NEW YORK — The fifth annual World Hunger Media Awards, scheduled for unveiling at ceremonies Tuesday at the United Nations, indicate a shift in focus this year away from African famine to America's homeless and hungry.
The awards, funded and presented by singer-songwriter Kenny Rogers and his wife, Marianne, were founded by the Rogerses and the late singer-songwriter Harry Chapin to honor journalists who "bring public attention to the issue of world hunger."
This year, $100,000 in prize money went to winners in eight categories.
"The media is fickle," said Kenny Rogers, acknowledging the shift in focus.
Citing the fact that the war against drugs has become the "trendy" issue this year in the media, Rogers said of the annual awards, "You need to keep finding new ways to stimulate consciousness--or guilt--and this is one way that we hope will lead to others."
NBC-TV's "Today" show hosts Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel were the scheduled hosts of this year's awards, seven of which were to books, periodicals, cartoons, photojournalists, films, newspapers, radio, and television that focused on hunger in America.
Last year--the year of USA for Africa and Live Aid--all but two of the 15 awards were made for coverage of hunger in Africa.
This year's award for best television coverage was made to three ABC-TV News reporters/producers, for "Children of Poverty," a two-part series on domestic hunger which was broadcast in October, 1985, on "World News Tonight." They are: Karen Burnes, Susan Aasen, and Richard O'Regan.
Two special judges awards were given to two local television stations: Boston's WNEV-TV for its report on hunger in New England, "Empty Plates . . . Hunger at Home"; and WRAL-TV, in Raleigh, N.C., for a program on hunger in Africa, "Tanzania: A Need Beyond Hunger."
The award for best radio coverage this year was made to National Public Radio, for a report on hunger in the Philippines. There was no award for film coverage presented this year.
"This is not a glamorous issue," said Rogers, adding, "I doubt, for instance, that any (television) network seriously goes out of its way to pursue this issue. And this is the reason behind these awards--to recognize those who do go out of their way to keep the issue alive."