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• Colombia

Código de acceso, young people and information

Access Code has achieved extraordinary results. These youngsters manage to get their articles published in all sections of the newspaper, offering opinions on issues that can only be seen from the perspective of youth, a view of reality that at times adult journalists do not have the capacity to see.

One result is that many young people have been given the chance to find out how a means of communication works, and provided with the opportunity of developing a great critical capacity towards public information and the media in general. All those taking part in the initiative gain this experience. By taking part in the dynamics of news production in a vehicle of mass communication, young people have been given the chance to experience an important training process. Over the last few years, communication activities have been projected socially, producing a strong impact on the dissemination of information, and creating a youth communication network. Youngsters taking part in Access Code have given their support and advice to youth organisations and local community projects concerning the media, gaining an increasingly critical awareness of social reality.

Secondly, as result of this experience, many participants have decided to take up journalism or investigative journalism, both as a professional career or by directly participating in local or institutional communication media.

Thirdly, results have produced a youth communication network, headed by Access Code participants and ex-participants, which can give advice and support to school initiatives in the field of communications. Thus, trainees taken on by Editorial El Tiempo give their support to college students and district youth organisations, teaching them what they have learnt and helping them improve their school or district magazines and broadcasts. In the past few years, communication projects have been developed in different cities, through the creation of a press club in which 12-16 year-old public and private schoolchildren from poor backgrounds in Bogotá, Cali, Medellín and Barranquilla are given a taste of the Access Code experience. Today, the press club has about 100 teenage members that share their experiences on a daily basis.

Some of the proposals that are presently being supervised by ex-Access Code students include: the Access Code Press Club, which replicates the innovation for teenagers from poor backgrounds; the Web Page Committee, which produces proposals for teenage journalism; the Creative and Artistic Committee, which is responsible for the project’s image; the Research Committee which offers suggestions on how the project can best operate, and the Juvenile Relations Committee, which is responsible for relations with the youth of Colombia.

Access Code has received recognition for its promotion of children’s rights and for its work in strengthening the country’s school information media. Although the innovation has not received formal international recognition, Plan Internacional, Fundación Restrepo Barco, and the Community Relations Department of Editorial El Tiempo present the innovation in international events as an important result of its work on youth.

The most important result is the structural impact that the participation of the youngsters has generated in the newspaper itself.