“Right to information and free speech: Disinformation in the age of digital media” took place on 18 April at New Bulgarian University
On 18 April, the Read Twice project held its first of several educational training seminars in Sofia, Bulgaria. The session was titled “The Right to Information and Freedom of Speech” and focused on building up media literacy skills and techniques for fighting disinformation.
The event was held at the New Bulgarian University and was open to students of all fields. It focused on sharing the experience of young media professionals who had participated in Read Twice’s capacity-building workshops in Berlin and Porto taught there by experts from Alliance4Europe, LUSOFONA University, Der Spiegel, Publico and Deutsche Welle among others.
Read Twice is a project funded by the EU’s C.E.R.V. programme (Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values). Its goal is to tackle disinformation and limit the spread of fake news by enhancing citizens` skills to assess information critically, identify vicious and harmful media content and distinguish between facts and opinions.
In March, the project led 30 young media professionals from Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia, three countries that rank among the lowest in terms of media literacy, according to the 2021 Media Literacy Index, to valuable capacity-building workshops in Porto and Berlin.
The training seminar
Now as part of the second project stage, the session at New Bulgarian University allowed the young professionals to transmit their newly-acquired knowledge to their peers. The focus was on the human rights aspect of the problem with disinformation, as the right to truth and freedom of speech and information forms the basis of a democratic society. Consequently, diminishing these rights diminishes the strength of any democracy, an opinion seconded by Joseph Borrel, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Additionally, the trainers also focused on the digital aspect of information, as well as all the new challenges of AI tools. As a counterpoint, they also showcased new digital techniques for fact-checking such as CrowdTangle, InVid and Public Editor.
The seminar covered a wide range of subjects related to disinformation, from the role human emotions and emotional manipulation play in the spread of fake news to the classic journalistic methods for fact-checking, as well as practical methods of distinguishing AI-generated images from real ones.
The lecturers included Yoana Nencheva, head of the Political Science Club in NBU, Teodora Stamenova, member of the Youth Council for the city of Sofia, Vanina Ninova, researcher at the Centre for European Refugees, Migration and Ethnic Studies, Roberta Koleva, anthropologist and freelance journalist, Valentin Aleksandrov and Mila Simeonova, students from Sofia University and Eneya Georgieva, editor at Forbes Bulgaria.