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Young people in Madagascar learn to produce their own newspapers

© UNICEF Madagascar/2004/Clacherty
Young people from four regions of Madagascar gathered to learn how to create their own newspaper.
ANTANANARIVO, 14 July 2004 – In a first for media and children in Madagascar, a group of 40 adolescents aged 12-16 met in the nation’s capital to learn how to create a newspaper.

These young journalists, many of whom are interested in becoming reporters, came from four regions of the country – Mahajanga, Fianarantsoa, Toamasina and Antanananarivo. They spent two days together, learning about journalism from professional editors.

“We come from a very poor village eight hours by road from here,” said Fy from Fianarantsoa. “We have seen the newspaper that our school district produces, but it is not interesting for us. That’s why we want to create our own newspaper, to talk about issues that affect us.”

That’s exactly what Fy and her peers did. Not only did they learn about what makes a newspaper, but they also met with the Editor-in-Chief of the nation’s largest Malagasy daily, the Gazetiko, who guided the children through a typical day at a newspaper. The young people also met with professional photographers, cartoonists and reporters. Volana, from Le Tribune, the largest French-language daily, even led the children through a role-playing exercise on how to conduct an interview.

© UNICEF Madagascar/2004/Clacherty
A young journalist is learning how to take news photos.
“I have never written an article or held a camera in my life,” said Rebecca from Fianarantsoa. “I think I could be a photographer or even a cartoonist when I grow up…who knows, maybe even an Editor-in-Chief!”

UNICEF organized the event with the help of a South African expert on adolescents and the media.

“One of the key rights enshrined in the CRC [Convention on the Rights of the Child] is freedom of expression,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Madagascar Barbara Bentein. “By exposing these young people to media processes and encouraging them to create their own newspapers, we are not only realizing their rights to expression and participation, but hopefully we are also creating a generation of vocal citizens!”

The young people who participated in the programme are now working side by side to produce newspapers and monitor how the media reflects children’s issues.

“By signing a letter of engagement with UNICEF, each club agrees to produce a newspaper highlighting what they think is important, as well as to study how the press covers children’s rights,” emphasized UNICEF Communication Officer Misbah Sheikh.

UNICEF hopes this pilot project will be a model for encouraging the participation of children in the media. “Journalists don’t think that we children read the news, but we do,” said Manda from Mahajanga. “I would like to see more articles about what problems children face in Madagascar, not just about politics, debt and grenades.”



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