Results from the Bulgarian research part of the project “Young people and the media in South Eastern Europe”

IMG_5115-300x200Most of the young people in Bulgaria are interested in topics connected to politics, business, education and carrier development and prefer this information to have an youthful appearance. Although the predominant opinion among journalists (65%) is that young people are interested mainly in entertainment and sport.
Such are the results of the unrepresentative study of the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria on the media environment in the country through the eyes of young people, conducted during 2013. The study covers young people between 15-30 years of age divided into groups between 15-19, 20-24 and 24-30 years of age. It turned out that the younger among them are more trustful to the media content and when aging their critical disposition grows.
The results were introduced during a work meeting on the topic “Media in the world of the young people – what are the problems and the possibilities in the media environment through the eyes of young people in Bulgaria” that took place on 30.11.2013 in the Red House, Sofia
The main conclusions from the project are:

  • Young people in Bulgaria do not trust the media. Among the 20-24 years old 19% think that print media are completely insecure while in the next age group the percentage rises to 27%. A bit higher is the trust in the TV – young people up to 20 years of age more rarely give negative evaluations to this channel; but those with critical disposition grow their numbers to 21% in the group up to 30 years of age. The Radio, though not so widely used among young people as the new media, is a traditional media that gets the biggest trust among young people, particularly in the age group of 20-24.
  • There is a solid influence of internet media among young people as the youngest are the least trustful to the internet sources and the social networks. In total 65 % from those who have been questioned are using internet through their phones every single day and 80% – through other device. They prefer to read print newspapers rather than Internet ones – 72% to 17%. Only 54% of them are watching television on a daily basis and 33% are listening to the radio.
  • The image of young people in media is highly negative. They think that they are depicted as rude, uneducated, aggressive, uninterested and inactive but at the same time – innovative.
  • There is hardly any support from the civil sector for young journalist. Along with that there are trainings of young people on how to work with media and to create their own content.
  • The media literacy of young people is poor but still when they get older and advance in their educational degree they tend to think more critically on the information in the media.
  • The recognition of hate speech and propaganda in media is not on a good level. Even though in young people exists a basic feeling that the media are structuring their information as a propaganda.

Work groups searching for solutions
Fifteen students took part in topical work groups led by experienced Bulgarian journalists during the debate on 30th November. Their task was to suggest solutions of the issues formulated from the study. Hereby we present you the main conclusions reached by the participants in the work groups.
Group 1: “Hate speech and the lack of media literacy” hosted by Irina Nedeva, Bulgarian national radio

  • Young people are an object of negative stereotypes in media as the ways of their representation are very much alike the means used to describe the minorities in Bulgaria.
  • The aggressive speech of young people is part of the communication of life at home and in school. It is part of the political discussion at a high level in the state institutions.
  • The political hate speech is more dangerous when it is not criticized and it is delivered literally as it sets a certain norm for behavior in the society.
  • It is necessary more information to be brought to young people about how they can react to the hate speech which they witness. There is lack of critical thinking and reflex to verify the sources of information.

Group 2: “The negative image of young people in media” hosted by Ilia Valkov, Darik radio

  • The clash between traditional media and the young people is part of the eternal struggle of the generations. To a certain degree this is a normal process.
  • A huge part of the broadcasts devoted to youth topics in the media are led by professionals who do not belong to the same age group. Young people in the media are not admitted to the decision making process.
  • Young people in media are not active enough and are not succeeding in making it to the agenda.
  • Young people are invited to talk shows to comment on important topics very rarely. The TV broadcast is occupied by one and the same people for years.

Group 3 “Access of young people to the media and the future of internship programs” hosted by Darina Cherkezova, Capital Weekly

  • One of the ways for changing the image of young people in media is getting inside the media through internships. They can increase the talks about young people through their personal blogs and through social media. Another option is if they themselves – as entrepreneurs or as just initiative people with strong civil opinion – develop own platforms for information, analysis and comments.
  • When applying for an internship young people must prove that they are critical readers of media content. It is a good thing to maintain own blog and to create a good network of contacts

The participants have united around the idea that if more attention is to be brought to young people, their problems and initiatives it is them who have to be more active and attractive in order to provoke the consideration in the media. At the same time media have to upgrade their politics concerning young people and to reach their hand to the new generation that takes part in the creation of news or wants to be part of their media coverage.
Information about the project
The study was part of a large international research that took place in 11 countries in South Eastern Europe – Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Albania, Kosovo, Turkey, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria. The aim was to be gathered information about the topics, forms and ways where media and young people connect and to identify the areas where additional work is required.
The survey for young people and the media in Bulgaria was made in August 2013. Three online polls were made with young people (1200 answered), youth organizations (32 answered) and media (54 answered). At the same time ten interviews with media experts were conducted. The study embraces a relatively calm period of the social discontent in the country. By the time this report was finished the protests against the government continue for more than 160 days as in the beginning of the university year the students headed the civil unrest. Young people in the country are making it to the media more often and the debate with them and about them comes in the first places of the traditional media releases as well as in the new ones. However this survey was conducted before the new development of the civil unrest. This way it gives a clear view about the condition of the connection of young people and media prior to the students’ occupation and protests.

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