The hackathon #YouthForMILSolutions, organized by the Albanian Media Institute (AMI), gathered 15 participants: high school and university students, and some young reporters, as well.
One group focused on firsthand monitoring of the electoral campaign expenses in social media and preparing guidelines and recommendations for young reporters to follow the issue. Using a set of applications, including Crowdtangle and Buzzsumo, the group carried out an analysis of existing pages on Facebook that aimed both to improve the positive image of one party and degrade the opponent. After carrying out monitoring and examining the transparency features of these pages, the group drew a set of recommendations for young reporters in this respect, such as the use of relevant application and tools, the respective mechanisms that Facebook has in this regard, and the criteria that all journalists must examine on a Facebook page to determine if there is a disinformation effort.
The second group focused on media literacy and digital skills of young reporters, with a particular focus on civic journalism and activism. They were trained and discussed the applications, tools, sources, and methods of reporting on issues of public relevance in a way that would reach young people more, boosting activism in the Albanian society. They focused especially on the ways of using infographics, maps, animated posters, and other multimedia aids and instruments to report on social media to young people. Using highly relevant topics, such as the situation with the pandemic and the endangered environment, they built a portfolio of examples as a potential way that engaged young citizens could use to raise awareness about their problems and issues in an informed and innovative way that traditional and online media do not often deploy.
The third group, consisting of high school students and young university students, worked to provide recommendations for teachers on how to link teaching and MIL in order to make MIL an interesting and relevant subject for the students. They focused on answering the question of what makes the youth interested in the media, and worked on providing recommendations on how to make media literacy interesting for the youth, especially high school students. Their idea focused on engaging students in creating their own online school newspaper, as an opportunity for students to experience firsthand the “reporter” experience and some of its facets. Parallel to the experience, the students also designed a mini-curricula that teachers or external experts and guests could follow to train young reporters, including basic journalism principles, fact-checking practice, newsworthiness criteria, interviewing, and ethical principles. The students also engaged in designing the format of the newspaper and specific content that would be attractive and useful to their peers, as well as suggested specific roles within the newsroom and how the routine of such practice would work.
The Hackathon “YouthForMILSolutions” was held within the regional project “Media for Citizens – Citizens for Media”, implemented by several media organizations from the Western Balkans, including AMI, with financial support from the European Union.