Media literacy: A shield against the infodemic
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Bucharest, 24 October 2022. The Center for Independent Journalism Romania (CJI) and UNICEF will continue to join forces in 2022, through media literacy programmes which include activities for both journalists and teachers. The need for media literacy has become increasingly obvious in recent years, with 55% of Romanians saying they have been exposed to fake news and misinformation.
Crisis situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the economic recession predicted for next year, are a fertile environment for spreading false information and misinformation. That is why media literacy plays an even greater role in the lives of citizens, as it helps develop the skills needed to identify, understand and critically evaluate different types of information especially for children and adolescents, who are more vulnerable to misinformation.
Continuing its partnership with UNICEF in Romania, CJI will work with journalists to raise awareness on how to tackle sensitive crisis-related topics through dedicated training sessions. In addition, to encourage children and adolescents to actively engage in the public conversation, media literacy programmes will be implemented in additional schools and universities.
"Although there are some national perspectives on how to approach media literacy, and there is also some EU level pressure to focus on this, there is still much to be done. If we want people to stop falling into the trap of misinformation, we need to help them select and understand the sea of available information. And this is only possible if our media literacy programme reaches as many schools as possible, and if journalists are supported to do their job properly," says Cristina Lupu, Executive Director, Center for Independent Journalism Romania.
"Today's challenges show us that now more than ever we need media literacy for children and young people, and we can only achieve these results by bringing together those who can make a change: journalists, teachers, children's representatives, institutional partners and civil society organizations. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Center for Independent Journalism, further developing media literacy actions aimed at bringing about medium and long-term change by fighting disinformation and misinformation," said Anna Riatti, UNICEF Representative in Romania.
To help journalists tackle sensitive topics in times of crisis, CJI's strategic media literacy approach includes trainings and mentoring sessions, as well as scholarships for journalists:
- Four meetings for Romanian journalists focusing on how to report on sensitive topics when there is no crisis, and on misinformation without amplifying it. Three of these journalists will also receive a scholarship.
- Meetings with international trainers for 20 journalists to improve their skills to report on refugees, including children refugees. 10 local journalists will be supported financially to produce materials about these topics.
CJI will also evaluate and review the status of implementation of the "Children's Rights and the Practice of Journalism - A Guide for Students" course in universities, revise it and create additional resources that will also address the rights of children refugees.
To increase awareness and skills in media literacy for children and professionals in the educational community, the media literacy programme includes:
- The second edition of the media literacy event for students and teachers similar to a "World's Largest Lesson", and organised by CJI and UNICEF’s network of teachers, with the support of the Ministry of Education. The materials will also be translated into Ukrainian so they can be used by refugee teachers and students in Romania;
- Training and mentoring for young people and children from the Romanian Children's Board and the National Student Council. Afterwards, they will be supported to disseminate media literacy through at least 10 projects implemented for their peers;
- One-day media literacy courses for children from the vulnerable communities in Bacău and Brașov supported by UNICEF;
- Media literacy courses for young people from Ukraine living in Bucharest;
- The second edition of the media literacy conference organised by CJI - an event bringing together opinion leaders, authorities, international experts, teachers and students.
In addition, CJI with support from UNICEF and the Romanian American Foundation will finalize the development of an introductory media literacy module. It will be developed and tested with partners from 10 Romanian faculties and can then be implemented by other universities. The final course will be available at the end of the academic year 2022 - 2023.
The project “Media and Information Literacy (MIL) – Tool for Increasing Adolescents Civil Participation Skills (Phase 2). Helping communities to be better protected from the infodemic” runs from August 2022 to June 2023. The project benefits from financial support from UNICEF and USAID.
 INSCOP Research, April 2021
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About the Center for Independent Journalism
The Center for Independent Journalism (CJI) is a non-governmental organization protecting democracy and those who believe in its values for over 28 years. CJI’s work is aimed at protecting freedom of expression and education. Over 15,000 media professionals, 3000 teachers and 50,000 students have been trained by CJI experts through the years. For more information about the CJI, visit:https://cji.ro/, Facebook & Instagram.