Promoting civic activism through civic journalism: Program for youth of Stepanavan
Recently, one could notice that the young people of Stepanavan were not too active and enterprising in the city that was the Youth Capital of the Republic of Armenia in 2015.
Through a study, “KAMQ” Lori Youth Programs Center NGO tried to identify the main reasons for this, and based on the results, unfortunately, most of the active young people of Stepanavan have moved to other settlements, while the new generation of young people living in Stepanavan are not motivated and civically active and lack awareness about the mechanisms for participation in local self-governance.
After the studies, the NGO recorded a low level of involvement of the community’s youth in the public, political, social, economic, cultural and other sectors of the community and developed a program promoting activism of the local youth. The program is entitled “Promoting Active Citizenry Among Youth of Stepanavan Through Civic Journalism” and gained the maximum points in the grant contest declared by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs of the Republic of Armenia for the fourth quarter in 2019.
Through this program, from December 6 to 10, the city of Stepanavan of Lori Province hosted a five-day course during which 25 young people of Stepanavan gained necessary knowledge about civic activism, knowledge required to carry out a community initiative and to participate in community life through civic journalism, as well as skills and experience in receiving written and verbal information, conducting interviews, writing articles, taking photos and videotaping the right way and posting all this on a blog. During the program, the young beneficiaries discussed and tried to identify the current issues in the enlarged Stepanavan community and jointly determined the more priority issue and the options for solutions to those issues through a civic-community initiative.
Within the scope of the program, the young beneficiaries also participated in a civic journalism internship during which they conducted interviews devoted to community issues of their interest with representatives of the local self-government bodies of Stepanavan, asked their questions of concern, prepared their first articles devoted to those issues and posted them on the blogs created through the program, and with this, they made their first attempts as journalists. After the program, the beneficiaries will continue to shed light on the problems and events in Stepanavan by actively participating in different processes unfolding in the community and by organizing civic and community events through civic journalism. The young civic journalists having successfully completed the course received certificates and the opportunity to participate in the shooting of the future short film devoted to the program and the development of the script.
“Thanks to this program, I learned not only how I can participate in governance in my community and organize civic events, but also how I can take better photos and write interesting articles, create and host a blog, and these are skills that we all need to have not only as civic
journalists, but also as modern and literate people in general,” Ani Aivazyan, one of the beneficiaries of the program, mentioned after the program was over, adding that she would continue to use her knowledge and try to shed light on community issues and events on her blog and acquire more skills to collaborate with other mass media outlets in Stepanavan and help solve her employment issue to a certain extent