“Super Youth Worker”
De Coninckplein 26, 2060 Antwerp, Belgium
A practice of processes and methods
As a youth organisation and press agency, StampMedia publishes written articles and audiovisual news productions (videos and podcasts, photography). All of the content StampMedia publishes is made by young people (13-26 yrs of age) and reflects their interests, usually underrepresented in the regular media. Our youth workers, four of whom are also professional journalists, accompany our reporters in the process. StampMedia stimulates active citizenship through various projects. In 2024, Belgium will have 4 elections: in June the European, national and regional elections, in October local ones. In general, we see a limited interest and/or fatigue in young people when it comes to politics. They are often cynical and feel left out by decision makers and media. Merging our active citizenship focus with our media production, we are currently preproducing a multicamera talkshow about the elections with a crew of exclusively people under 27. The project is ongoing (Sep 2023 – Oct 2024). At the end of this period, we will have recorded 7 40′ installments, broadcast weekly in snippets of 10′. The challenge is to increase young people’s interest and involvement in society/politics, while learning a media related trade.
StampMedia wants to reinforce young people’s voice. This starts with listening carefully to what they tell us. We often get questions about things that are going on in the world that they find worrying, painful or confusing. When several of them keep coming back to the same subject, we organise evenings to let them either vent their thoughts and emotions and/or we invite experts to explain what is going on. E.g. after the verdict in Sanda Dia’s case, we invited Sanda’s mother’s lawyer to talk with them. The problem is not that young people are not interested, but that they feel neglected by politicians and the media and when they do feature in the news, it is often with conceit, with ‘grown ups’ talking about them rather than with them, or without regard for what interests them. By helping them create their own media product, on their conditions, in what will likely be a politically turbulent year, we hope to help remedy this situation.
For the talkshow, a crew of 16 young volunteers are designing the structure of the episodes, choosing the themes for the installments and dividing the tasks. Every decision is made collectively after debate and discussion. The crew consists of several presenters, reporters, directors, editors, studio managers, camera and sound operators, researchers and guests, which are either young stakeholders (politicians, civil society representatives, etc) or actual members of political parties. The shows will be recorded in our own studios and the crew will be constantly accompanied by our staff, who are thoroughly experienced as professional journalists and media makers but who will not meddle in the decisions.
Throughout the year, StampMedia will offer workshops to the participants to improve their interviewing, technical, presenting, etc. skills. This is part of our permanent curriculum, but for these sessions the focus will be on the task at hand.
As the project is still ongoing, the final results are yet unknown. We do already see an increase in their interest for politics, active citizenship and the journalistic principles and trade. The crew are particularly keen on participating in this project.
We mean to reinforce the participants’ voices, their skills and self confidence, to help them work as a team towards a collective goal, something we already see in these early days of the project. We hope to encourage the participants in discovering their talents but also to try out new things, while stimulating their interest to become active citizens.