Young reporters embracing the power of storytelling
A nationwide youth reporter network is generating powerful stories as told through the eyes of children.
February 2013 - Youth in South Africa face a number of challenges – such as teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV and high unemployment. Behind every one of these challenges, however, there are stories to be told, but not only from an adult perspective - children have the right to be heard on issues affecting their lives.
Grade-eleven-learner Tlotlego Maroro is part of a Northern Cape youth radio team hosting a weekly broadcast called “Cracking It”. Tlotlego’s determination is what made him stand out when facilitators were searching for potential youth reporters to join the Young Reporters Network.
At the age of 21 Tlotlego may be much older than his classmates, but he has set his heart on completing his school studies despite difficult circumstances – a true inspiration to other children in his community. He says his radio stories can inspire other youths to also join the initiative.
“I think it is more powerful when it’s youth doing these things. I think I’ll be an example to the other youth.”
A youth empowering platform
The Young Reporters Network has created a platform from which children’s voices can be heard, allowing them to speak on behalf of other youths in South Africa facing similar challenges. The network brings together community based radio stations with the purpose of involving young people in discussions regarding issues that affect their lives.
The programme encourages peer to peer communication by disseminating powerful messages as interpreted by the children themselves. Topics covered range from health and violence to environmental topics.
The “Cracking It” team, of which Tlotlego is a founding member, is not afraid to tackle their community’s challenges head on. They believe in the power of storytelling to make an impact among youth in their community.
“I want to see the youth in South Africa be the best this country can produce and see the number of teenage pregnancies become less in our community,” says Tlotlego.
Twelve South African community radio stations boast teams of youth reporters broadcasting stories on a weekly basis. More than 500 children are currently on board as youth reporters. Their weekly youth programme broadcasts demonstrate the youth reporters’ skills to not only interview subjects on a range of topics, but also their ability to translate information into compelling stories.
Youth reporters share their broadcasts and stories online. They make use of online distribution platforms like SoundCloud and Facebook – extending their reach beyond the live and pre-recorded broadcasts.