SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Youth and Independent Media in Morocco: Focus Group Findings

Tuesday , 06 April 2021
This report presents the findings of a series of focus group discussions that the Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF), in partnership with Forum des Alternatives Maroc, held in Morocco in January-February 2021. The focus groups aimed to assess how young Moroccan men and women, aged 18-25, perceive the independent, nascent media scene in their country. The report is part of SKF's contribution to the CFI-led and EU-funded D-Jil project to support youth-oriented independent media in the MENA region.

Qualitative research around the same topic had previously been published about youth and independent media in Lebanon.

The analysis of the data gathered in Morocco helps to shed light on what approaches could increase engagement, reach relevant audiences and help outlets grow sustainably:

1. Due to its accessibility and alternative nature, social media has become the primary source of news for Moroccan youth. It allows them to shape their experience rather than rely on traditional outlets. However, established offline media still plays a central part in news dissemination.

2. In line with the previous point, offline media remains relevant for a multitude of reasons, namely that these outlets have established their integrity and their commitment to reputable information. However, such factors are not limited to offline media; influencers and online newspapers have boasted a rise in faithful followers over the last few years. The sessions lend compelling evidence that familiarity with a person and reputable, primary sources are aspects of content which increase the audiences’ trust.

3. Overall, participants felt that it is difficult to discern which outlets can safely be deemed trustworthy.

4. The participants expressed enthusiasm about a diverse range of topics. Politics, law, art and professional development were the most common subjects of interest.

5. Despite their interest in politics, participants stated they did not typically share controversial or negative political news online. Self-censorship was a recurring theme, especially among the female participants. Extraneous elements affect the shareability of content, namely Moroccan culture and the expectations of family and peers. The preferential content for sharing dealt with inspirational, career-oriented, funny or “safe” topics. These topics were more likely to benefit those in the participants’ networks, and less likely to alienate those sharing the content.

6. Text-only pieces were deemed unengaging, especially when compared to video content.

7. Many participants did not speak French and regarded French content as inaccessible. Participants expressed a need for Moroccan Darija and Arabic content, especially if outlets want to engage with the rural demographic.

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