Towards Youth-Oriented TV Programming
Over forty representatives of youth organizations, TV broadcasters from the Middle East & North Africa and programme-makers from Europe gathered in Amman on 20 and 21 April 2015 to discuss optimal ways to enhance the presence of youth in MENA region media.
The occasion bringing this lively mix of people together was the kick-off conference for “Youth on Screen”, a collaborative initiative of two projects funded by the European Union, NET-MED Youth and MedMedia, both implemented respectively by UNESCO and by a consortium led by BBC Media Action. The “Youth on Screen” initiative is also supported by the Jordan Media Institute and the European Broadcasting Union. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency contributed to its launch event of the initiative.
Here are tidbits of what the conference consisted of...
Among the key issues addressed during this conference were youth media consumption habits, the needs of young audiences, their representation in mainstream media and possibilities of collaboration between civil society organizations and media for the benefit of youth.
“Youth are born in a digital world. They are no longer just passive recipients but also active producers of content," says Imane Bounjara, a Moroccan project coordinator at e-joussour online radio. "The information society has changed, and civil society has understood this…. Television needs to engage into this new dynamic in order to reposition itself and catch up with the rhythm of youth.”
Under the NET-MED Youth project and in partnership with MENA Media Monitoring, intensive media monitoring work had been done. The preliminary findings were presented with a focus on the presence and image of youth in mainstream television in Tunisia and Morocco. The results stimulated the debate even further.
Participants working in mainstream media highlighted the challenges they face when developing youth-focused programs. Ideas were shared on how to capture the attention of young audiences and engage them through cross-media products and through social media interaction, such as the example of the Generation Quoi? project in France. The conference included a specific session where participants examined the financial implications of producing this type of programs, and discussed possible funding sources and marketing strategies.
The heated debates and open-hearted discussions only increased the enthusiasm and willingness of both media and CSOs to work together.
“I think that this can be the start of new, unique TV program and experience," said May Marei, a young Palestinian coordinator of the Voices from Gaza project. "I cannot wait to see the result we could come up with after joining all our efforts and our different backgrounds and rich experiences.”
A panel of participants explored how media and civil society organizations can productively work together by overcoming the lack of trust often existing between them, their diverse agendas and their different approaches to what is “newsworthy”. They finally reached the conclusion that strengthened linkages can bring rewarding results for both: Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) can help media access certain groups and provide content to generate engaging human stories, while media can be instrumental in expanding the reach and appeal of their messages. A fruitful collaboration implies, however, a time investment to build relationships, set the ground rules, share information and understand each other's needs, and more.
“There were creative ideas that have inspired me, and it was a good opportunity for networking,” said Ameni Mabrouk, from Taabir association inTunisia.
The “Youth on Screen” initiative aims at fostering experience sharing while strengthening capacities and enhancing cooperation within and across countries. The initiative is expected to lead to the development of TV programs and multimedia projects that better respond to the needs and aspirations of youth, and that further enable them to connect with each other and exchange their views on topics that concern them.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.