The Attitudes, Habits and Needs of Youth in BiH Regarding Media Content
The Attitudes, Habits and Needs of Youth in BiH Regarding Media Content
Anida Sokol and Senad Alibegović
The younger generations who grew up with new technologies, the Internet, social networks and mobile phones have different information and communication needs and expectations from the media compared to the older ones. Reports from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in recent years suggest that young people are less and less using traditional media, such as television, newspapers and news radio, and are increasingly turning to social media and other online platforms. It is therefore necessary for traditional media to find ways to attract younger audiences and create content that is interesting and accessible to them.
The subject of this research is the youth media habits and needs for media content, their attitudes and knowledge of journalistic standards and media freedoms, as well as the ways in which the media meet the needs of youth for specialized content. In order to create recommendations for media content for young people, as well as educational activities in media and information literacy for young people, the aim was to see what are the main sources of information for youth, who are their favorite journalists and influencers, what topics are missing in the media and what media skills they would like to acquire, and what attitudes and knowledge youth have about the media and media freedoms.
The research was conducted from May to July 2021, and included the following segments:
1. Questionnaire for youth on their media habits and needs for media content, answered by 321 young people from BiH.
2. Three focus groups with young people on their attitudes and knowledge about the media and media freedoms and the role of the media included 31 young people.
3. Ten semi-structured interviews with representatives of the media and youth organizations in order to obtain additional information and comments on youth policies in BiH and media content for young people, comments on the results of questionnaires and focus groups, as well as successful activities for youth in the field of media and information literacy.
4. Questionnaire for media on youth content and their strategies on how to attract younger generations.
5. Secondary research, which included a review of previous research on youth and media in BiH, a review of the legislative framework for youth, a review of the obligations of public and private television and radio stations regarding the broadcasting of content for young people.
The results of the research show that the basic sources of information for the respondents are online media, such as portals and websites that publish news and other content (65%). Social networks are main source of information for slightly more than 28% of respondents, family and friends for about 2%, television for 1.25%, and the press and radio were cited by only two respondents as the main source of information (0.62%). The results of the questionnaire indicate that respondents spend most of their time on Instagram (56%), followed by Facebook (22%) and YouTube (about 11%), while TikTok with 5% and Twitter with 2% are less popular, and only 3 respondents stated that they do not use social networks. Respondents on social networks most often follow posts, photos and statuses of friends, and the least comment on media posts.
Respondents use social networks to follow topics that interest them, and the list of YouTube and podcast channels that youth follow is very long and varied. Such content about music, beauty, fashion, exercise, humor, male-female relationships is mostly in the form of roles or interviews with celebrities, offering a more casual, intimate and fun approach to sometimes trivial topics and private lives of influencers. Respondents rarely single out television and radio shows, which means that they rarely watch this type of content on television and radio channels, but also that traditional channels lack shows that would be interesting to young people. Regarding the formats, they prefer short texts with photos, short videos and pictures with short descriptions, which corresponds to the formats they find on the Internet.
Traditional media in BiH offer little specialized content for young people, although media representatives say they are trying to attract younger audiences and monitor the activities and work of young people and youth organizations. More than half of the respondents in the survey are not satisfied with the content of online media (66%) and the content of radio and television programs (66%), and focus group participants have very negative attitudes towards the media in BiH and believe that they spread political propaganda, ethno-national tensions, fake news and clickbait content and provide sensationalist and unnecessary information. Survey respondents and focus group participants state that the media lack positive stories, conversations with young people and presentation of their views and opinions, educational and entertaining content, as well as an objective and critical review of the political situation in the country.
The media are a good tool for educating and informing young people, encouraging participation in public life and decision-making, but in youth policies the media are not recognized as such, and youth organizations often do not have the capacity and knowledge for media education and cooperation with the media. Respondents from focus groups and the questionnaire show a certain level of knowledge about the media, but they lack information on how citizens can exercise the right to information, how it is possible to regulate media content, and how to report problematic media content. Youth that participated in focus groups express interest in media and information literacy training, and almost 40% of respondents in the surveys are interested in mastering the skills of recognizing disinformation and fake news, which shows that young people are aware of problematic media content, but also that they lack these skills. The interest of young people in media and information literacy training should be taken as a positive indicator and incentive when establishing and creating education for youth media literacy.
The research shows that it is necessary for the media in BiH to take a strategic approach to the development of specialized content for young people, and to prepare educational and entertaining content with topics, formats and platforms that are interesting and accessible to them. Given that young people have distrust of the media, it is necessary to offer positive examples of professional media reporting through education in order to build trust in professional media and journalists, but also through these contents to point out the problems that young people face in BiH. On the other hand, it is necessary for the media and media education to become an integral part of youth policies and for youth organizations to be empowered to cooperate with the media and educate in the field of media in order to make the voices of young people as strong as possible.
Full report can be found here.
This publication was published within the project "Youth for Better Media" funded by the European Union, and jointly implemented by Mediacentar Sarajevo and Ja bih u EU. The views expressed in this publication are the sole responsibility of Mediacentar Sarajevo and do not necesarrily represent the views of the European Union.