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Digital Media Literacy in EDMO Round Table: ADMO

Digital Media Literacy in EDMO Round Table: ADMO

This interview is part of the ”Digital Media Literacy in EDMO Round Table’‘ interview series that will be published every month to highlight the work of the 14 EDMO hubs. Conducted by the Media & Learning Association (MLA).

ADMO

Who are the leading players in the Adriatic region (Croatia and Slovenia) when it comes to promoting media literacy?

ADMO cherishes teamwork and we are really focused on collective action more than emphasising individual successes. As in most other activities, media literacy implies joint cooperation of all involved partners. We believe that well-organised teamwork leads to the best results.

ADMO grew out of a previous small scale project called Pro-fact, whose consortium consisted more or less of all partners who are now located in the regional hub. As in Pro-fact, so in ADMO, Gong coordinates and carries out most activities related to media literacy. Of course, we do all this in cooperation with our ADMO media and academy partners. AFP and Oštro fact-check, the N1 television, which is a regional partner of CNN, produces the show N1 (DIS)INFO and a television program that focuses on issues related to disinformation, while Gong conducts training and education in media literacy in the digital sphere. Our training sessions are intended for students of journalism, while the program of the workshops is for interested citizens. The workshops also have a geographical diversification component.

Gong, together with other partners, primarily the University of Dubrovnik, carries on the campaigns focused on media literacy and promotion of the project’s results.

Do you have any idea as to how media-literate people in this region are generally? Are there any types of measures that can be used to assess this over time?

Croatian citizens have shallow trust in the media, which has been declining even more in recent years (only 34% of citizens trust most of the information published in the press most of the time).

For most of them, the primary medium for information is television. Research on media habits conducted in 2022 shows that over 76% of Croatian citizens also use the Internet on their mobile phones daily.

As many as 76% of respondents claim that they often come across fake news, while the average in the EU is slightly lower, 69%. The perception of the frequency of encountering fake news can largely indicate the poor quality of the media content we are surrounded by, as well as the probability that consumers are not aware that a large part of this content is not all classic media forms from established and reputable newsrooms.

Almost a third of citizens participating in this research claim that it is difficult to judge whether some news on the Internet is real or fake. Citizens are most concerned about the truth of the information they receive on Facebook (55%), portals or applications for news distribution (54.3%), YouTube (46.1%), via mobile communication applications (e.g., WhatsApp, Viber) (41,2 %) and on Twitter (33.9%). Most (84%) believe fake news is a severe problem for their country.

Citizens need knowledge and skills obtained through non-formal media literacy education to resist disinformation. In addition to this education, which civil society organisations mostly carry out, investing in the media sector and strengthening quality journalism is necessary.

Although there is media literacy content in the Croatian language curriculum for primary and secondary school students and sporadically in other cross-curricular curricula, it is insufficient considering the needs. That is why Gong has advocated for years the introduction of Civic Education as a compulsory subject that would deal with media literacy topics to a greater extent.

What are the main challenges you face in promoting media literacy in these two countries?

Although media literacy is one of the critical competencies of the 21st century, there is still no strategic approach to this area in Croatia.

Only some social actors recognise media literacy as a competence that would enable more citizens to acquire critical thinking skills for analyzing and understanding media and content and recognising the difference between facts and opinions, as well as accurate and inaccurate information.

Institutional promotion of media literacy is limited to individual initiatives such as the website medijskapismenost.hr. There is no unique practice in implementing curricula of cross-curricular topics that contain media literacy. This implementation often depends on the teachers themselves taking the initiative.

Research conducted by civil society organisations in Croatia shows that most teachers and Croatian language teachers believe that they do not have enough time or competence to carry out quality media education.

That is why all citizens who want to acquire specific knowledge and skills and develop resistance to misinformation must acquire knowledge independently or participate in informal education.

What value do you think EDMO and the network of EDMO hubs in particular bring to the challenge of fighting disinformation and promoting media literacy in Croatia and Slovenia?

EDMO is certainly a very important multidisciplinary center that is providing many resources to combat disinformation at the EU level. The cooperation of the hubs could pressure for more adequate application of legislation, hold very large digital platforms and politicians accountable, and be recognised as expert voices in the EU public sphere.

However, for us, countries from the periphery of the EU, it seems that this cooperation could be more concrete and visible. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we have only just begun to build a European network of hubs that will lead the fight against disinformation.

What plans do you have in relation to media literacy for the next 12 months for ADMO?

Next year is a super election for Croatia. In addition to the EU elections, parliamentary and presidential elections will also be held in Croatia. As previous experiences have taught us, elections and election campaigns are fertile ground for disinformation narratives, so we expect a lot of intensive work.

In addition to public awareness, information and education, ADMO will conduct training for students, education for citizens, organise public events with the theme of elections, debunk disinformation narratives related to campaigns and clarify how dangerous disinformation is during election time. We will also intensify our advocacy and public communication component in the coming period.

Svjetlana-Knezevic
Svjetlana Knežević
Deputy Executive Director and Head of Communications, Gong, Croatia

Deputy Executive Director and Head of Communications, Gong, Croatia

Milica-Bogdanovic
Milica Bogdanović
Coordinator of educational activities, Gong, Croatia

Coordinator of educational activities, Gong, Croatia