On 4 and 5 November, young civil society practitioners, representatives from the Jordanian Radio and Television Corporation and Roya TV, regional and international media experts, came together in Amman to discuss how to develop TV programming that more closely reflects the views, concerns and interests of young people.
“What Do Young People Want from Their National Broadcasters?” asked the title of the event. Some questions are often not easy to answer. But once youth join their creativity, passion and energy together, and the moment they find new synergies and partnerships, innovative responses and ideas arise.
“There's something magical about sitting in the same room with all parties working on youth and media,” says Asem Alnatsheh, NET-MED Youth member from Luminus Group’s SAE Institute.
The meeting was organized by two projects funded by the European Union, NET-MED Youth (implemented by UNESCO) and MedMedia (implemented by a consortium led by BBC Media Action), in the framework of the broader “Youth on Screen” initiative, which seeks to enhance young people’s representation in TV content.
“The combination of creative media production and youth is very complex and unpredictable in nature,” says Asem. “But with the right support, the outcomes are surprising, and have real and effective value — one that may trigger a change in behaviors, feelings and emotions, and may thus lead to a better future for the coming generations.”http://en.unesco.org/netmedyouthhttp://www.med-media.eu/en/media-services/single-view/news/youth_on_screen_kicks_off_to_improve_youths_representation_in_tv/#.VkpgomSrR0s
The event allowed youth to share their feedback on different TV programme concepts that could be adapted to their country and region. One sample multimedia format they reviewed was Génération Quoi? (Generation What?), in which youth express their thoughts and feelings about specific issues, some to the camera, and many others through a wide-reaching interactive survey. It was first produced in France and will soon run in several European and other countries. Participants also discussed another TV show concept on the theme of employment.
Not only did this gathering focus on what can be created by and for youth, it also offered the right environment for all participants to reflect on the interaction between media and civil society organizations (CSOs), and on the relevance of nurturing positive linkages between them.
“Working with media outlets is inevitable for NGOs to reach their audience,” says Sami Hourani, NET-MED Youth member from Leaders of Tomorrow. “It is time for them to embed their collaboration with media in the design and structure of their projects”.
Sami and his colleague Almudaffar Shoubaki, as well as representatives of other local CSOs such as the Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre, shared different examples of the projects and activities they are implementing to build and foster links with the media.
Regina Salanova, Communication Manager at the Anna Lindh Foundation, also shared the experience of her organization http://www.annalindhfoundation.org/in promoting self-expression among young leaders and CSO representatives by building capacities for debate through the Young Arab Voices programme, for example. She highlighted the importance of research, strategic communication actions and training to strengthen youth skills for advocacy and message dissemination through the media.
This meeting hosted by the Jordan Media Institute also reserved a little surprise for the participants. The Institute’s founder, Her Royal Highness Princess Rym Ali of Jordan, briefly stopped by to listen to their ideas. She expressed her support to initiatives like these that aim at amplifying youth voices and reflecting their causes in the media.
As a follow-up to the April 2015 launch of “Youth on Screen”, this gathering in Amman is the first in a series of national meetings that will be organized across southern Mediterranean countries. The next one will take place in Palestine on 23 and 24 November 2015.
Tough questions are not always as hard as they may seem. The collaboration of youth and media professionals seems to leave way for a beam of light that could carry with it clues for youth voices to be heard.
The Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth) project is implemented by UNESCO and funded by the European Union. It aims at mainstreaming youth issues and priorities across national decision-making and policy implementation in eastern and western Mediterranean countries by building the capacities of youth and youth organizations and promoting their active engagement in the development and implementation of national policies and strategies on youth, ensuring that youth issues are adequately covered by national and regional media and by identifying workable models for improving youth access to employment and youth inclusion in different sectors.
The “Youth on Screen” initiative’s launch also benefitted from funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.