to be moving, touching and encouraging at the same time.

About the author: Timo Großpietsch (born 1977) studied media studies, cultural anthropology, photography and documentary film. He then completed a traineeship at NDR, where he now works as an editor and documentary filmmaker.

Audio/Video/Multimedia Special Mention: Anna Bühler and Christian Alt for "Changemaker" ("Einfach machen" podcast, Episode 3, BR PULS, November 20, 2016)

Would you voluntarily leave your comfort zone to pursue a lifelong dream? Few people do. Most are too risk-averse or end up satisfying others' expectations. Not Marcel. After obtaining an industrial engineering degree, the 26-year-old decides to try something completely different: become an actor in Hollywood. In a podcast entitled "Einfach machen", Anna Bühler and Christian Alt accompany Marcel in his new life. In the award-winning episode "Changemaker", they trace his educational career in Germany, filled with detours and false starts. The jury highlighted the innovative format that cleverly appeals to the target audience and remains at eye and ear level with them. The story is inspiring and conveys a very real sense of Marcel's life. The authors' passion for their work is palpable.

About the authors: Anna Bühler (born 1988) studied communications. She has overseen the network desk at PULS, the young people's channel operated by Bayerischer Rundfunk, since 2013. Christian Alt (born 1988) launched Negativ, an online movie magazine, while majoring in German and philosophy in college. He has been working as a BR reporter since 2014.

Young Journalist category: Julia Rieger for her proposal, "Learning with Your Hands. What Further Education Opportunities Do the Deaf Have after High School?"

Deaf individuals face numerous challenges in our society. They generally have to attend special boarding schools for the hearing impaired in order to graduate high school with a diploma that qualifies them to attend college. After school, they often struggle more than their peers to pursue their dream profession. What options do young hearing-impaired people have when selecting a career? How can they navigate the labor market? Julia Rieger wants to explore these questions in a multimedia blog by following high-schoolers, college students and vocational trainees for an extended period. The demanding subject matter and planned approach impressed the jury. The author has chosen to tackle an important, but underreported social issue. It will be interesting to meet the protagonists that she is going to recruit for her story.

About the author: Julia Rieger (born 1996) studies social science in Düsseldorf, concentrating in media, politics and society. She also freelances for the local desk of the Rheinische Post newspaper.

Josa Mania-Schlegel for his proposal, "Class of Their Own. Talking with Young Workers"

Josa Mania-Schlegel is horrified. Is it possible that all his friends are college graduates? It is: not a single blue-collar background among them. He starts thinking and placing the problem in a larger context. His conclusion: media coverage also focuses largely on topics of interest for college graduates and current students. He decides to leave this bubble. His idea is a podcast where he interviews factory workers under the age of 25 and has them tell their stories and anecdotes about life on the job and after work. In the jury's opinion, the author has chosen to showcase a severely neglected issue that deserves to be heard. The program he has undertaken is well-conceived in many ways. By opting to create a podcast, he has also demonstrated his openness to new reporting formats.

About the author: Josa Mania-Schlegel (born 1991) recently graduated from Deutsche Journalistenschule in Munich and now works for DIE ZEIT in its East bureau.

Pictures of the prize winners to be published around 9 am on October 13 at: www.telekom-stiftung.de/medienpreis 

The jury:

  • Hans Werner Kilz (chairman), former editor-in-chief of Süddeutsche Zeitung and Der Spiegel
  • Prof. Dr. Matthias Degen, Westphalian University of Applied Sciences, Director of the Institute for Journalism and Public Relations
  • Prof. Dr. Heidrun Stöger, University of Regensburg, Chairwoman for School Education
  • Christine Westermann, TV and radio journalist, author, presenter and book critic ("Das Literarische Quartett")
  • Jan-Martin Wiarda, freelance science and educational journalist (Die Zeit, etc.), blogger, author and presenter