Media literacy – a basic human right in the digital world

Sarajevo, 12.02.2021.- Media literacy enables people in all spheres of life to effectively seek, evaluate, use, create and place information in order to achieve their personal, social, professional and educational goals. It is a basic human right in the digital world and promotes social / democratic participation – it was pointed out during the workshop on media literacy for representatives of the civil sector, organized by the BH Journalists Association through the Zoom platform.

Very often the term media literacy is misinterpreted by the public, so it means grammatically correct writing of a newspaper text, use of new media technologies, analysis of media messages from only one perspective, and advice “do not watch” certain media content.

Educator and media expert doc. dr Vuk Vucetic says that media literacy is not a criticism of the media, although it includes the media. “Of course, media literacy includes quality media production, knowledge of how new technologies work and their advantages / disadvantages / potentials, and analyzing the media from several different positions, putting them in the appropriate context. It is very simple, you need to look carefully, think critically and question“, Vucetic points out.

This is even more important, if we keep in mind that today’s communication space is burdened with a lot of information such as a flood of fake content, misuse of private data and copyright, cyberbullying, hate speech, so media literacy is necessary to recognize such content and to their spread was stopped.

Media literacy of BiH citizens is further hampered by the fact that the BiH government has not recognized media literacy as a key precondition for democratization of society, so there are no clear strategies and policies in the context of media literacy.

Vučetić says that media and information literacy is considered in the context of joining the European Union, primarily in Chapter 10, and that non-governmental organizations work on this issue the most. “In the last ten years, the Communications Regulatory Agency has prepared several studies, and adopted rules and guidelines for broadcasting, with a focus on the protection of minors. As far as educational institutions are concerned, higher education has made the most progress so far, while secondary and primary education is lagging behind“, says Vucetic.

He adds that the public has a low level of media literacy, especially among young and old, and that the data from the European Media Literacy Index show that BiH is at the very bottom, in 32nd place out of 35 countries. “Citizens do not know the basic forms and ways of functioning of the media, there is no responsibility for behavior in the online sphere, there is no knowledge about digital security and data protection, we behave unscrupulously online. We are to blame to some extent, but also a system that does not explain to us how to be media literate“, Vucetic believes.

Given the fact that neither the state nor the education system has a systematic response to the low level of media literacy, a great responsibility lies with civil society organizations, which through various activities try to raise the level of media literacy among citizens to better understand information, strengthen freedom of expression and demanding free and objective media in local communities throughout BiH.

One of the participants in the workshop, Armin Šestić, president of the Zora Association from Zenica, says that with the flood of various types and forms of media information and messages at the local, national and global level, elementary media literacy of a person makes a distinction between literacy and illiteracy in real life. “I think that absolutely insufficient attention is paid to educating citizens about what media literacy is. I would especially emphasize the importance of media literacy education for children and young people who are most exposed to the uncontrolled flood of digital tools and media messages they carry. A rigid educational system is not ready to respond to this modern challenge, and I believe that the introduction of education on media literacy in primary and secondary schools is extremely important“, said Sestic, adding that media literacy at the internal level of civil society organizations is at an enviable level that the visibility of activities and projects are very important for the success of CSOs.

I am of the opinion that the vast majority of civil society organizations and employees of those organizations are media literate. In most cases, civil society organizations are funded by projects, and donors most often recognize the media as partners in media literacy programs, so I welcome the focus of BH Journalists on civil society organizations that have the potential and interest to be more engaged in media literacy programs for all citizens. citizens, but also through support to the media on that path “, concludes Šestić.

Dragana Jovanović from the Association of Citizens “ToPeer” from Doboj considers that in time of rapid change and reporting on events, phenomena and people requires individuals must find a way to be informed without ad hoc acceptance of the news. “Regardless of what I do in the NGO sector, it is extremely important for me personally to be able to recognize information so that I can” use “it in my life. Education on media literacy allows me to make a selection of necessary and unnecessary information, necessary and unnecessary facts in information and, most importantly, to separate the important from the irrelevant in information“, said Jovanovic, adding that very few organizations work on media literacy and media freedoms, believing that being a civil sector is enough.

What we use as an advantage is that, thanks to our knowledge, we perform critical evaluations, analyzes, but also the creation of new media content. So, it is very important that NGOs work permanently on media literacy as we do. We also use our knowledge to contribute to the development of local media: we had our own radio shows on local radio, published newspapers, and thus expressed our readiness to be willing to engage not only in supporting but also in strengthening local media “, Jovanovic emphasizes.

The workshop participants agreed that media literacy is related to basic human rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of speech and that media literacy promotes basic human rights and encourages citizens to increase social participation, which is the goal of media literacy.

A workshop for the NGO sector in BiH on the topic of media literacy was held within the project “Free Media for a Free Society”, implemented by the BH Journalists Association in cooperation with the Association of Electronic Media in BiH with the support of the European Union. The aim of this project is to strengthen independent and free journalism in local communities, and the application of European standards in the protection of freedom of expression and access of citizens to quality and objective information.

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