Sarajevo, April 14, 2021 – The public communication process is burdened with many things, such as a flood of false content, misuse of private data, hate speech, and copyright infringement. Due to all the above, it is necessary for citizens to be media literate, ie to effectively seek, evaluate, use, create and place information in order to achieve their personal, social, professional and educational goals.
This was highlighted during a workshop on media literacy held today for civil society representatives, organized by the BH Journalists Association through the Zoom Platform, with the aim of strengthening the capacity of NGOs in the field of media literacy.
Media literacy is important because it encourages critical thinking, which provides quality information that influences our perceptions, beliefs and attitudes. In addition, according to doc. dr Vuk Vučetić encourages media literacy to be creative, because studying the way the media works as well as the potential of media technologies helps people to express themselves creatively. “However, we should not forget that media literacy is also important because of social activity, because a media and information literate person contributes to the development of democratic values through participation in everyday social activities” Vucetic said.
He adds that it is important for media literacy that citizens know that all media messages are created and that they always arise as a result of the selection of content, form and manner in which they will be packaged, as well as that they must know who is the author of that message over the production / distribution of the message. “If the audience understands that the messages can be interpreted in different ways, then they expand their horizons, which help them to accept different views and opinions, which is certainly one of the key preconditions for the functioning of a democratic society in the broadest sense“, Vucetic said.
One way to develop awareness of the importance of media literacy is to more intensively animate decision makers in order to create systemic solutions in the context of media literacy development in schools and colleges, organizing workshops and seminars for various actors, and creating brochures, publications and research in media literacy with the aim of enriching the existing literature.
Civil society organizations have a big role in the process of media literacy, which through various activities try to raise the level of media literacy among citizens in order to better understand information, strengthen freedom of expression and demand free and objective media in local communities throughout BiH.
Aleksandar Žolja from the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Banja Luka believes that media literacy and education about it, in the modern world where the media take up more and more space in everyday life, is an absolute necessity. “The media create our reality, our opinions, our desires and tastes, and we absolutely need to learn from an early age how to consume them, how to check and critically analyze them, and ultimately how to create and market them, and how to be aware and responsible“, points out Žolja. He is also of the opinion that only NGOs work on media literacy, while institutions do very little or do not work at all on these issues, and it is necessary to introduce such content in the formal structures of education, ie in primary and secondary schools. “Apart from the fact that non-governmental organizations and the media should cooperate more, they should also jointly advocate the introduction of media literacy in education, through a broad coalition of organizations and the media” adds Zolja.
Adisa Kišić from the Information Center for Persons with Disabilities “Lotos” from Tuzla says that media literacy is very important for all actors in the community, and a powerful tool in all spheres of life. “From our experience in the work of “Lotos” whose mission is to influence the creation of a democratic civil society in which disability issues will be treated as basic human rights issues, a society with equal opportunities for all its members and in which people with disabilities will be equal to others, it has been shown that the way the media portrays disability issues has a direct bearing on how the public will perceive people with disabilities. Education on media literacy is very important, from the earliest age, and we believe that in primary schools through presentations in all school subjects, you can practice presentation, creating media content and influence their quality“, emphasizes Kišić.
Kišić also believes that cooperation between NGOs and the media must be a continuous process that will include work and education of both members and activists of organizations, as well as journalists. “We at Lotus are aware of this need and strive to constantly cooperate and act together with the media, with the aim of properly presenting the issue of disability to the public. We are witnesses that the situation on this issue is slowly and slowly changing in a positive sense, and that if we constantly work on raising the capacity of our organizations in the field of media literacy, we can expect results“, concludes Kišić.
So far, 106 NGO representatives have been empowered through media literacy workshops, who agree that NGOs are an excellent space for promoting media literacy, especially in local communities where they are in direct contact with citizens on the ground, and their impact on media literacy is much higher. Workshop participants are of the opinion that there is not enough quality and systematic training on media literacy, as well as that they lack the resources to raise the level of media literacy among citizens.
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.