The first of two media literacy seminars, organized by AEJ and the EP Information Office in Bulgaria on the occasion of the Media Literacy Days 2020, was held at the House of Europe on February 21 in Sofia. The initiative “My Causes in Social Networks Initiative. Video Content Creation” attracted students and teachers from 11 schools across the country. They are all part of the School Ambassador Program of the European Parliament. Due to the overwhelming interest in the teacher training seminar on March 5, additional trainings for teachers took place during the event on February 21.
There are three main reasons why media literacy is at the focus of students and teachers, the organizers of the event commented. These are the problems with the rapid spread of misinformation, the introduction of social networks as a major source of news, and the interest in creating video content.
Participants in the training were introduced to the basic principles of media content creation, with an emphasis on validating the facts and techniques of creating text and video content for social networks. The journalists from the AEJ-Bulgaria team Maria Cheresheva and Fanny Bachvarova worked with the young people. They shared real-life examples of their work with text and video content and running successful social networking campaigns. The participants, in turn, shared their impressions, as well as what areas they were interested in and what are those they would like to be fulfill themselves in, creating their own content.
“I spend a lot of time on social networks. I find it very interesting, being familiar with fake news and how an article can turn from a flame into a fire on people”, says Robert Iliev, a 10th grader at Sofia 97 High School. Vlog watching is part of his daily routine as well as the thing he wants to do – making blogs or becoming a movie producer. In his opinion, all the helpful tips he has received on how to shoot and search for topics for his materials will help him develop.
Samuil Mladenov, a student in grade 10 at Paisii Hilendarski School in Zlatitsa, also has an interest in creating video content. His cause is to promote his interests in the field of IT and astronomy in Bulgaria. “I face fake news almost every day, almost everyone is confronted with these things,” he says. In relation to his participation in the seminar, he sees an application of the new knowledge he has acquired.
Now all students in the country between the ages of 14 and 18 have the opportunity to take part in the contest “My right of opinion! My causes in Social Media, ”targeting all students in the country between the ages of 14 and 18. They can create in five categories – video, podcast, photo gallery, short article, and a “story” for the social media. The top 10 participants will participate in the Youth Hackathon “Digital Solutions for Media Literacy: My Right to Think”, which will take place in the first half of April in Sofia.
“Students consume information mainly from social networks. Television, and especially newspapers, are not their preferred way of informing, and since information is very dynamic, it floods everywhere, we need to supply them with critical approach as to what information to look for, what exactly to look for and what to believe in”, says Donka Slavcheva, a psychologist at Paisii Hilendarski School.
In their activities, students re-create real-life case studies from school and analyze how things they consider to be true on social networks are afterwards conveyed as physical aggression in real life. As a major risk, Ms. Slavcheva points out that very often young people share information published by their closest friends, automatically accepting it as true.
“I think that the media environment in Bulgaria is very toxic and this has a huge impact on the development of our society,” said Robert’s teacher Sasha Tashev. He himself chose media literacy as a focus of his work with students this year.
“Misinformation: How to Resist False News and Show them Unmask them at School” is the topic of the next seminar at the House of Europe, which is also part of the Media Literacy Days 2020 and will be held on March 5th. It is intended for teachers and will include a theoretical, practical and discussion section. Journalists from AEJ will work with the lecturers. They will introduce them to media literacy training aids, various classroom exercises, and techniques for applying knowledge in this area in different disciplines.
Source: Maria Cheresheva, Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria
Images: European Parliament Liaison Office in Bulgaria