Youth is taking over (social) media. Here’s how
Instagram does not only serve taking hundreds of selfies. Small school magazines can live longer than until final exams and Facebook doesn’t need to be used to exchange notes from the last lecture. Young people are redefining the way we use social media…
…and become a new, fresh, technologically savvy type of journalists the world needs. But how exactly are they doing it?
The zine madness which evolved to news on-demand
It started back in the 30s, with the wave of science-fiction fanzines created by passionate readers of this genre. Freedom, independence and this delicious thrill of creating content ‘underground’ started something that we now know as the ‘zines subculture’. Cheap with production, gathering very specific fan groups and a bit random with distribution, zines began to gain more popularity among youth.
Soon those young rebels realized that it’s not only science-fiction, music or art, that’s available for them to write about. The 70s, with its rebellious spirit, gave birth to next decades’ angry journalists-activists, who wrote about feminism, youth empowerment, politics and many more. Not sure though if they considered themselves journalists, or rather ‘rebels who spread the message’… yet the effect was impressive and had an impact until today.
And then, internet happened…
…and completely changed the world. With communication being easier than ever and news being spread from one corner of the world to another in the blink of an eye, journalism became even more exciting. Not any more we had to struggle with long delivery! In the world where things change every minute and news are available to see on a phone, a journalist goes mobile or goes home.
First youth-led, online magazine came to life already in the mid-90s. It was called The Tatoo and started with a strong promise of giving voice to the youth. You can still read The Tatoo’s article in web archive. Feels like suddenly going back to the time of simple HTML pages, when Arial and Times New Roman won the competition for the best (and only!) fonts. Take a look back in years and see how some topics (intolerance, politics, quality of education) simply remain unchanged, even despite the superfast altering world.
(Social) media — THE tool for making youth activism great again
Young journalists are between their early teens and late 20s. They love to write, film, photograph or draw. And they are passionate about sharing their voice to the world. Another thing in common: a media channel which allows them to communicate. Thanks to all those organizations, initiatives, better or worse structured, spread all over the planet, we get to hear opinions, ideas and experiences of youth.
There are many of them. For starters, let’s just mention a few so you can already start following them and enjoying a delightful dose of great insights.
- Voices of Youth by UNICEF. Founded in 1995 by one of the biggest NGO’s in the world, VoY allows any young person to submit an article which tackles topics impacting their environment. VoY’s journalists are talking mainly about education, human rights, health, climate change, gender… and many more. Always with the fresh perspective of somebody who maybe hasn’t got their first job yet, but surely has something important to say.
- Youth Journalism International. One of the oldest non-profit organizations, aiming to develop young journalists. Founded in 1994 with a simple idea to create a space for aspiring content creators to come together and share their experiences and insights. Today UJI connects over 200 writers all around the world, between 12 and 24 years old, who publish articles about educations, world issues, teenage life, culture, sports… Anything which concerns a young, active journalist.
- World’s Largest Lesson by Global Goals. Ever heard about Sustainable Development Goals? It’s the world’s biggest to-do list which consists of 17 main challenges to solve by 2030, such as fighting extreme poverty, bad healthcare or gender inequality. SDG’s movement was started by United Nations back in 2015 and continues to spread the message to everybody, everywhere — starting the spark of good changes in every corner of the planet.
World’s Largest Lesson is one of the initiatives inside the Global Goals communication plan and it’s about reaching every single school in the world with a class about SDGs. When you follow World’s Largest Lesson on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll see plenty of heart-warming photos of kids in almost every country, learning about SDGs and sharing their insights about the topics. By giving awareness, you give power and tools for those young students to become SGD’s Ambassadors — that’s a pretty great word-of-mouth marketing strategy happening there!
- Youth Observer with UN. Nicol Perez, an enthusiastic girl passionate about world issues, is doing a great job as US Youth Observer. She represents the voice of American youth in the conversations with United Nations. Her Instagram photo-relation is full of light yet insightful, interesting posts showing behind-the-scenes life she’s having. Follow her story to get an uplifting dose of news from young reporter’s perspective.
- MaY. Originated from a simple idea of giving voice to the youth and continues with the mission until today. Starting as an online magazine created by youth for youth, MaY evolved to be a world non-profit organization, aiming to develop youth leadership and activism, striving for positive communication with no borders.
How to bring youth in media to the next level?
Now, it is time that young journalists evolve to another form. Yes, internet changed the way we communicate and yes, we are getting more viral, social and wide thanks to new technologies and platforms, but there’s still room to get even louder.
Bottomline: we will not do it alone. That’s why we need to partner with like-minded organizations, companies, institution and governments. When you give voice to the youth, you empower them and give them space to become responsible leaders.