Engaging the media

Modern media, especially smart phones and the Internet, are important sources of information on sexuality and sexual health. Not all of the messages provided are accurate or positive, yet there is enough agreement that the impact of mass media on young people’s sexual development is significant enough to include critical analysis of the media in CSE curricula and programmes. 

There is great potential for the media to contribute to nurturing community support for CSE programming and implementation:

  • Many people view the media as trusted sources of information about sexuality. Partnering with them can encourage positive, healthy images and provide access to resources and health care referrals.
  • Mass media can reach large numbers of people easily, which means it can influence social norms and practices, and provide population-level sensitization to CSE topics and issues. Media programmes seem to be most effective when combined with other complementary activities such as educational materials and health services.
  • Journalists and other media personnel can influence public opinion and also change the negative discourse that comes from the propagation of myths and misinformation.

[Source: WHO. 2009. Generating demand and community support for sexual and reproductive health services for young people: A review of the literature and programmes.]

Strategies for engaging the media in CSE
  • Devise a media advocacy plan that includes campaign objectives (educational and action-oriented goals), clear and simple messages, and supporting IEC materials. Match media to target audience (radio/TV/phones/social media), media strategy/plan with resources, track the plan as you implement, and evaluate the impact during and after.
  • Map out specific activities to support CSE.
  • When working with journalists and artists, develop a press release and deliver a briefing document and preparatory session in advance, so that messages are accurate, clear, and consistent.
  • Work with media houses that have a large following for wide coverage.
  • Create a media calendar and take advantage of family, children’s, and cultural days to engage communities on CSE.
  • Leverage the credibility and appeal of well-known celebrities, artists, and high-profile people.
  • Identify the different community groups and target messages at each. Answer simple questions such as ‘Why should parents or leaders care about CSE?’
  • Use different messages and media to community about CSE – be creative and inclusive.