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Journalism for adolescents

A study of the IZI in co-operation with the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung and Medienforschung Bayerischer Rundfunk/ Intendanz

Young people rarely watch information programmes on (public) television. Studies suggest that this is mainly a result of the form of these presentations, and the missing perspectives of young people. In this respect, it should be a primary concern of broadcasting companies to incorporate young people more into the design of programmes.

Journalistic acting as a chance of political education
Similar to the 'newspaper at school' this project aims to get students meeting professional media producers in order to enhance media competence and political education as well as to provide a platform from which youth may participate in public and political discussions. The focal point hereby becomes journalistic action, conceptualisation and co-operation with young people and professional television- and radio-producers.

With reference to individually chosen topics - ranging from experiences at school, via youth culture to concrete meetings with politicians - a journalistic contribution is planned, discussed with professionals and then carried out.

In this process, beginning with an individual approach, the journalistic significance is extracted. In any constructive argument the young people's perspective is supposed to be dominant. At the same time, they experience the necessity to view and display contents from different points of view. In addition to the media competence to be gained by the young, the aim is political education by means of reflection and participation in public discussion. A transfer of topics from school (e.g. final exams, full-day school, integration classes) to the public sphere, i.e. of everyday life topics in school (love, contraception, drugs, etc.), is initiated.

By intensive evaluation, of amongst other factors the "natural communication" during the project's conception, an increase in knowledge about what characterises young people's perspectives is expected. These are significant opportunities for addressing youth and procuring politics as well as a starting point for political education.

Description of the project:
Students in the 10th grade (Gymnasium/higher education, Realschule/secondary education and M10/basic education) set up a concept for a contribution, relevant to young people, for radio and television programmes of Bavarian Broadcasting, and carry it out in co-operation with media-professionals. In an educational unit of 6 hours they learn the project-oriented basics of television and radio journalism with a focus on a topic chosen by them. The sketched contribution is discussed at an editorial meeting with a professional broadcasting author and carried out by a camera, i.e. production team. During the shooting of the film the students participate either in front of the camera as actors, or as assistants behind the camera and the microphones. This contribution will be broadcast within the framework of "Blaateen" (BR -alpha channel) i.e. Bayern 3 (radio). Then again, in another school hour, youth is asked to comment critically on the result. In the pilot project a journalist and a media educator manage this unit in co-operation with the teachers.

The actual structure of an educational unit
Basic unit: in the first educational unit the students fill in a semi-structured questionnaire, which provides them with a first reflection of their media consumption and habits. In the shape of a face-to-face discussion, the young people talk individually about their favourite programmes. According to their levels of performance, and supported by overhead-foils, they learn something about genre concepts and programmes with a special focus on information programmes.

In a second educational unit, the young people are introduced to concrete (video/ radio) samples, get to know different forms of presentation and stylistic feasibility and discuss the relevance of these opportunities for their individual purposes.
In the third educational unit, the students produce a concept for their own contribution from three educational units in total. Via a face-to-face brainstorming session, ideas are gathered and structured later. During teamwork details of presentation forms, styles and necessary practical questions are worked out. The ideas are presented to the entire class. The students present their concepts to a professional and discuss the way to carry them out. In an event outside school, this contribution is put into action. In addition to acting activities, directing assistance and camera assistance are available in co-operation with the authors. Furthermore a trip to the BR studios (Munich-Freimann, Nuremberg, Würzburg) for presenting the contribution is possible. The IZI staff is organising the placements for practical work. As soon as the contribution is ready for broadcasting i.e. broadcast, the young people discuss their own final results again plus the results from another class.

Building block system for tuition
A system of building blocks is available, permitting variations in content density and social shape - referring to the class's performance level. In addition to the six hours, an extension of the time-scale, to days or weeks is possible, and even desirable. Our aim is to test most different forms of putting ideas into practice and to document them in detail. For later planning of educational activities, the teachers are supposed to be provided with various possibilities and practical experiences for their tuition. The pilot project is geographically limited to Bavaria and the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation. The results and the expected method are likely to be put in practice in schools all over Germany. Via the presentation of results and already existing networks the way to a long lasting co-operation is supposed to be opened. The starting points are therefore public corporations, but an extension towards commercial TV is desirable.

Evaluation of the project
According to the starting point of the project the accompanying study's conceptualisation is qualitative, but also includes quantitative procedures. Data - video investigation (during the reception of a concrete programme), participant observation, group discussions - are evaluated (qualitatively) in a content analytic manner. To support the evaluation, the computer software MaxQDA is used. The results of the semi-structured questionnaire are evaluated in a quantitative way.

Pilot project sample:
Area around Munich, Nuremberg and Würzburg, urban and rural areas. N= roughly 500 young people.

Project results
The aim is a classic 'win-win-situation':
The students contribute their perspectives and their concerns to the public discussion of this subject. In terms of the project work, media competence is supported by media criticism and the individual designs contributed, and political action is experienced, for instance, via an experience of journalism and journalistic procedures. The actual participating writers/producers of programmes learn about young people and their points of view concerning specific topics. Based upon the evaluations, material for adult education is developed in order to familiarise other editors with adolescent points of view and to enhance further co-operation with them. The schools supplement their tuition with well-prepared, detailed and tested educational units, which can be adapted both in content and, didactically, in form, towards the preliminaries of the students. The pilot project is scientifically accompanied intensely and evaluated in detail. Via the triangulation of quantitative and qualitative approaches knowledge about youth, their perspectives on media content, their aesthetics etc. is gained.
In addition to the support of media literacy and political education for the 500 participating students, and the 19 contributions being made in co-operation with them, the outcomes of the project are:
The publication of a book about the results of the study. (IZI book series "Edition TELEVIZION"); educational material for teachers/educators concerning the executive side of more media-educational units on the subject of journalism and politics in media and an informative homepage for teachers/educators. Already, in preparation for these outcomes, the domains www.jugendundfernsehen.de and www.jugendfernsehen.de have been reserved, providing information and educating material independent from the IZI as well as small tuition building blocks for teachers concerning media preferences of youth and helpful links.

Adult education building blocks for editors, which consider the perspectives of young people and the opportunities to include them into their journalistic activities are also intended. Video clips deriving from the project are intended to provide a better understanding of young people's perspective in combination with textual building blocks.

Time scale
Pre-phase: August to December 2002
In the pre-phase it was focused on organisational aspects in schools, the introduction of participants (employees, authors, teachers etc.) and the set-up of a variety of media-educational material. Based on this, with 4 classes (3 TV-classes and 1 radio-class) the first unit was executed and pre-tests were evaluated. Naturally the first four contributions are also to be broadcast in the young people programme "Blaateen" i.e. Bavarian television, Third Programme.
Project phase: January 2003 to December 2003
In this year 15 units are to be organised and carried out with 10th graders. The 15 contributions are to be set up and broadcast. The qualitative evaluation is set up parallel to the investigation. The media-educational material will be merged to the existing levels and a homepage built up.
Evaluation phase: January to July 2004
In this period of time the final evaluation will be executed, and the reports as well as media-educational material made ready for publication. The organisation for the project "journalism for young people and from young people" will be set up in the long term.
Post phase: after July 2004
The results were published in "Journalismus mit Jugendlichen für Jugendliche" (only available in German).