On December 6, 2022, a group of young men and women with special needs, members of the “Protected Housing” Social Service and the Group of Self-Representatives from Falesti District took part in a media education workshop held by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC). During the event, the participants were informed about several notions in the sphere of media education (such as manipulation, misinformation, trolls, general rules of online behavior, etc.) which they had not had the chance to decipher until that moment.
“Media education is one of the IJC’s most splendid projects for promoting media culture and critical consumption of information in society,” Mariana Tabuncic, IJC program manager, mentioned. She also said that “the need for media education has been increasing lately, as we have to tell fakes from credible news every day.” “We live in the times when, regardless of our social status, studies, or profession, all of us need to be aware of media education to avoid manipulation and online fakes. Only an informed person is a protected person,” the IJC representative explained while involving the young people in a number of interactive activities aimed at teaching them how to avoid informational intoxication.
Journalist Diana Raileanu joined the discussions about what media education is and how necessary it is for us currently, in the 21st century, during the avalanche of information via media channels and social networks. “I’d like to urge you to give up informing yourself by means of ‘I’ve heard it somewhere’ or ‘someone has told me.’ Learn to think and individually analyze the information you see in the press or on social networks and check it by using several sources,” the journalist encouraged the audience.
Diana Raileanu provided a number of examples to the young people to demonstrate the tricks by which the public is often manipulated or misled. “It should always be kept in mind that when there is a certain interest on the part of certain politicians to keep their power or on the part of some businessmen, they could resort to manipulation techniques via the media. Critical thinking is our weapon against manipulation and misinformation. If you feel confused or frustrated while reading a news story, the first thing you have to do is ask yourself: is this news story based on one source or several sources? Or maybe it has no source at all, only the opinion of the journalist/author of the material? In this case, try to trace the same news on another TV channel, on the radio, and in the print media, and compare, analyze, and filter it. In other words, think critically. As a result of such a check, you will always be able to tell who informs you and who manipulates you. It is your right to be correctly informed instead of being misinformed!” the journalist concluded.
At the end of the Media Education Workshop, the participants mentioned that they found the meeting to be quite useful and necessary for them to understand reality better and to know how to protect their identity online.
Lilia Neghin, “Protected Housing” Social Service manager: It has been a welcome training. No matter who we are – children or elderly people – all of us need knowledge in the sphere of media education. We are often disappointed by what we hear, see, or listen to. Hence, we will always need media knowledge!
Ludmila Jalba, head of the Group of Self-Representatives coordinated by Keystone Moldova: Recently, we have gotten used to holding meeting mostly online. Such activities where young people with special needs socialize and communicate are held very seldom and therefore are welcome. These young people spend hours on social networks due to limited access to communication. The information they have obtained today will be useful for them to have a proper digital identity, to stay correctly informed, and not to be provoked to trust any fake news.
Anghelina Jalba, young woman with special needs: In my opinion, we still need a lot of training. Today, we have learned that we need to get some information additional to what we occasionally find on the Internet or watch on TV, to learn to analyze the news, to distinguish fake news, and to avoid them. We have also learned that, be able to avoid them, we have to ask ourselves many questions.
Maria Ivascu, young woman with special needs: During today’s activity, I have realized that what we hear is not always true. We need to find information from multiple sources and filter everything we hear or read.
Tamara Andries, young woman with special needs: For the first time, I have found out who trolls are and what they do. I’ll be more careful when someone sends me a friend request on social networks. I will think about whether I should reply or not, whether I know a particular person or not. I really appreciate that you have provided adapted information easy to understand for us.
Catalina Furtuna, young woman with special needs: When we post on social networks we must be careful about the audience we are addressing. I’ve found out today that everything we publish in virtual space remains there. Even if we could delete some comments or photos later, it might already be too late, and we may regret it.
The activity is part of the project “Building social cohesion in Moldova through promoting inclusion and diminishing discrimination” 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).