News Digital Media Viability Lab

“UMENA” TV… Voice of Youth in the MENA

Maharat and DW Akademie have been running a Media Management Training program since February, 2018 that aims at building the capacity of media professionals in creating sustainable media platforms in the MENA Region. During the training, 16 participants were divided into four groups, each of which planned their own media platform idea and presented it to the trainers. At the end of the media management training program, the groups were followed up with by the organizing members.

One of the media concepts is UMENA TV, a web TV with a mission to inspire Arab youth by creating socially interactive and engaging content. They aim to represent the voice of youth in MENA. Team member Leila Echafaqi gave Maharat the following candid interview in which she talks about the UMENA TV project as well as her own initiative.

1) Please introduce yourself and what you do.

My name is Leila Echafaqi and I am 36 years old. I have a Bachelor degree in Journalism and a Masters degree in Management and Marketing. I work as the executive director of a community radio station called Radio Plus since 2007. I also teach journalism and communication at the UNIVERSIAPOLIS University of Agadir in Morocco since 2014.

2) Are you working on anything specific now?

I am working on a personal project of crowd funding. It’s a talk show in the Amazigh language, dedicated to shopkeepers in Morocco- mostly those who speak Amazigh. We plan to organize a competition for one month where contestants get to answer questions about cultural heritage, music and art in exchange for gifts.

As for the crowd funding, it will be from an association of shopkeepers who are interested in Amazigh heritage. Every member can participate with a donation as small as $30 a year- and there are 1000 members in the whole association.

3) What have been the most important topics for you from the Media Management Training, and why?

Most of the topics are important in my opinion, but if I had to choose it will be “the modern ways of monetization”, because we still work in the standard ways of radio and it’s time to try new models to diversify our revenues.

4) Do you have plans to implement any changes in your organization based on what you’ve learned in the Media Management Training?

I am working on specific projects of new monetizing model according to what we have learned in the training courses.

5) What’s your end goal from this training?

I’ve worked in radio for 11 years. I know how media works: the newsroom, the talk shows, the marketing, public relations and managing people. This is my job!! I also teach Communication to students and professional adults.

I participated in this training to update my knowledge and to prepare myself for a career as a media trainer to help other professionals in the Arab world overcome hard situations and develop their media platforms.

6) Finally, what’s your opinion generally about how quality journalism can be financed these days?

I believe that nowadays there are several channels and platforms to get information, and some categories of audience are aware of the role of the independence of a media in quality journalism.

I believe that quality journalism should be paid for. Crowd funding, membership and special projects sponsored by NGOs are examples of how quality journalism can be financed.