Building capacities to monitor youth’s representation in media coverage in the Maghreb
From 15 to 20 December 2014, in Tunis, sixteen representatives of organizations working on youth issues in the Maghreb discussed a methodology to monitor the image of young women and men in media, as well as the extent to which it represents their voices, and learned how to put it in practice.
Participants were brought together through a workshop organized by UNESCO in partnership with MENA Media Monitoring, under the framework of the Networks of Mediterranean Youth Project (NET-MED Youth), which is funded by the European Union and implemented in 10 countries from the Western and Eastern Basins of the Mediterranean Sea.
Following-up the formal launch of NET-MED Youth Working Groups in Morocco on 22-23 November and in Tunisia on 5-6 December, the aim is now set on gathering concrete evidence on which to build the different activities foreseen under the media axis of the project.
To implement media monitoring “is to learn to observe, to look at things from a more logical and objective way...” stated Jihen Ayed, responsible of media and communication at Tun’Act in Tunisia. She noted that the training taught her to look into media, deep inside, concluding that “we could never improve media and ensure youth’s participation if we don’t look for weak points [in media], and monitoring enables such search”
Media monitoring efforts will be complemented by a survey on youth perceptions about media, both to be undertaken at the country level early 2015. The findings of this research will feed into a youth-led outreach strategy seeking to mobilize media so that young peoples’ concerns and perspectives are better reflected in the coverage produced, particularly in support of their participation in the elaboration, review and implementation of public policies with a special impact on youth. Similar efforts are also expected to take place in different NET-MED Youth target countries, leading to transnational sharing of knowledge and expertise: towards an improved media portrayal of youth in the Southern Mediterranean.
Workshop participants became central contributors to the definition of a methodology that they later applied through practical exercises focused on the observation of radio and TV content from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Adel Boucherguine, from the Ligue Algérienne pour la defense des droits de l’ homme highlighted the utility of media monitoring under the NET-MED Youth project, since it allows young people from the region to learn how media function, deepens their knowledge on the way media treats information, and sheds light on media’s coverage of different contexts and themes, notably in relation to the representation of youth and women. It permits young people to observe these aspects “in a scientific and objective manner”, he added.
Thus, those taking part of the workshop gained new skills that will not only help them as the drivers of the NET-MED Youth project, but will more broadly reinforce their critical and constructive engagement with media outlets, in turn enhancing future advocacy. As put by Mohamed Outahar, who represented the Association Médias et Culture from Morocco: “the knowledge acquired and the techniques that were appropriated by us throughout the week of training, will certainly be a platform upon which we could develop media monitoring projects and create partnerships focused on media monitoring regarding social, cultural, political and religious issues in the Moroccan context”
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