News-Decoder is partnering with a UK-based charity, Podium.me, to produce an eight-episode podcast on major international issues.

podcast
Executive Producer Simona Rata in a brainstorming session at a cafe, London, 4 April 2018. (Photo by Camilla Byk)

By Savannah Jenkins

News-Decoder is based on the premise that young people deserve to be heard when it comes to big international issues.

We’re now launching a partnership with the award-winning UK charity Podium.me that will offer an innovative platform for expression — our latest effort to cultivate curious, thoughtful global citizens.

Managed and produced entirely by young people, the content partnership will yield an eight-episode podcast on some of the world’s thorniest issues — from anti-corruption movements led by impassioned youths on the streets of Bucharest to an English marine biologist’s fight to save the coral reefs off the Seychelles.

This will be News-Decoder’s first podcast since we launched in 2015 and our second international partnership following an exclusive agreement with the African News Agency. Our 2018-19 program will encourage students at partner schools to submit podcasts and other multimedia content on the world’s biggest issues.

Like News-Decoder, Podium.me offers young people a platform to be heard. Founded by Camilla Byk, the UK-based not-for-profit helps young journalists produce podcasts in which young people discuss issues that matter to them — from selfies to Syrian refugees. They tell stories about people from the perspective of youths aged 15 to 25 years old.

Local issues with global resonance

“Podium.me is all about connecting people, through journalism, telling stories, creating teams and bridging the gap between experiences and cultures”, Byk said.

Since January, a team of students, recent graduates and aspiring journalists have been working across time zones to breathe life into the project, which has an October launch date.

The volunteer reporters are similar in age to those they interview. Some are student ambassadors, past or present, from News-Decoder’s member institutions. Others are volunteers from Podium.me. Spread across the globe – from Madrid, Spain to Princeton, New Jersey — their stories focus on talking about local issues with global resonance.

“This collaborative project between News Decoder and Podium is an amazing way of living out our aims and learning about different ways of working across the world”, said Byk, a former television producer who has mentored interns at Podium.me since its inception in 2011.

“We aren’t indifferent, and we do have something to say.”

She conceived Podium.me after watching camera crews speak only to adults when covering a story near her home in Clapham, a district in southwest of London. The story followed the “broom army” — a band of local residents armed with brooms and plastic gloves who showed up the morning after troublemakers vandalized and trashed their town.

No one appeared interested in teenagers, who were up before noon with brooms in hand, cleaning up on a Saturday morning.

“I think this podcast is us saying, ‘We aren’t detached, we aren’t indifferent and we do have something to say,'” said Simona Rata, executive producer of the joint podcast.

Rata is one of the young talents Byk has mentored at Podium. “If there is one thing I can say with near certainty, it’s that when most of the work is behind us and the episodes start rolling out, I will be taken aback by the beauty of the radio our young team of eight have produced”, says Rata.


Savannah Jenkins joined News-Decoder in January to help expand its network of schools to more countries and to support its partners. She works closely with student ambassadors to raise News-Decoder’s profile on campus and to help the  representatives fulfill their leadership responsibilities. A 2017 graduate of the American University of Paris, she has been accepted into the U.S. Peace Corps and will be starting a two-year stint in Senegal in early 2019.

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