Young people need reliable information about what is happening in the world and their immediate vicinity. This enables them to make informed decisions and stand up for issues that concern them, now and in the future.
Almost 40 percent of the world’s population is under 25 years’ old. The vast majority of this group lives in Africa, Asia or Latin America, in countries that are dealing with poverty and a high level of youth unemployment. Although it is their future that is on the line, these young people are barely heard by the older generations and decision makers. In the newspaper, on television and radio they are rarely addressed, let alone consulted. Young people therefore have little say on issues that determine their future, like climate change, armed conflict, employment and democracy.
At the same time, young people are spending more and more time on social media. Here, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between reliable coverage and fake news. It is crucial that young people are capable of filtering the stream of news coming at them. This makes them less susceptible to inflammatory messages that entice recklessness like extremism, migration or fast money through the criminal circuit.
The pillars of our youth programme
We identify three important pillars that are always reflected in our youth programme:
- Access to reliable information: Young people need reliable and objective information to make informed decisions about their future. Free Press Unlimited works with local media partners on relevant, factual programmes for and with young people. These programmes for television, radio or online, advance the interests and opinions of young people and resonate with their scope of experience. For example, we support radio programmes on sexuality, for and by young people in the Central African Republic and Congo.
- Media literacy: Young people must learn to understand why certain reports are broadcast and how media work, in print, on television and online. Free Press Unlimited’s programmes contribute to the media literacy of young people. Our partners teach young people how media and journalism work, but also how to act responsibly with the information they send and receive. For example, in Bangladesh we did this by supporting media lessons for high school students.
- Visibility in the media: Free Press Unlimited supports media (organisations) that actively involve young people. Only when the opinions and ideas of young people are heard, when they can stand up for their rights and participate in society, can they have a real say in their own future. In Tunisia, we train teenagers to become citizen journalists who use radio programmes and video reports on national television to draw attention to topics that are important to them.