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Troç - The Young Reporter of Albania

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Snapshot
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Organization

UNICEF
Albanian National Television

Contact details

UNICEF Albania
Anila Miria
Assistant Communication Officer
Phone: +355 4 375 293 extension 206
Email: amiria@unicef.org

Project website

Enkela Qinomi
Albanian National Television
Email: Shkruajtroc@yahoo.com

Project partners

UNICEF
Albanian National Television

Location

Albania, (Ballsh, Elbasan, Gjirokastra, Lushnje, Korca, Kukes, Tirana, Shkodra, Peshkpje, Durres and Vlora)

Background

Polls show that 44 per cent of Albanian youth would like to leave the country to live in Europe and North America. There have been almost 10 years of conflict, anarchy, unstable government, the collapse of schools and the most severely degraded infrastructure in Europe, bringing in its wake massive corruption, widespread insecurity, organized crime and constant violence. UNICEF reasoned that emergency action was needed to encourage Albanian young to focus on making improvements in their own country, starting with their local communities.

Realizing that there had never been anything in Albanian history to teach people how to develop an open and democratic society, we decided to use the medium of TV journalism to demonstrate in a visual and powerful way the basic component of such societies - fact-finding, discussion of issues, gathering different opinions, debate and, most importantly, giving young people a leading role in fighting for change.

UNICEF had a pre-existing cooperation agreement with the children's department of Albanian National TV, which was not producing many results. UNICEF discussed the Young Reporters concept with the children's department producers and there was extensive agreement on the idea. The department had been trying to develop a similar concept with a humorous/tokenistic approach without success. When we presented the idea of using child participation, they were excited, and the management of Albanian National TV were supportive. UNICEF introduced the idea of children being in charge of the filming and story selection, and although there was scepticism at first, the immediate success of the training generated the confidence to move forward.

Aims and objectives

Troç was developed by UNICEF and Albanian National TV to help young Albanians:

• develop a sense of meaningful participation in the development of their country;

• build a bridge between the views of young people and adult decision makers;

• nurture the growth of free and independent media;

• guarantee the right of participation by young people and demonstrate the importance of listening to young people.

Troç was also a tentative reaction to the fact that a lot of young people try to leave the country for economic and social reasons.

Participants

About 40-50 children between the ages of 13 and 18 are involved. A precise number is hard to calculate because in some locations new children are joining what we call 'Youth Video Bureaux' all the time, while others graduate from high school and move away. UNICEF has contracted with local community organizations to provide an adult facilitator to guide the work of the Young Reporters.

The local organization and/or facilitator chooses the children who participate. Initially these organizations were asked to select children to participate who had some aptitude for communication, public speaking or writing. Though we knew that this would mean selecting the more academically successful students, we decided to do this because we did not know if it would be possible for children to learn the technology well enough to sustain the quality required for a TV programme that would be broadcast nationally.

The bureaux are located in every region of Albania from the most remote small towns to the main cities, representing a huge variety of geographic and socio- economic backgrounds.

Wider beneficiaries

Although Albania does not have a system for measuring media audiences, positive feedback, even from neighbouring countries, has been gratifying. Many viewers - young people and adults - enjoy the fresh perspective and say Troç is the first socially responsive television show and the only national programme that provides a perspective from all corners of the country every week. Troç is viewed in Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro and is also transmitted by satellite to North America.

Involvement of children

The Young Reporters are responsible for selecting stories, planning production, all filming, conducting interviews, logging video footage, selecting shots, writing scripts, recording narration and submitting raw material to the national TV.

Summary of project

This youth news magazine programme is based on video packages filmed and written by 13-18 years olds in 11 Youth Video Bureaux around the country.

Between 60 and 70 Young Reporters have received up to six days, training, focusing on shooting and framing a stable, editable video picture, selecting a good TV story, conducting a TV interview and writing a TV script or voice-over segment. They are in charge of story selection, research, filming, reporting, interviewing, scripting and narrating the stories.

Eight adult facilitators guide and co-ordinate the after-school youth video bureau work, and two professional television producers conduct in-service training and edit and compile raw footage and voice tracks filed from the bureaux. A very high level of youth participation - young people making decisions with adult facilitation - has been sustained.

The bureaux come together twice a year for an annual meeting and an annual training workshop. They are all friends, and they often visit each other and work together on stories. Sometimes sensitive subjects in one town are covered by reporters from another to make it safer for the Young Reporters.

Funders

UNICEF
Albanian National Television
Government of Italy
Government of the Netherlands.

Strengths of project

• Good coverage of the country.

• Good collaboration with adults in a long-term process.

• Broadcast at national and international level.

• Long-term project.

Challenges

• Need to upgrade and refresh the look and concept of the show after two years on the air.

• Need to locate more sustainable funding through corporate sponsorship.

• Need to diversify programme segments to build viewership in a competitive marketplace.

Evaluation

From its conception, the entire Troç project has emphasized maximum participation of young people: in every aspect of the work, young people are calling the shots and adults are facilitating their vision. This is a very important aspect of Troç's unique style.

Because young people are choosing the stories and determining the shape and style of the programme - always with adult guidance and training to ensure professional standards - the show makes a refreshing break from most of the rest of Albanian TV.

Currently the airwaves in Albania are flooded with imported programmes from Italy and America, and local broadcasters are generally working hard to mimic these styles. The growing number of people who watch Troç enjoy its youthful, relaxed and direct approach. There are no vested interests, no politics, no movies - just straight talk (which is what Troç means).

Lessons learned

The UNICEF project manager says: "We have proved that young people, with no experience and only five days or less of training are capable, using mini DV video cameras, of producing fascinating, entertaining, broadcast-quality TV.

• "We have proved that real youth participation in the mass-media can work.

• "We have demystified the process and placed control of national broadcasting in the hands of children - and people like to watch what they have to say.

• "Perhaps the biggest strength of the show is its authenticity. In an age when most Albanian TV stations are producing Italian or American copycat programmes, the natural, genuine voice of young people with a refreshing take on things is shining through."

Anecdote

One example of the impact of Troç was a recent package from the regional centre of Korca about the lack of textbooks in high-school classes. When the region's education directorate heard the story, the books were provided in good time for the students to prepare for their final exams.

One of the most encouraging developments in the programme has been the preoccupation of young reporters with celebrating the positive aspects of Albania: its natural beauty, culture and heritage.

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