The situation on our media scene is such that media outlets, primarily media FOR youth created by young people, are almost invisible, economically unsustainable and survive only owing to the immense will of individuals prepared to invest themselves above and beyond their capacities, believing that they can make a positive change. Support programmes targeting such media outlets are scarce and are often designed without listening to the youth newsrooms and their actual needs, but are instead created by media experts based on their own beliefs and conceptions about what youth media outlets should look like. The media situation is constantly changing, and trends are changing, while the programmes offered are often outdated or do not fit the reality of a small and primarily voluntary-work-based newsroom, which is the main feature of the majority of youth outlets in Serbia.
The Media for All team has continuously been LISTENING to outlets, monitoring their needs and desires, and trying to support them in following the direction they have set for themselves. They do not influence our editorial policy, they do not impose topics and content, they do not present ready-made “recipes” for something that HAS TO BE done, but they simply ask: what is it that you need, and how can we help you? And this is precious.
In the past few years, ever since our outlet became a part of this programme, we have participated in various activities, all of which were quite significant to us. The financial part is naturally important, and without support in the form of small grants we wouldn’t have been able to achieve many of the things we have achieved, not even to purchase the equipment we need for our everyday operations; but even more important is the knowledge we have been given, as well as the opportunities for networking.
We had an opportunity to cooperate across borders and exchange experiences: we were able to learn in London from some phenomenal experts, and we were also able to work with mentors. We found this part most useful as all the sessions addressed the particular challenges that a specific newsroom faces, as well as the development of our ideas and capacities. All practical, all useful.
Moreover, participating in this programme enabled us to explore and work on topics that are important and socially relevant, which, again, is not something seen often – young people getting a grant and having freedom of choice to address “difficult” topics in the scope of the activities. These topics are not of a commercial nature and thus do not bring many clicks. An important aspect of the programme was that the support was not conditioned by quantitative indicators – the number of likes and shares on social media – rather the focus was on the quality of the content produced. Programmes nurturing quality over quantity are rare, and this is the major value of Media for All (and Media for Youth).