What is media education and why do we need it in the 21st century, from what sources do we inform ourselves and what is their credibility, what is manipulation and how are we manipulated through news, entertainment and advertising? These topics were discussed together with a group of elderly people from Fetesti village, Edinet district, who participated in a media education workshop, held by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) on June 26, 2022.
Mariana Tabuncic, program manager at IJC, highlighted the role of media education in the 21st century, stating that in the information age in which we live media education is part of the range of basic skills such as writing, reading or counting.
“In the information ocean in which we live, we need a reliable compass, which helps us to guide ourselves, especially since the information flow increases daily. This compass is represented by knowledge in the field of media education. Media education is necessary not only for your generation, which has grown up in conditions of information deficit, but also for the young generation that is “familiar” with technologies”, said Mariana Tabuncic.
She also mentioned that today we have many sources of information (TV, radio, internet), and the information wave we are surrounded by is chaotic and has a stunning speed. “In order to understand the information that reaches us, we must consume it without haste, checking it and analysing it from several sources. Namely by selecting the information on the pieces, facts and truths, without making hasty conclusions, we will be able to obtain a clear picture of the events, in order to make our own conclusions and not allow anyone to mislead us”, said the IJC program manager.
Media expert Viorica Zaharia referred to the manipulation techniques used in the media, presenting concrete examples of what a manipulative news or a fake debate looks like, how propaganda, entertainment or advertising influence our decision-making.
“Experience proves that manipulation and misinformation techniques become very subtle, so often we do not even realize how this influences our behaviour. Those who use such techniques have learned how to play with our emotions to make us overlook the important aspects. We must be aware that strong emotions disconnect critical thinking”, said Viorica Zaharia.
According to her, along with the increasing importance of the information product, most of it does not help us guide ourselves in the information space, but, on the contrary, pursues the goal of disorienting us and making decisions that do not correspond to our interests.
To better understand this, together with Viorica Zaharia, the participants also carried out practical exercises that convinced them how much advertising influences our decisions, and the films promote certain stereotypes and unworthy behaviours.
The participants in the workshop watched several videos made by the IJC that helped them realize how important it is to get information from several sources, in order to avoid information intoxication.
Tamara Ursan, former school principal: “When I look at information on a television channel, I always try to find the same information on other channels. I like to find out the truth by comparison – what did some say, how did others represent? And I make my own conclusion. I always want to have my own opinion in relation to the information I hear, look at or read”.
Paulina Cojocari, former accountant: “Since I know myself, I have liked to be an informed person. Even now, at retirement age, I am connected to all sources of information. I read newspapers, I watch TV, I listen to the radio, and I use my mobile phone. I would like that journalists tell us only real facts, not fakes”.
Maria Seuta, former mathematics teacher: “I lived in the Soviet period, when you were thinking of one, but you were supposed to say and to talk about something else. Today is another time and my desire for the younger generation is to fight for justice. Especially journalists to do their job honestly, because justice is always revealed. As my father said – “we have to live honestly, without any fear”.
Lina Seu, former French teacher: “Every morning I switch on both the radio and the television. I listen to the news from two sides to understand who is lying and who is telling the truth. Then I talk to the neighbours, find out other opinions. I would also have a great desire – to have as many live phone shows as possible so that when discussing a topic that interests us, we can ask new questions. Let us not just be the journalist and the guest, because we also have something to say. We would call, but we do not have where to do it”.
Paulina Rusu, former teacher: “I was very pleased with the meeting I attended. I leave with a lot of positive energy because I discussed something for the soul. I prefer political topics and if I talk to someone, I only talk about politics. Especially during the elections, they are always in conflict with their neighbours. They immediately ask me: What did I find out? At what channel? Who said? And I always strive to be informed from several sources. Otherwise, I get sick from false news and rumours”.
The activity is part of the project “Building cohesion in Moldova through promoting social inclusion and diminishing discrimination” is carried out by the Independent Journalism Center as part of the program “Joint Initiative for Equal Opportunities – Phase II”, implemented from the resources provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).