Troç: Asking the hard questions about Albania’s future
Daytime soap operas, national sporting events, and million-dollar game shows litter the airwaves everywhere in the world. There is one programme however that sets Albania apart and it has become the pride of a country in transition. Troç, or “Straight Talk”, is the youth driven television show for youth, by youth. The show raises the standard on how broadcast journalism is done in Albania, and the reporters are all under the age of 18. Troç is the first of its kind as a national programme with news and viewpoints from 11 bureaus all over Albania.
Troç is a television programme where pressing national issues are courageously discussed in a country where media was censored for 45 years. All of this is accomplished by young people who are not afraid to ask the hard questions, and as a result are creating positive change.
Youth just want their voices heard and that is the exact reason why UNICEF and Albanian National Television (TVSH) co-created Troç.” The first episode was launched in February 2001. Today more than ever, it is time to listen to these young voices. Many issues are affecting the next generation of Albanians (42% of young people are under the age of 19), such as challenges in the education system, high unemployment and pessimism about future opportunities. Often youth issues are overlooked by the general public including government and media. To make matters more alarming, youth participation in the transition process is low.
Troç has set out to engage youth to bring children’s rights issues to the spotlight. Youth volunteers range from 13-18 years old, and they are responsible for a large part of the show’s production. They shoot and report on stories that are important to them, edit footage, and anchor the show—valuable vocational skills. As part of a national movement that is regarded as a legitimate source of information, self-confidence in these young people also increases their understanding that they can make a difference.
It is not just the youth who benefit from producing the show. With 63% of the country’s population watching it is one of the most popular programmes on television. The opportunity to teach and let young people tell their story will have far reaching affects on journalism in Albania. Soon to be seeking careers in the field of media, these youth will set high standards for the way information is disseminated in this country. Troç allows this by raising serious issues and creating a culture of Albanians who discriminate about what they demand from television.
A large scale project like Troç requires the support of funders, which currently include among others the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). To maintain a sustainable program, adult facilitators have also been trained in raising funds. It is estimated that at each of the local bureaus $2500 per year is needed to run Troç. Adult facilitators serve as advocates for the show and seek support from local Albanian corporations. The idea is that Albanian philanthropists will one day take corporate ownership of a project that is specific to Albania, rather than have it funded by international organisations.
The landscape of broadcast journalism is changing in Albania, and so are the issues that it covers. Thanks to the UNICEF supported Troç programme, young people are speaking out and are being heard in a television show that is original, edgy and is nothing but straight talk.