Why do so many award-winning journalists write for World and Media?

Women return from a day foraging in the forest. The Ba’Aka people of the Congo Basin are among the most well known representatives of an ancient hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Their lives and well-being are linked intimately with the forest. Photo: Lar Boland, supported by the Simon Cumbers Media Fund.

Every journalist that has produced original work for worldandmedia.com to date has won an award - for their work for us, or for their prior or subsequent writing: Niamh Griffin, Senan Hogan, Joe Humphreys, Sally Hayden, Ruairi Kavanagh, Paul Loughran, Joseph O'Connor, David Ralph, Lar Boland and Didem Tati (forthcoming). Why is this, and why have so many of those journalists contacted us with story ideas?

We would like to think that the quality of our service attracts high-quality journalists. We have over a hundred subscribers working in the Irish media, as well as journalists and editors working for the BBC, the Guardian, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, Al Araby, Sky News Arabia, IRIN, the BBC World Service, Independent Online (South Africa), The Nation (Kenya), The Express Tribune (Pakistan), New Age (Bangladesh), and Nouvel Horizon (Mali).

We would also like to think that the advice we offer to journalists that write for us, or who contact us for assistance with work they are doing for another publication, is of some benefit.

More importantly, perhaps, several of the excellent journalists that have written for us have kindly proselytised on our behalf to other journalists.

There is one common factor, however. They have all received awards from the Simon Cumbers Media Fund. The fund was set up in memory of Irish journalist Simon Cumbers who was shot dead in Saudi Arabia while working with the BBC. The Irish Aid-funded scheme is a fantastic one, in our view. It has supported a lot of superb journalism and it has helped journalists to overcome one of the biggest barriers to writing about international development – the cost of travel.

World and Media was set up with a very similar purpose: to make it easier for journalists to produce high-quality development coverage.

The scheme has two deadlines each year. For international and Irish journalists, our service and online resources (including diary announcements of funding opportunities) are available to journalists all year round (sign-up for updates here). We are always open to story pitches from journalists at any stage in their career and from any country, whether they are applying for funding or not. We also welcome analysis and opinion pieces related to international development and/or its media coverage from those with something interesting to say - whether journalists, academics, aid workers and/or voices from developing countries.

Growth. Huh. What is it good for? Absolute poverty

Mphatso Gumulira, 15, with her son Zayitwa in the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. If it continues, Malawi's current economic growth rate of around 6% may improve Zayitwa's prospects. Yet, Malawi's GNI per capita increased very slowly between 1980 and 2012, but life expectancy increased by over 10 years and expected years of schooling has more than doubled in the same period. Photo: DFID.

Kenya and Ireland are leading current discussions on sustainable development targets for the next 15 years. One of the proposed targets is to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Whether that and the other goals will be met will depend to a significant extent on the pace and nature of economic growth in India and sub-Saharan Africa.

Probably every Western country has one or two newspapers that depict it as besieged by immigrants, crime and/or antisocial youths. What is strange about foreign news is that the overwhelming majority of national media proudly convey an image of the world going to hell in a handbasket. The truth is far more positive – so far.

One simple statistic which captures what has happened to human well-being between 1980 and 2013, is that average global life expectancy went from 59 to 71. That progress is extraordinary and has no parallel in human history. Life expectancy at birth in China is now 75. India's life expectancy is 66 – the same as China's in 1980 – up from 55 in 1980.

In the same period, the global economy has more than trebled. So, does growth explain the improvement in life expectancy? According to UNDP data, Chinese GNI per capita increased by over 1400% between 1980 and 2012. India's GNI per capita increased by a more modest 273% in the same period. However, India's improvement in life expectancy was comparable to China's (it increased by much more but started from a lower base). The rest of the global economy grew a bit more slowly than India, but achieved a similar jump in life expectancy.

The most direct cause of rising life expectancy has been the dramatic reduction in child mortality in recent decades. Success in reducing child mortality has been uneven, however. There has been slower progress in reducing death associated with childbirth, even though millions of lives could be saved at low-cost. According to the WHO:

'Every year nearly 41% of all under-five child deaths are among newborn infants, babies in their first 28 days of life or the neonatal period. Three quarters of all newborn deaths occur in the first week of life… Almost 3 million of all the babies who die each year can be saved with low-tech, low-cost care.'