|Volunteers and staff gather for an editorial meeting to plan content for ‘The Youth Times’ newspaper in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.|
NEW YORK, USA, 25 June 2009 – Although much of the news from the Occupied Palestinian Territory is focused on violence and conflict, there is different, yet just as important, reporting happening on the ground in the region – reporting from a distinctly youth perspective.
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‘The Youth Times’, a project of the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALARA), is a monthly 24-page newspaper published in Arabic and English by young people, for young people. It is the only Palestinian newspaper for youth that is distributed throughout the territory.
Through a comprehensive training program, ‘The Youth Times’ develops young people aged 14 to 25 into leaders while providing both Palestinian and international audiences with vital stories that speak across borders.
‘Hot topics’ for young Palestinians
When Palestinian young people get together – just like their peers the world over – they want to talk music, movies and fashion. In the offices of PYALARA and ‘The Youth Times’, teens not only get to talk about these topics but are also given the opportunity to report and write on them.
Music and fashion are just two of the topics that the young contributors write about. They also cover local politics and problems in their communities. A recent story focused on the horrific experiences of women during an attack on the neighbourhood of Al-Zaiton in the eastern Gaza Strip. In the same issue, an editorial by two 14-year-olds – entitled ‘PUNKS…When Today’s Teens Live the 70s’ – discussed ‘punk’ aesthetics and what it meant for young Palestinians to adopt this style.
No matter what the subject, however, the most important element is that the stories told in ‘The Youth Times’ are diverse and focus on topics of interest to youth.
The monthly publication consists of several thematic sections, including pages on the economy, politics, sports, arts and literature, health and education. Every issue also features a centre section on a different ‘hot topic’ for youth. The majority of the articles are written by youth volunteers and edited by staff.
An inclusive production process
Production of the newspaper begins at a monthly meeting with the young writers in several locations: Gaza, Nablus, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem. About 20 volunteers attend each meeting to brainstorm about main topics and new trends. The meeting is facilitated by staff sub-editors, who follow up with volunteers as they conduct research, do interviews and write stories.
All of the major decisions about the content of each issue, including layout and photographs, are made during these monthly editorial meetings.
PYALARA believes in giving youth volunteers as much responsibility and input as possible. It begins with training that fosters dynamic and versatile thinking – while also developing leadership skills based on positive change and open communication.
The long-term impact on young people is an integral part of PYALARA’s vision. Almost half of the association’s 30-person staff consists of former youth volunteers.
PYALARA Communications Officer Eman Sharabati, 23, began volunteering when she was 17: “It’s really given me this power to be an active person in this society, and to think more about the problems that we should work on as young people,” she says.
‘The Youth Times’ hopes to expand its network of youth reporters globally, using the newspaper to strengthen international relations among young people, and continuing to participate in a worldwide effort supporting youth rights.
UNICEF Radio reports on ‘The Youth Times’, a newspaper by Palestinian children, for Palestinian children.