media education for young people to tell their stories

Created in 2012 by two journalists, Priority Expression Zone (ZEP) wants to do media education in a different way. She accompanies young people from all walks of life to give them a place in the media space, by writing their own testimonials. For both workshops, our journalist collaborated with ZEP, and told you about this experience from the inside.

In the Priority Expression Zone (ZEP), there is no question of being “missionary” journalists, who come to give a lesson. Nor is there any question of the rehabilitation of journalism in the eyes of young people who are less knowledgeable. This media, which is also an association, wants to put journalists in the service of young people, so that they can write a testimonial.

High school students, students, young workers, inmates and others of diverse and diverse profiles are given the opportunity to tell their story, in writing or in podcasts. Guided by journalists, they select a life experience, then put it in text or voice. With the goal that their testimony will shed light on society or tell a unique and important story.

Through games, group discussion, and critical feedback on their products, the reporter participated in the production of this testimonial that could then be published on the ZEP website, in a book, or in a media partner (Konbini, Liberation, the Huff Post, Ouest France, Urbania)

Pedagogy and adaptability: what is required to conduct a ZEP workshop

In my – not too far – past as a freelance journalist, I led two workshops for ZEP in Lyon and Villeurbanne, in March and April 2022. The media association, based in Paris, relies on a network of self -employed journalists to provide workshops throughout France.

This is my first experience with media education. Well, not really. A few years ago, in journalism school, I participated in a morning discussion with high school students. The director of our school (who is not a journalist) also improvised a media course, decorated a powerpoint, in front of a class of high school students, around fake news and the work of journalists.

Nothing much to do with what ZEP has to offer. I hosted two very different audiences: a class of high school students-I didn’t miss the bell at 8 a.m. on Friday-and an evening workshop at a hostel for young people- the worker.

Before the workshops, Julie, the editor-in-chief of ZEP informed me by phone, then I also went to attend a workshop in Paris. Confidently though, I intend to follow the plan for five sessions, with game ideas and steps to follow for writing testimonials. In fact, the railroad is just a crutch: getting testimonials written by young people who aren’t used to it requires a lot of improvisation and adaptation.

Through the personal trajectories of young people, look for social issues

The first step is to get young people to follow the process so that they agree to lend themselves to the writing game. It should mean that ZEP wants to give a voice to those who don’t have it in the media and convince them that they have important experiences to share. Above all, it should be explained that we should not judge their way of writing, because for some writing is a form of complexity.

Next, I need to lead the group discussion. Around relatively broad themes (home, school, family, etc.), the purpose was to identify topics relevant to the group of young people in question. For others, it is difficult to talk about themselves in front of the group.

I had to go to each of them to allow everyone to see a story to be told. Here the reporter takes over. Through the job interview I had to find for each person a topic to study.

For high school students, it just got easier. In a setting that remained strict (their French course), they enjoyed a more offbeat moment consisting of writing games and personal tutoring by a reporter. The hardest part is getting them to develop their testimonies.

By age 15, teenagers are not accustomed to writing detailed descriptions or talking about their emotions. Finally, with another journalist, we were able to compile about ten testimonials that were likely to be published on the ZEP website or in partner media. The topics discussed primarily revolve around video games, entertainment, school or their family relationships.

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