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Youth Media Team Project (YMT)

for the United Nations World Youth Forum and World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth

Organization

Young Media Partners (YMP). YMP is a worldwide not-for-profit membership association of young journalists in broadcast, print and electronic media. YMP was founded under Swiss law in 1997 with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. YMP has a branch in the United States, organized as a not-for-profit organization in 2000 under California law. YMP's membership of individual journalists (ages 15-25) and youth media groups is rapidly expanding with focal points and regional branches developing in many countries.

YMP's mission is to inform, educate, encourage and support young people in developing and using their media skills to build a world of peace, social justice and equality. It accomplishes this through its Youth Media Intern Program (including its Summer Intern Program in Geneva), projects of its Youth Media Team Program, encouraging ethical and responsible journalism, and advocacy for inclusion of young emerging journalists in youth and mainstream media.

Address and contact details

Debra Grant and Terrayne Crawford, Co-Founder/Directors
Palais des Nations, Salle de Presse 1
CH - 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 839 28 50
Fax: +41 22 840 10 25
Email: youngmedia@youthlink.org
Website: www.youngmediapartners.org

Project partners

Archway School, Stroud, Gloucester, UK
Escola Secundaria No 1, Loures, Portugal
UNICEF

Location

Youth Forum - Braga, Portugal (urban)
Ministerial Conference - Lisbon, Portugal (urban)

Background

In the course of their work as journalists at the United Nations in Geneva, the co-founder/directors of YMP, Terrayne Crawford and Debra Grant learned that the United Nations was convening the World Youth Forum of the United Nations System (WYFUNS) (2-7 August 1998, Braga, Portugal) and World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (8-12 August 1998, Lisbon, Portugal).

YMP members had been invited to and participated in the previous World Youth Forum of the United Nations System (WYFUNS) in Vienna, Austria, as resource people in the Working Group on Youth and Communications and as contributors to UNICEF's Voices of Youth website. YMP had been successful in creating and facilitating several youth media teams in the past, covering UN and other international conferences on issues affecting the lives of children and youth worldwide. In these projects, YMP involves local media and child/youth reporters from the host country, as well as bringing together team members representing diverse cultures and countries.

YMP's intergenerational advisory committee and its co-directors made the decision to organize and facilitate a Youth Media Team to cover both the Youth Forum and Ministerial Conference in Portugal, in an effort to ensure that the concerns, issues, and projects of children and youth were given sufficient coverage in the media, especially from a youth perspective.

Contacts were made through its network of youth, youth organizations and secondary schools, resulting in a school in the United Kingdom and one in Portugal volunteering as partners in the project. A youth facilitator worked with the YMP coordinators in preparing a proposal for and in seeking funding, and in designing the project.

WYFUNS was convened by the United Nations in partnership with the Portuguese National Youth Council. It brought together the United Nations System, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations to discuss enhanced cooperation and communication between the United Nations system and youth and their organizations, and to co-manage follow-up projects.

Youth participants prepared a contribution to the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, which was organized by the Government of Portugal in cooperation with the United Nations. The Ministerial Conference undertook the first global biennial review of the implementation of the United Nations World Program of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond.

Aims and objectives

• To expand media coverage of these events and the issues they addressed through youth-produced media products in broadcast, print and electronic media.

• To provide a means for the voices of youth to be heard within and outside the conference venues (youth reporters as well as youth activists involved with the events).

• To teach the importance of responsible and ethical journalism.

• To provide an opportunity for and to encourage and support democratic participation of young people in the project.

• To promote participation of girls in media awareness and production.

• To provide a hands-on learning experience for young reporters in an international and multicultural setting.

• To help create greater awareness and acceptance of different cultures by engaging youth from various regions in the world as well as those in the host country.

• To demonstrate the effectiveness of an intergenerational model.

• To facilitate greater acceptance of youth-produced media products in mainstream media.

• To increase awareness of the human rights of children and youth.

Participants

• The Youth Media Team comprising two youth from Escola Secundaria no. 1 de Loures (Portugal), two from Archway School, Stroud (UK) and one from a youth organization in Mexico. All team members were girls.

• The Facilitation Team was an inter-generational team composed of YMP's co-directors (Switzerland/USA), a media teacher (Portugal), another from a children's NGO (non-governmental organization) (USA), and a youth mentor from Canada. Their experience covered children and youth participation and rights, media education and production, graphic layout and design, and coordinating youth media teams.

Target audience

Conference participants, members of youth organizations who did not attend, youth-friendly media outlets and local media, including those in Portugal. Particular attention was given to communities represented by youth participants.

Wider beneficiaries

The youth and adults themselves who were involved with the project, as well as youth and adult recipients of the material produced by the Youth Media Team.

Involvement of children

The project was adult initiated and adult and child/youth facilitated. Pre- conference, a youth facilitator was involved with adults in designing the project, as well as drafting the proposal for the project and obtaining funding from UNICEF. The youth also did their own fundraising within their local communities for their participation and made initial contacts with their local media for the project.

At the conferences, young people, as team members and mentors, were involved in all aspects of decision-making as well as creating and disseminating the media products. A process of discussion, consensus building, volunteering and on-going evaluating was utilized for achieving the goals of the project.

Summary of project

A formal invitation and application process was used by YMP for selection of team members. Those who have worked on past YMP projects were given first priority, with additional invitations extended to international, regional and local youth organizations, schools of journalism, secondary schools, and various websites that include youth audiences.

The main activities of the Youth Media Team were reporting on both the Youth Forum and Ministerial Conference and producing articles and photos for dissemination and publication in local and international media. Team members were asked, in advance, to contact their local newspapers, magazines, radio stations, Internet sites and television stations to publish/broadcast material from the events generated by the team. Through YMP's previously established network, as well as new requests for material, contacts were made with mainstream and youth media worldwide. These outlets were asked to publish articles in their newspapers, magazines and websites.

The facilitators assessed team members' media skills, and the youth were given hands-on assistance/training to strengthen their techniques in interviewing, photography, writing and editing articles, and video. They also received guidance in working as a productive team, meeting deadlines, and in creating ethical and responsible media.

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) guided the rationale for and operating principles of the Youth Media Team project, in particular UNCRC Article 13:1:

The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.

This also includes Articles in these documents that encourage equality and democratic participation of children and youth in a meaningful, productive and interactive manner in addressing relevant issues and concerns at local, national and international levels.

The project provided a concrete follow-up to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child theme day, entitled 'Children and Media', held in October 1997, which recommended increased and appropriate participation of children in the media.

The end products were:

• Articles and photos The team submitted articles for both the UNICEF's New York website Voices of Youth and its Geneva regional office website. Articles were requested by, submitted to, and published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) (New York) for their magazine, Populi, and the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) (New York) for Development Update. The InterPressService (IPS) published an article by one of the Portuguese youth correspondents. Articles were also published in newspapers/newsletters in their local communities.

• Video The overall experience was documented on video by one of the youth from the UK, including workshops, plenaries, social activities and interviews with participants.

• Press Pak A media kit, which the Youth Media Team developed and distributed to youth NGOs and members of UN agencies at the end of the conference, to facilitate further outreach of the results of the two meetings and to continue a dialogue on the issues

Partners

The partners from both schools were engaged in the initial stages of announcing the project, encouraging students to apply as members of the team, exploring funding, as well as helping with distribution of the media products in the local community. A media teacher from the Portuguese school participated as a mentor on the Facilitation Team. Both schools gave recognition to those chosen as members of the Youth Media Team.

Funders

UNICEF was one of the major contributors of funding towards the project budget. Youth Media Team members covered the majority of their expenses for travel, accommodation and food, raising funds through their schools, families, and friends.

The Portuguese students and teacher provided accommodation for the team during a portion of the project. The Portuguese National Youth Council (Conselho nacional de Juventude) offset some expenses of Portuguese YMT members.

The YMP coordinators and project partners volunteered their time and covered their own expenses for travel, accommodation and food.

Cost

Youth Media Team project budget

 

 

Budgeted
(US$)

Raised
(US$)

Pre-conference

   

Fees/telecomms/postage

$5,500

donated (YMP)

Conference

   

Transport/accommodation/food

$29,400

$11,600

Facilitating organization fees

$3,100

donated (YMP)

Equipment and materials - computers, printer, micro-cassette recorders, video camera/tripod, scanner, digital cameras, micro-cassetteaudiotapes, Hi-8 or digital videotapes, notepads, pens, paper, diskettes

$5,400

$5,000

Post conference video (20 minutes)/
audio compilations

$7,235

$0

 

 

 

Total

$50,635

$16,600


Strengths of project

The positive experience that the project created for the youth involved was its most important strength. The Youth Media Team gave young people from different cultures and nations a successful and empowering hands-on learning experience in media at major international events. The project provided a significant opportunity for team members to work together in a democratic and supportive environment - sharing, through the media, the social, cultural, economic and political issues discussed at the conferences and of significance to their lives and future. Even with budget limitations, the project achieved its aims and objectives.

Youth Media Team members said they had a wonderful experience. They were particularly pleased to be able to participate as part of a multicultural team learning from their peers and mentors, as well as interviewing people from many countries - youth, ministers and representatives from UN agencies - working in different languages and meeting deadlines. They did extremely well and did much to further the idea that young people (especially teenage girls) can be responsible, serious, and still have fun with the energy required for it all.

Through its work on this particular project YMP initiated ongoing collaboration with both schools involved and with UNICEF, and brought the team members into a wider network of youth journalists. Several team members joined the next YMP Youth Media Team project attending and reporting on the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference in the Netherlands.

Challenges

Funding limitations

• Funding was not provided until after the project was completed, making it necessary for project organizers to cover costs in advance and limit the size of the team.

• Funding received was insufficient to cover entire proposed budget

• Funding limitations prevented the Facilitation Team from travelling to Portugal prior to the conference to prepare more adequately for the Youth Media Team. Team members were scheduled to arrive in Braga two days before the conferences began, for orientation and training, particularly relevant to covering such events.

Logistics

1. Travel between Braga and Lisbon.

2. Limited accommodation in Braga and Lisbon.

Equipment limitations

Lack of equipment and limited on-site facilities for media representatives (computers/printers/Internet access) at both conferences made it impossible for the Young Media Partners website to be fully operational during the conferences. For this reason it was not possible for the YMP website to act as a newswire service as planned.

Technical difficulties

Inconsistent Internet access at both conference sites.

Evaluation

There was no formal evaluation of the project by an outside agency. Opportunity was given at the end of the conference for the team members to evaluate their own as well as the facilitators'/mentors' participation, the process itself, and the quality and number of products produced and disseminated.

Youth members of the team said they learned to do networking; improved their skills in interviewing, writing, editing and photographing; and gained greater self-esteem and confidence in their abilities as budding professional journalists. They also experienced an increase in their awareness of and appreciation for different cultures, as well as the work of the UN system for youth. They were disappointed that there were not more media representatives present, feeling this was due to a lack of interest in issues affecting children and youth. The youth expressed a sense of gratitude for the care and respect the facilitators gave them and for the lessons they learned. The adults on the team shared their delight in the young reporters' creativity, enthusiasm, effective teamwork and quality products.

There was positive feedback from several representatives of UN agencies and other officials involved with the events who remarked on the professionalism of the young journalists. Several times the young reporters made up the majority of journalists at a given press conference and were viewed as serious reporters asking well-informed questions. There was also good feedback from publishers of their materials.

A dossier of material produced by the Youth Media Team was submitted to UNICEF.

Lessons learned

• Supported the belief of the co-directors that children and youth, given the opportunity and assistance, can cooperate and work effectively as members of an international and multicultural team in producing quality media products.

• Gave further support for YMP's approach of utilizing an intergenerational facilitating team as an effective method for designing and implementing a project with youth. Successful youth participation does not always occur spontaneously - many young people would like more guidance and support from experienced peers and adults in the process.

• More advanced planning is needed - at least one year ahead. A larger number and more diverse group of youth could have been involved in creating greater media outreach if the project had been fully funded.

• Even with limited funding and time, a well-executed project can have a positive impact.

• Demonstrated the effectiveness of partnerships between the UN and its agencies, non-governmental organizations, youth and adults, and the media.

• Beneficial to have partnering organizations involved with youth to seek out and support involvement of their own youth in the project.

Sustainability

A project like the Youth Media Team:

• gives visibility to youth journalists as they carry on their tasks within their local communities as well as at international events;

• leads to greater support in the local community for young people as well as encouraging more support by donors for work with youth and media;

• gives an opportunity for youth to be taken seriously by adults (including adult journalists) and other youth as they are seen participating in important events in a substantive way;

• leads to more invitations for meaningful participation of youth (and young journalists).

• promotes youth as producers of ethical and responsible media;

• assists in creating a more positive image of youth in media products;

• inspires more youth to get involved by giving them positive role models and helps them to see the value of their own participation;

• demonstrates the effectiveness of intergenerational teams in a project (adults-youth/youth mentors-younger youth);

• helps give young people a sense of belonging to a worldwide community.

Anecdote

The following interview extract illustrates youth participation in action. Marta Santos Pais (Director, Division of Evaluation, Policy and Planning, UNICEF, New York) interviewed by Catarina Ramao Martins (aged 16), Young Media Partners correspondent at the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, 12 August 1998, Lisbon, Portugal.

Question So as we see, youth have capacities and they can explore them. But supposing that the governments really get to implement the youth policies on global, national, or regional levels, do you believe that the mentality of the population is prepared to accept youth capacities in participation?

Answer The big challenge is to convince the adults that it is important to give a voice to youth and to listen to their opinions, not in a passive way - giving them the opportunity to express themselves and then not taking into account that opinion. On the contrary, they must respect both the points that can be discussed and ones that can't. And they must explain the reason why they can't be followed, because participation is a learning process, both to the youth that propose an idea, and to the adults who have the power to make the decision and can have the decision enriched by a process of dialogue and negotiation. This is valid between groups, youth associations and governmental entities, and also valid at a school level between professors and students. In the same way it is valid in the family, which is the first cell where the democratic experience can take place and in which parents can have a fundamental role, because they must guide their children and support the development of their children and youth.

Question What is the major resistance to youth participation?

Answer It depends on the region, the country, the age, and one's own family. I think that the main problem is to recognize that youth are persons and as persons they have fundamental rights and when we overcome that barrier, we don't look at children and youth as passive elements that should benefit from protection and have nothing to say. If we can overcome that barrier, which is much more concerning mentality than a practical impediment, youth will be able to participate in a better and more efficient manner and have more trust in being able to participate. They will feel like they have something to bring and that something can have a practical follow-up in the adoption of policies by local governments, municipalities, or even by schools.

Good ideas

Press Pak, a media kit which the Youth Media Team developed and distributed to youth NGOs and members of UN agencies at the end of the conference, to facilitate further outreach of the results of the two meetings and to continue a dialogue on the issues.

The Press Pak included five one-page examples of media outreach ideas and suggestions for the youth to spread the information about the events in their country. Some key documents and selected articles from the Youth Media Team were also attached.

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