Youth On … Mute

Published: 25 February 2014

Region: Southeastern Europe

muteYoung people in South-east Europe are portrayed in media as dependent, apolitical, violent and impolite. This is the finding of the latest survey by “SEE Youth & Media”.[i]

Although young people constitute a great percentage of the population in Balkan region, they are usually excluded from the media landscape and misrepresented by journalists and media makers.Haris Dedovic, editor in chief of the youth magazine, Karike, said in an interview for the Media Diversity Institute (MDI): “For Bosnian media ‘youth’ is only university students or high school students. We can hardly see other categories have been taken into account, such as young people living in remote areas who might not study. And there is a general opinion or better say, myth that young people want to get everything by doing nothing. I am not saying that youth is perfect, but it is not like they’ve been portrayed either. There is a significant amount of young people that try really, really hard to improve themselves in many ways”.

More than half of the media in Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Slovenia, almost 87% in Turkey and more than 71% in Serbia agreed that youth is rarely represented in media content. In most of the media outlets, there are no columns focusing on youth while there is a significant lack of youth oriented programmes, addressing issues like education, career opportunities and guidance.

SEE Youth and Media research also showed that youth tends to be invisible in traditionally important subjects, like politics and economics whereas it is quite present in “lighter” topics, such as entertainment.

28,6% of young responders believe that they are never represented in political contents while 44,4% that they are little represented and 29,1% believe that they have never identified themselves in news stories about financials and economy.

“Under-representation of young people in the media could be just natural reflection of under-representation of youth in decision making processes on all levels. It is quite expected that media won’t affiliate youth to “more serious” topics such as politics and economy, if they there is no or insignificant number of youth voices in decision making bodies in this regard. Responsibility for such situation lies on all social actors, not solely media. European Youth Press is continuously working on empowerment of young media makers as well as on strengthening relationships with other stakeholders” comments MIlena Stošić, Board Member of European Youth Press.

On the contrary youth seems to be mostly involved in topics regarding entertainment, sports, fashion and crime news. 57,9% of young people supported that they are much represented in entertainment related programmes whereas media answered that youth is mostly visible in sports programmes followed by the fields of entertainment and fashion.

These data are quite worrying taking into consideration that young people deal with serious problems connected with the political and economic condition of their countries, like corruption, youth unemployment and immigration and yet, they are excluded from the public dialogue, presented by media. MIlena Stošić told MDI about it; “Young people are important part of all of our societies and by ignoring their ability to actively participate in the development of those societies, we are discarding valuable perspective and undermining progress of whole community. Media has great part in bringing to agenda issues and views of young people all around Europe and this would, I am sure, prove to be mutually beneficial for all of us and at the end for the more objective and quality media content”.

Trying to fill the gap, many young people across Balkans take the initiative to establish their own media and thus create a place where their voices can be heard. “Karike” (The Links) is an example of this type of media, which is sustainable and circulates in many Bosnian cities. Editor in Chief, Haris Dedovic says: “Media such as “Karike” and other youth media and platforms can contribute to changing the general opinion (about youth) by showing which the real problems of young people are and illustrating examples of people who succeeded to overcome those obstacles”.

Other interesting survey results was the mistrust of young people towards media, characterizing them partial and subjective, and the lack of action from the side of media organizations to tackle issues concerning media and youth.


[i] “SEE Youth & Media” research aimed to explore the relation between youth and media and the representation of young people of the region by mainstream and online media. It has been implemented in 11 countries in Balkan Peninsula, involving 16.804 young people, 675 media, 445 youth organizations and more than 30 media organisations.