Weera Suwannachote

Ashoka Fellow
Thailand,
Fellow Since 2003
Thai Youth News Center Association

Citation

This profile was prepared when Weera Suwannachote was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Although youth constitute one of the major consumers of mainstream media in Thailand, youth-driven television–television by, for, and about youth–has been largely absent. Through his Thai Youth News Center (TYNC), Weera is filling this gap. Working in partnership with UNICEF, the National Youth Bureau, and the Ministry of Education, the TYNC helps establish local volunteer-run youth news clubs in high schools selected to represent the economic, social, geographic, and ethnic diversity of the country. Weera and his staff then train youth participants to independently produce their own professional-standard, TV youth news–stories about how events affect the lives and rights of children in their community–allowing them to control all aspects of the news production process, from conceiving and researching the story to actually filming the interviews. If it were limited only to providing TV production skills, the TYNC would still fulfill important youth development objectives: helping youth to acquire vocational and other important life skills (like teambuilding, confidence, and the ability to listen and respect the views of others) and to reflect critically on society. But, by partnering with the Mass Media and Communications Authority of Thailand, Weera obtained noncommercial airtime on national television to broadcast these youth reports weekly. By bringing the voices of these youth to the mainstream, Weera is creating Thailand's first quality, noncommercial, educational programming for children by children and stimulating ongoing dialogue about youth issues among his youth and adult audiences.
With the TYNC already working with its established partners to increase both the number of student reporters and the television channels through which their work is shown, Weera is shifting his focus to expanding the TYNC programmatically and internationally. Building off the same base of youth reporters, Weera is branching out into different media (the Internet, radio, and print) to provide additional distribution channels for youth news content. In addition, he is identifying and securing the professional networks, allies, and students necessary to spread youth-driven television throughout the region, beginning in neighboring countries.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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