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Youth find their voice on Tunisian radio

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

In the year since Tunisia’s Arab Spring revolution shed its former dictator’s tight grip over public expression, many are exploring myriad ways to be heard.

Ana Tounsi Radio, a US-funded effort, aims to keep young voices in the mix through Web radio and online video broadcasting. More than 100 young volunteers received technical training and now make programming decisions for the initiative, which went live in October under the slogan (translated from the local Arabic dialect) “It’s not enough that you listen. It’s time now to speak.”

On-air topics range from sports and culture to social and political issues. Conversations spill over onto social media sites and YouTube. Programs run 24/7, with live broadcasts from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. During Tunisia’s fall elections, the station says young people provided extensive coverage from around the country.

Fedia Gasmi, part of a nongovernmental organization that oversees the project, says the station empowers youths by giving them a space to articulate their priorities. As they re-invent the communications landscape, she says, the goal is to enhance civic engagement as well as to “create critical thinking about media.”

A $215,000 grant from the US State Depart­ment’s Middle East Partnership Initiative helped pay for equipment and start-up costs.

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