The idea is to borrow know-how and transmit good practices from more experienced societies in the West to newer democracies in the East
Euro Advance Association (Bulgaria) is heading a new project called Read Twice (R2) that aims to tackle the issue of media illiteracy and the spread of disinformation among the youth. In essence, the project will select media-savvy young people from Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia, who will first go through capacity-building trainings in Portugal and Germany and then using their upgraded skills and influence will teach other youngsters practical ways to recognize and counter disinformation.
The initiative, which was launched last week, is set to last for 18 months – from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2024 under the umbrella of the European Commission’s Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (CERV).
To achieve these goals, Euro Advance Association is partnering with Udruga Echo (Croatia) and Se Poate (Romania) as the NGOs from Eastern Europe seeking to boost media literacy in their national contexts. The other partners of Read Twice (R2) are Lusofona University (Portugal) and Alliance 4 Europe (Germany), which will take up the role of the mentors and impart good and robust practices in terms of fostering more media-literate citizenship in the EU.
The project also previews several local events for stakeholders, as well as a webinar and a final conference to raise the awareness of new forms of disinformation spread and discuss working ways to prevent it.
Filling the media literacy gap in Europe
According to the 2021 Media Literacy Index compiled by the Open Society Foundation, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria are somewhere in the bottom in that regard – a fact that greatly hinders the development prospects of their citizens and societies in a rapidly digitalizing world rife with multiple information sources and a mix of useful information, not-so-useful data and downright harmful propaganda.
The silver lining lies in the new generations, which is why the three organisations from the Eastern European countries will select thirty media-proficient young people, who will have the goal and enthusiasm to expand their skillset in that sphere.
The selected participants will act both as mentees and mentors as the year 2023 progresses. Sometime in the spring, they will undergo two specialized trainings organized by Lusofona University and Alliance 4 Europe (A4E). Returning to their countries of origin, the media practitioners will have the task of sharing what they have learned to wider audiences of young people. The latter activities will be done through stakeholders’ seminars and media literacy workshops, set to take place in the autumn of 2023.
The timing of the start of this initiative is well placed as the EU is celebrating its Year of the Youth. In addition, the European Commission has proposed setting up a European Board for Media Services composed of representatives from national media authorities of all Member States. The latter is meant to serve as a reliable body to ensure pluralistic media sources on our continent that are free from harmful interference.
Read Twice (R2) has received funding under Grant Agreement n. 101081326, from the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) under the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (CERV) programme.