Creating a Network of Young Reporters in Armenia
The project sought to empower youth and increase their civic participation and the building of a more democratic society through the development of their media skills. Its intended outcomes were to: 1) increase civic and media literacy among regional youth; and, 2) increase the participation of youth in information creation, production and distribution. Its activities intended to 1) increase the capacity of 300 youth in media and journalism through workshops, mentoring and peer teaching; 2) use media as a tool for empowerment by combining social media with professional journalism to strengthen the voice of participating youth; and, 3) connect the youth through a young reporters’ network to organize joint projects and serve as role models.
Lessons from Project
Projects conceived, planned, designed, implemented, and monitored in equal partnership with national and local media partners have an increased success rate. The grantee’s ability to adapt its strategy through careful review of local partners’ feedback was essential for the success of this project.
Software and tools developed in a project may have different applications beyond the initial concept. In spite of the issues linked to different understandings of “Maidan” app, the tool has potential to be highly useful and efficient for journalists and other actors alike. It is important for both the grantee and UNDEF to consider other applications of specific software development or upgrades beyond the scope of the project for sustained impact.
A platform allowing journalists to detail the background of their created a consolidated network of like-minded professionals. The project’s “Maidan” platform became a space for journalists, citizen journalists, and engaged individuals to access continuing professional development of contributing to the professionalization of journalism in Jordan and elsewhere.
Introducing stakeholders to data-driven journalism is a good entry point for broader debates on rights issues and interaction with the government.
Awareness raising activities should be strategic as well as tactical, for increased long-term effect. Activities should maximize the number of people reached, and the message should be focused and applied locally. Also include accurate indicators and means of verification in order to assess if there were any changes or impact, positive or negative, foreseen and unforeseen, on democratization.
Networking to gather participants in training sessions should be conducted after there has been clear scoping of potential existing resources. The reliance solely on social media and personal connections limits diversity, and the lack of involvement of the grantee also limits the credibility and legitimacy of trainers to attract participants.
Projects spanning multiple countries should provide a detailed context analysis for each country of implementation. If the organization is not present in the countries where activities are taking place, it should be mandatory to present a partnership strategy.
The grantee did not decentralize its manner of implementation or develop synergies with potential local partners and youth efforts which could have increased project efficiencies and added value to the project. The grantee implemented all of the trainings itself, using its existing staff and volunteers, some of whom they were able to hire then under the project as almost full-time tutors. There were no programmatic partnerships evident with local organizations or media outlets in the different regions which could have facilitated the grantee’s work and provided for continuity of effort with the youth when the grantee was not present or which could have helped to develop the links between the youth and their media products and the higher level democratic outcomes sought.
The project lost relevance in implementation to achieving its development objectives as it focused on media skills and products and did not directly address the issues of youth participation, rights or democratization issues in Armenia. Although some youth showed full ownership and were substantially integrated into the project activities, others were not due to the intermittent nature of the contact. The grantee should increase focus on developing the links between skills training and producing media products and the democratic development outcomes sought.
The grantee paid for the transport costs for children from outlying villages and towns to come to the central locations for the workshops. This allowed for the project to reach youth beyond those in the regional centers. This was an efficient way to reach youth in other areas of Armenia for a Yerevan-based organization. There was positive change in places by the youth asking questions about issues and taking photos and films of it. Many rural villages are small and these types of activities are not usual and would have been noticed.
The grantee had good Google analytical reports on the use of project website. These show that it received more than 18,000 visitors to date and has uploaded more than 1,400 pages. Average time on site is about two minutes. Almost all of the visits originate in Armenia (91 percent) although it is difficult to determine how many visits came from the regions versus the city as most of the internet access from the regions is reportedly made through mobile devices that are registered in Yerevan. The majority of these visits originated through social media channels. The site is also used by the grantee to post the work of its Yerevan students and they access it frequently in trainings to show examples of products.