Rejuvenating Voices: IRCA’s Youth-Centric Media Evolution

Institute of Romani Culture in Albania (IRCA)
Case Study

Name of the media:

Institute of Romani Culture in Albania (IRCA)

Mentor:

Emiljano Kaziaj, PhD

Founded in:

2011
7

Employees

Diversifying Reporting Topics

The Institute of Romani Culture in Albania (IRCA) is a non-governmental organisation working on intercultural exchange and dialogue with a focus on Roma culture and heritage. It aims to increase cultural sensitivity in Albania by contributing to peacebuilding and tolerance.

IRCA intended to enrich its online presence and diversify topics of reporting, focusing more on issues affecting youth, women, and minorities by offering youth-produced content: podcasts and interviews. Additionally, through this project, the team wanted to know its audience better and tailor the content to their needs. Moreover, IRCA hoped that the group of young people who would engage with the project would serve as promoters of their online content within their communities and among their friends.

The goal of the Media Innovation Europe project was for the team to focus on mentoring and supporting at least 20 young Roma and non-Roma youth and help them produce 10 podcasts/multimedia reporting pieces on Intercultural dialogue and human rights to be broadcasted on IRCA’s online channels. These skills would serve as resources for both enriching IRCA’s online content and increasing its visibility among other young people.

 

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Previous experience

As part of their previous work, IRCA had some experience with radio programs broadcast through their online channel. Due to their extended focus on implementation of projects in the field that targeted communities directly, their experience with multimedia productions was at an initial stage. Also, they had no prior experience supporting youth groups to build their multimedia and reporting skills. Finally, their knowledge of their targeted audiences for their online programs was not systematic.

All these components were set to be addressed through the project, aiming at building a group of young contributors who would engage continuously with IRCA’s online media production. Supporting them in reaching a larger audience and potential donors would have an impact on the sustainability of the organisation.

 

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Mentoring the creation of new content

During the process, IRCA explored how to engage young people in producing media content by involving them from the initial stages of planning. The mentor encouraged IRCA to consult youth on topics they would be interested in, their desired multimedia tools and channels and their preferred methodology and availability for capacity building on multimedia reporting. At the end of this process, the training process has been tailored. IRCA knew how to cater better to the needs of youth, and had ideas on topics for multimedia production.

Following the successful training, youth were supported through a tailored mentoring scheme while drafting their multimedia materials. IRCA made sure to have regular meetings with youth and support them in materialising their ideas.

IRCA’s training for young contributors.

During this phase of the project, IRCA was working to understand how to make their content more appealing to a young audience and how to increase its quality for better audience engagement. The team also provided youth with concrete tips and suggestions on how to improve their reporting skills, beyond this specific task.

The implementation of the project has brought about a change in the mindset of IRCA, no longer considering the young audience solely as beneficiaries but rather as valuable contributors to their ongoing work. The mentorship has helped IRCA increase their multimedia production capacities and have all the expertise needed to make this change long-lasting. Lastly, fueling its online presence with rich and diverse youth-produced content has helped IRCA to refresh its online presence and improve the quality of its multimedia reporting on issues that are rarely covered by the plethora of online media in Albania.

 

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Finalisation and strategy challenges

The main challenges faced by IRCA during the implementation of the project were keeping youth engaged in the production as well as finalisation of multimedia content, and building a strategy for enhancing the visibility of these products.

Regarding the first challenge, the mentor encouraged IRCA to engage trainers beyond the interactive workshops delivery and have them act as mentors to individual youth who struggled with finalising their products.

Additionally, mentorship helped them define who their targeted audiences were and draft messages to be used for the publications of youth-produced content for maximum visibility.

Such planning, which was an innovative tool for IRCA, helped them build a robust communication strategy that facilitated the publishing process.

In addition to uplifting their online presence, audience engagement and diversification of content, by presenting positive models of youth from vulnerable communities IRCA encouraged young people to see media engagement and reporting as a future career.

 

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“It was a great experience and very useful for our work on increasing the performance and quality of the production. With guidance and support, we have not only reached our targets but also exceeded them. We are truly grateful for this mentorship.” – IRCA team.