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Media Smart: Building resilience to disinformation through training programs for journalists, educators and families (Phase III)

Project Summary: 

Building on the success of the previous project cycles this follow-up initiative seeks to intensify efforts to strengthen media and information literacy (MIL) skills among children and young through enabling teachers, journalists, an interdisciplinary group of experts and family members to play proactive roles in educating children about the media to raise a MediaSmart generation. Drawing on positive experiences from the Czech and Europe, the two-year project will provide Bosnian teachers with training and support to enable them to tailor engaging MIL activities for their students; enable individual journalists to work with schools to strengthen their MIL activities; involve family members from different generations in joint MIL activities; produce and distribute a substantial volume of expert articles targeted at parents, care-takers and teachers; and enable a group of experts from a number of different fields to engage publicly on MIL and freedom of expression issues through an advocacy campaign.

Project activities: 

Output 1.1 Increased awareness among key stakeholders of the importance of family-based approaches to media literacy education in fighting propaganda and disinformation 

Activity 1.1.1 Media Smart Conference on countering propaganda and disinformation through coordinated MIL education in early childhood (family environment), at school, through cultural and social activities, and media consumption. 

The preparations will start with a widely disseminated Call for Abstracts aimed at researchers and practitioners applying various methods in MIL promotion with children and families. The goal will be to develop a common framework for working on family-based MIL education and to share knowledge about different methods and approaches in preventing harmful impact of propaganda and disinformation through family-based media literacy initiatives. The call will aim to attract submissions from specialists from different disciplines, including social pedagogues, education and policy specialists, government officials, and media professionals from B&H and the Czech Republic (potentially from other EU countries too, such as Croatia). 

The conference will gather some 28 experts (presenters and participants). It will focus on three thematic blocks to allow in-depth discussion of methods developed and used in: 

– Family environment and early childhood development: Challenges of nurturing healthy media habits; Recommendations and examples of initiatives from the CR, B&H and possibly other countries; The role of cultural and social institutions in educating families (libraries, museums, CSOs working with children, families and youth) 

– School environment: peer pressure and challenges faced by school staff as well as children and parents; Examples of initiatives countering the spread of disinformation through social media.

– Media and journalism: National public service broadcasters, online mainstream media and local media outlets; Presenting examples of media engagement with their audience on MIL topics. After the completion of the conference, Mediacentar and Transition will select a minimum of three conference presentations from different thematic blocks to be developed in full articles and published on media.ba website and local platform administered by CRA (https://medijskapismenost.ba/). A Q&A session will follow each block to focus on cooperation between actors in different thematic areas and highlight the benefits and challenges of coordinated intervention. The conference will take place in mid-October 2023, a week before MIL Days in BiH (taking place from 23 to 30 October) to highlight family-based approaches and announce MIL activities in the upcoming period.

 Activity 1.1.2 A series of articles tackling subjects related to enhancing media literacy skills within the family environment 

Each project year, 14 articles will be produced to highlight relevant MIL-related topics. Both educational and awareness-raising articles will be produced, targeting the media community and the general public. Articles will offer advice on subjects related to enhancing media literacy skills within the family, school environment, but also on educating journalists about how to report on children-related topics, something that’s of particular relevance in the country following a number of instances in which images of children were used inappropriately, such as in election campaigns or as clickbaits in news on accidents involving children. In the 2022 General Elections campaign, privacy of children was repeatedly breached in media reporting. It is therefore of great importance to prepare and try to prevent such breaches in relation to the .2024 local elections. Within this project, we will rely on experts and journalists to familiarize the general public, newsroom and the main political actors of their legal and professional obligations. The articles, which often will direct users to further learning resources, will be distributed via media outlets in B&H and the FMC website www.media.ba and will be promoted through social media. They will be published in continuity during both years of project implementation. The project’s first phase revealed an increasing appetite among parents and teachers for media and information literacy as well as a lack of easily digestible and visible information on MIL. From our contacts with media outlets we also know that editors are increasingly aware of the role they should play in promoting MIL. We believe that many media outlets will be keen to publish MIL-related content, and that significant portions of their audiences will appreciate it. 

Activity 1.1.3 Production of articles on disinformation in B&H for international audiences In close collaboration with the partner and relying on some of the journalists who participated in the previous cycle of the project, TOL editors will commission articles on disinformation, media literacy, and other topics of societal importance that would be worth disseminating more widely to increase knowledge of these crucial issues internationally. Comparative perspective will be taken into account placing disinformation patterns in B&H in a wider international context and through comparative perspectives, countering methods will be explored. The articles will be produced in English and published in TOL magazine. Twelve articles will be produced over the course of the project, one every other month on average.

Output 1.2 Parents and children improve their ability to assess, analyze, evaluate, and create media Activity 1.2.1 Media Day for families and school visits will be organized in cooperation with public institutions.

In the second project year a different institution (museum, library or public archive) will host Media Day. Marking the media freedom day, the events will seek to raise awareness of the importance of professional media reporting and bring journalists and media professionals closer to their audience. The program of the event will combine video screening, interactive discussions with journalists, Media Smart workshops for children, learning about disinformation through photography, drawings and short stories, a small exhibition of development of the media through history, etc. The program will be developed in collaboration with experts engaged in previous phases of the project, including journalists, cultural workers experienced in work with children (hosts of our intergenerational workshops in 2021), archivists, child development experts. The event will enable participants to develop positive but critical attitudes toward media. A press release will be sent out to media outlets day prior to the event, as well as the day after, and will include key messages collected from the participants and photos. Segments of the event with particular educational value (such as lectures by keynote speakers) will be considered for streaming, filmed or saved in another form (paper, article), enabling further dissemination and reach of target groups. Participants will have the opportunity to leave messages in relation to freedom of media, safety of journalists, and integrity in journalism in different forms; message boards, postit notes, drawings or photo-statements made on the event using the photo/video lab that will be installed on the conference site. These will be used to send messages from the events, voicing needs and media understanding by the children and families. The event will take place in public cultural institutions that often provide content for the family and school visits, for example History Museum in BiH. 

Output 2.1 Educators from B&H understand the importance of teaching media literacy and are inspired to play leading roles in advancing MIL Activity 

2.1.1 Study trip for a group of educators to the Czech Republic 

Building on the success of a study trip to the Czech Republic for 24 educators from B&H in the previous project phases, we propose to put together a similar activity for a group of educators (including university teachers) and journalists. The programme will be based on interdisciplinarity and holistic intervention with key target groups to support the fight against disinformation and propaganda. In Prague, they will first take part in a day-long orientation seminar delivered by Czech trainers. The program will include an overview of media literacy and its importance in fighting disinformation. It will cover methods of MIL education and discussion about the role that different actors play. The group will then spend two days visiting local media literacy initiatives, including schools, media and fact-checking agencies and libraries. The goal is to get the group inspired for new MIL activities, and to foster connections with Czech educators and MIL specialists, with a view to turning them into active agents of MIL promotion in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Upon their return, some of the participants will be actively involved in the remaining project activities, including production of articles, school visits and advocacy initiatives. 

Activity 2.1.2 Filming of media literacy education methods during the visit in the Czech Republic Since only a limited number of educators can join the study trip, we will conduct filmed interviews with Czech media literacy experts and educators and film their education methods during the visit. The materials will be edited and subtitled and then distributed online to the educator community in B&H. Output 2.2 Educators and journalists are equipped with knowledge on MIL and trained to transfer skills and tools to children on dealing with media, recognizing quality and professional media vs. propaganda, sensationalism, and disinformation 

Activita 2.2.1 Advanced training for educators and journalists 

To continue enhancing the capacities of journalists and educators in media and information literacy (MIL), an advanced training program will be organized. This program aims to teach media literacy to children of various ages, building on the knowledge gained by participants in previous phases of the project, such as Training of Trainers (ToTs) and study visits. The training will focus on practical work, experience sharing, and resources developed earlier in the project.

A key module of the training will prepare educators and journalists to conduct MIL activities in schools, inspired by the Czech “Media Day” concept. This module will incorporate lessons from the project’s own “Media Day” activities and journalist visits to schools. The day-long training will include 20 participants and will deploy methods like role-reversal exercises, plenary discussions, group work, and Q&A sessions.

Specific training modules will include:

  1. Introductory Module “From Journalist/Teacher Point of View”: Participants will assume different professional roles and present these to each other using key words, fostering an understanding of the commonalities and differences between the professions.
  2. “Five Key Questions” Module: This will introduce the method used in Czech schools, involving five essential MIL questions translated into local languages. Participants will use these questions to critically analyze media articles in group exercises.
  3. Examples of a School Class with Questions from Journalists: Based on prior project experiences and Czech practices, this module will provide examples of classes where children both analyze and create media.

Educators from the previous phase will present sample school lessons on media literacy, and journalists will share their experiences working with younger audiences, emphasizing professional standards for reporting on children. The training will conclude with Activity 3.2.2, which will further develop and implement the training outcomes.

Output 3.1 Journalists are enabled to establish cooperation with schools in local communities Activity 3.2.2 Journalists as speakers in schools 

The partner Mediacentar will arrange up to 10 visits to schools for the participating journalists. They will be explaining what their editorial teams do to counter disinformation and propaganda and discussing how the audiences can play a role. The visits will be arranged with the participating teachers and typically take place during classes on media literacy or civic education, or as part of extracurricular activities.

Output 4.1 Interdisciplinary approach underpins the development of family-based media literacy initiatives 

Activity 4.1.1. Joint advocacy campaign of Interdisciplinary Group members Effectiveness and credibility of MIL activities is to a very great extent dependent on the involvement of different expert communities. Among other things, this project is committed to increasing the presence and effectiveness of expert advice in the public discourse. The Interdisciplinary Group, formed in the previous project cycle, will continue its activities, including through small-scale advocacy campaigns, whose purpose will be to channel expert opinion on key MIL issues to the public in easily digestible forms. The group members will meet regularly to identify MIL issues of high public interest that they deem may benefit from ad hoc advocacy action led by experts from different fields. Campaigning materials, such as short videos, podcasts, op-ed pieces or animations, will be produced with coordination of the project partner, Mediacentar. Relying also on institutions that the group members are affiliated with, this small-scale advocacy campaign will be carried out mostly via social networks, with a strong likelihood of a number of national and local media outlets picking up on the topic of the campaign, thus amplifying its power and reach. The campaign will be educational and/or awareness raising, depending on the issue and advocacy goals identified by the group.

Project partner:

Mediacentar Sarajevo https://media.ba/en

Project updates:

2024

2023