Young Reporters’ Network
What is the Young Reporters Network?
In January 2011, UNICEF Tanzania partnered with the Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF) to establish the Young Reporters Network programme. CRF provided training for CSOs, community radio stations and children across Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar to form the Young Reporters Network (YRN), a national consortium of community-based children’s radio projects. The training built capacity for CSOs and community radio stations to mentor youth, manage the project and facilitate child-centred media productions with children, advancing child rights and drawing attention to community issues affecting children.
Young reporters are recruited at the age of 10-16, and attempts are made to ensure balanced participation of boys and girls. While most of the young reporters are from disadvantaged backgrounds, each implementing partner recruits young reporters with varying profiles from the target group it commonly engages with and depending on the local context. Hence young reporters include children living and working in the street, children living with HIV/AIDS, children with albinism and children representing both refugee camps and refugee hosting communities. Attempts to include young reporters with disabilities have not this far been successful.
Through the YRN initiative, to date more than 200 young reporters have the skills to produce weekly radio shows for children and young people across Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar reaching millions of listeners on community and national radio stations with key messages on child rights. The YRN provides an important space for youth participation as well as serves to further develop community journalism in Tanzania. It offers a unique opportunity for Tanzanian youth to share their concerns, experiences, hopes and aspirations, and to effectively participate in bringing about behavior and social change through material featured on traditional and social media. The YRN provides young people with the space, skills and tools to research, develop, produce and disseminate traditional and social media articles, features and programmes that tell their stories (and of their community) and reflect the realities of children and youth in the country. Furthermore, it provides the young reporters with opportunities to develop values, attitudes and skills they need to actively participate and succeed in the spheres of school, family, workplace and community. Working in close collaboration with partner CSOs and radio stations, the trained young reporters gain practical communication skills, leadership skills, critical thinking skills and life skills while stimulating a dialogue among their peers and communities that will help develop the values and attitudes needed to build a society and environment recognizing and respecting child rights as well as prepare them for higher learning/education and career development.
The YRN model has been designed to encourage sustainability, promote active citizenship and community ownership, to build national capacity, to increase the quantity and quality of children’s radio programmes and to ensure child/youth mentorship and participation throughout the process. The goal is to create a model that can be scaled up in each region in Tanzania with support from CSOs, media houses and the private sector to provide trainings, equipment and airtime.