Isu Elihle: isiZulu meaning “Great Idea”


To develop competitive, in-depth, high-quality and innovative coverage of children in the media, through the creation of media awards, which will encourage an ethical standard that journalists will adhere to when reporting on children in the media.

“Isu Elihle” is an isiZulu phrase and could be translated into English as a beautiful, great or simply a neat solution.

“The Awards couldn’t have been conceived at a better time than this when the young are again asserting themselves through uprisings like #FeesMustFall and others…these awards also strike at many other stereotypes and seek to ignite a revolution in its own right.”

(Joe Thloloe, Director in the South African Press Council.)

The Isu Elihle Awards were launched in 2016 by MMA with the support of Save the Children International, the Swedish International Development Agency and Media Network on Child Rights Development (MNCRD) based in Zambia. The awards seek to contribute to a change in attitudes and behaviors of opinion and decision-makers and citizens across the country and continent from the premise that the media frames debates in society and carries enormous influence and, therefore, ability to drive positive change.

The media can play an important role in protecting and promoting children’s rights and, in many instances, in exposing their abuses and triumphs. This is informed by the belief that children are not a homogenous group and deserve protection of their rights in all stages of their lives from early childhood development right up until they are legally considered to be adults.

However, satisfying the public’s right to hear stories about and affecting children, while at the same time respecting children’s rights to privacy and dignity, is a delicate and difficult balancing act. Along with ethical dilemmas of an extraordinarily complex and diverse nature, journalists who may attempt to report on children are often confronted with a myriad of challenges including:

  • A lack of resources, both time and technical means, to conduct adequate research for stories,
  • Challenging existing media methods for reporting on children, through investigative and fresh approaches to news practices,
  • Inherent views within newsrooms where children are seldom seen as target audiences for news media;

The Isu Elihle Awards therefore aim to encourage alternative thinking around reporting on children, and to contribute to an environment that enables journalists to expose and highlight issues affecting children in the country and the continent.

The Isu Elihle Mandy Rossouw Accountability Category

On 08 March 2018 Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) honoured the legacy of Mandy Rossouw through the launch of an awards category dedicated to the memory of the esteemed journalist who passed away in 2013. It is because of her dedication towards holding the powerful to account that MMA was inspired to include a category within Isu Elihle Awards for those journalists in the competition who show remarkable bravery towards holding governments and relevant institutions accountable to ensure that the rights of children on the continent are met.  

Media professionals are invited to submit original story ideas on child-related issues that they would like to explore in their reporting to be published on any mainstream news media platform of their choice.

Each applicant will be required to enter into an agreement with a newsroom of their choice to be eligible for the competition. This means that the onus is on the journalist to approach the newsroom which in turn has to commit to publishing the content should the journalist’s story idea be selected.

The submissions will go through a selection process, undertaken by a panel of judges made up of children and representatives from MMA. The six story ideas will then be selected with an emphasis being placed on their originality and creativity. Concepts that will foreground children’s participation and/or help to challenge common stereotypes about the roles of children in the media and society will be prioritised.

Following the judging process, the top six finalists will then be announced during an Awards ceremony where local and international media and relevant stakeholders will be invited to attend. The ceremony will be used as an opportunity to further promote the issues investigated by the finalists.  Each journalist will then receive financial support to research and develop their concepts which will then be published or broadcast by the committed media before a given deadline.

The final submitted stories will then be ranked and each winner will receive cash prizes for their work.