Youth engagement in community media: A study of learning processes in community radio in Spain
Isabel Lema Blanco, AMARC Europa, CUAC FM, Universidade da Coruña.
This article presents the results of the research project, «Youth and third sector communication in Spain»[i] conducted in 2014-2015 by fourteen researchers, members of the RICCAP research network[ii]. The project was granted by the Queen Sofia Centre for Adolescents and Young People.
The aim of the project is to examine the role of community, free and university media in Spain as tools for media literacy and as instruments for creating a more critical and communicative citizenry. For this purpose, we analyse the training processes that free and community media conduct within their organizations regard to the general population, focusing on young people engagement in informal education. In terms of methods, first, we distributed a survey which was responded by 94 media (radio=55%) nationwide. Second, we conducted four focus groups in four different regions of Spain. A total of 28 youngers, representing 13 radio stations, 4 press projects and 2 audiovisual production.
The results of the project -regarding learning in community media- are published –in both English and Spanish- in the journal article titled “Youth and the Third Sector Media in Spain: Communication and Social Change Training”, authored by Isabel Lema-Blanco, Eduardo Rodríguez y Alejandro Barranquero[iii].
The study looks into the motivations of youth sectors for taking part in a citizens’ communication project: on the one hand, the desire to acquire professional skills and practical experience with regard to academic training and, on the other, their aspirations relating to voluntary work and social commitment. Likewise, young people approach these media not just because they find in them somewhere where they can direct their interests and demands, but also because they consider them to be an essential instrument for taking part in public life.
Second, we study the learning processes which occur within the community radio sector. The studio shows three basic types of training which facilitate member´s acquisition of abilities and skills in communication: (1) workshops that teach how to produce, design and undertake a radio programme, both from a creative and a technical point of view; (2) guidance for new members and programmes; and, to a lesser extent, (3) external training actions which, besides making the medium known in its environment, offer a didactic or ludic service to the surrounding community.
Besides, collaborative learning processes permit young radio activist social not only the acquisition of new knowledge about social communication and broadcasting production but also the acquisition of social abilities as well as new values and attitudes from taking part in a social group. Social skills – such as team-working, conflict-solving, leadership- are mostly learned by taking responsibilities in collaborative projects and engaging in decision-making processes.
The results show that the third sector media in Spain act as invaluable tools for the acquisition of skills and competences that are transferable into young people’s professional and experiential sphere, given the ability of these media outlets to identify with their interests, aspirations and difficulties. In a broad sense, these initiatives contribute to expanding the right of communication in two different ways: on the one hand, because they are open to citizen participation in both management responsibilities and content programming; and, on the other, because their decentralized practices provide a laboratory for creative journalism which, in turn, is linked to social movements and other means of expression for citizens (NGOs, associations, etc.).
[i] The complete study (in Spanish) can be downloaded by the project´s webpage:
[ii] RICCAP- The Research Network on Alternative and Participatory Community Communication (RICCAP) is founded as an academic research association whose interests are concerned with the Third Sector of communication and all those media outside the corporate information sector. https://www.riccap.org/about-us/
[iii] The paper has been published in the number 48 of the international journal: “Comunicar, media education research journal”: https://www.revistacomunicar.com/index.php?contenido=detalles&numero=48&articulo=48-2016-09