Some 60 media literacy experts, activists, media professionals, and decision makers from the Western Balkans will gather at the “Media for Citizens, Citizens for Media,” a conference scheduled for 23 November in Novi Sad, Serbia.
Learning about the state of MIL in Western Balkans
The aim of the conference is to provide fresh, up to date insights into regional circumstances affecting MIL developments in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, highlighting MIL activities, initiatives and strategies.
Organised as part of the ’Media for Citizens – Citizens for Media’ project, the event will also facilitate regional exchange on diverse ways of advancing MIL practice and policy, with successes and failures shared and learned from.
“Our aim is to have everyone leave Novi Sad encouraged with new ideas on how to empower citizens to better understand media environment in our countries, how to engage with such diverse media of today in more responsible and safe way,” said Maida Muminović from Mediacentar Sarajevo, the project coordinator.
Overview of MIL Policies and Practice in Western Balkans
The gathering will open with presentation of preliminary findings of a country specific research on the state of play when it comes to MIL policies and practices. In-depth research papers on each country as well as a regional overview will be published after the conference.
Conducted between April and October 2018 in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, the research included developing of a joint definition of MIL; examination of relevant literature on MIL in each country; mapping of main MIL actors in each country (classified in 11 types); mapping of main MIL initiatives in each country and at a regional level (taking into account five categories of media literacy skills); selection of topics for country-specific thematic research to meet the research needs in each country; and implementation of the thematic research.
Download preliminary introduction chapters here:
Findings and recommendations from the preliminary country MIL research will be discussed with key stakeholders. Outcomes will serve as valuable inputs for elaboration of final recommendations to policy and decision makers, to be presented in the regional publication.
MIL Policies Falling Behind MIL Practice
The second session will examine whether MIL policies keep up with MIL practice in the region. The aim is to get realistic insights and inputs for nationally based advocacy efforts to take place in the next two years as part of the ’Media for Citizens – Citizens for Media’ project. CSOs seem to be taking leading roles in providing citizens with skills and knowledge about the media, whereas government institutions seem to struggle with developing much needed policy response. Therefore, practitioners from the CSO, media and education sectors will discuss how they might benefit from more effective MIL policies, while policy makers will elaborate on inputs from society they need and problems in changing legislation and regulation and implementing existing strategies.
MIL Developments in Media, Education and CSOs’ programs
Three parallel sessions will provide useful lessons and examples for future national initiatives. One will discuss the role of the media and creative industries in MIL initiatives and examples of media-led MIL initiatives in the region. Another will focus on CSOs-led MIL initiatives with a discussion on sustainability of CSO initiatives and examples of successful CSO MIL programs. Yet another session will tackle the sensitive issue of MIL in education systems, with a focus on ways of overcoming challenges of introducing MIL to public schools.
MIL as a Solution for Strengthening Trust in Media?
A closing discussion will examine if MIL could be the answer to declining media freedom indicators in the region and what the role and expectations from media outlets are in an environment increasingly concerned with MIL issues. Will media literate citizens reward high quality, ethical and responsible journalism with trust? Can more engaged audiences help reduce political and economic pressures on the media? How do media representatives see the role of MIL in the fight for integrity of the profession and how they see their role in it?
The event is part of the EU-funded project ’Media for Citizens – Citizens for Media: Strengthening the Capacity of NGOs for the Development of Media and Information Literacy in the Western Balkans’ (2018-2021), which aims to build the capacities of CSOs with a wide range of activities to advance media and information literacy in the Western Balkans.
A group of six SEENPM (South East European Network for Professionalization of Media) members, led by Mediacentar Sarajevo, implement the project.
Read more about the project ’Media for Citizens – Citizens for Media’
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You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any information about the project.