THE TWO- WAY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JOURNALISTS AND NEWS CONSUMERS DURING THE “CRISIS” FROM 2011 UNTIL TODAY: THE GREEK CASE, AMIReatreat 2017, LIMASSOL

In many countries today the relationship between citizens and journalists appears “injured” and citizens seem not to trust in media and their role. This is evident in the readers’ opinions about the news, as expressed publicly online, revealing the fragile balance between the necessity of citizens to be informed and their opinion of the validity of media in general and journalistic content in specific.

Case Study: In the context of the crisis in the Greek media sector we have studied the citizens – journalists relationship as recorded in users’ comments on social media. Our corpus consisted of approximately 5,000 messages from a sample of at least 300 people commenting on several articles published on the www.jaj.gr platform. In the framework of the international debate regarding the reliability of ‘institutional’ media a qualitative study has been conducted to attempt an answer to the following working questions: (1) how do Greek news providers and consumers behave on the online media? (2) do news consumers seem able to differentiate between relevant/good from irrelevant/bad journalism? (3) do they correlate the current media crisis in terms of “freedom of the press” to their own freedom for information? (4) do they understand where the problem lies? (5) is their acceptance of the content’s substance influenced by their general beliefs about journalists, as revealed in their comments?

Based on the findings we have attempted to investigate whether it is possible, and how, to reinstate trust in the citizen-journalists’ relationship. Furthermore, we have tried to conclude on the commentators’ news literacy adequacy judging from their comprehension of each specific published article.

EVENT/ONE DAY WORKSHOP: My Story, Migrants and Media Σεπτέμβριος 2017

Sissy Alonistiotou and Katerina Chrysanthopoulou represented the Institute as expert speakers at event MyStory, Migrants and Media of the European program www.mystoryproject.eu; they analyzed the case of Brexit and documented how much voters in the British referendum on Britain’s exit from the EU were affected by certain politicians, who promoted distorted depictions of immigrants in their election campaigns.

FAKE NEWS: WHO WILL STOP THEM?

The spreading of false news is not a new phenomenon, but nowadays -because of the internet- it has scaled up, poisoning public speech, eroding information and threatening personalities, businesses, states, the very essence of truth. In a country, like Greece, where the Internet has the first place in the news, we are in flames.

The Corporate Affairs Division of Hellenic Management Association (EEDE) organized a discussion panel on “Fake News” Who will stop them?” On Monday, July 10, 2017, at the Public Bookstore at Syntagma Square, Athens. The event highlighted aspects of the particularly widespread phenomenon, where journalists and communication specialists presented the concept and story of fake news, talked about the role of professional journalists, reflected on the roots of the phenomenon, and discussed the institutional framework. MLI was represented by Sissy Alonistiotou. They also referred to the sociological/ psychological context and presented specific Case Studies.

 FIRST GREEK MEDIA LITERACY WEEK, 4-10 December  2017

The first in Greece open and publicly organized approach to familiarize Greek citizens with new ways we access and interpret all kinds of information and messages on traditional or new media, from newspapers, TV or radio to internet platforms. This initiative of MEDIA LITERACY INSTITUTE (MLI) and its newsroom Journalists About Journalism (JAJ) was supported and complemented by the Peace Journalism Lab of the Department of Journalism and Mass Media, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Communication sponsors were Athens 9.84 radio station, the Information and Communications Society of Thessaloniki (Fm100, TV100) and the Association of Journalists of Thessaloniki.

The aim of the event was to make people of all ages aware that new media and communication tools give them new power and new rights, that they have ways to discern fake news from reliable news, that they can learn how to judge messages on digital and traditional media and that everyone can have a creative and responsible involvement in social media and, in general, in the digital world; these issues in the 21st century are crucial to defending democratic values and improving our everyday life. Our campaign included radio spots in several municipal radios across the country, relevant publications on our websites and http://www.athina984.gr, explanatory videos, reportage and discussion panel in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Participants in the Thessaloniki panel: Sofia Aslanidou – Professor of the Department of Pedagogy and Technology, Deputy President of DEPTHE, Andreas Veglis – Professor at Department of Journalism and Mass Media of Aristotle University, Sofia Theodosiadou – Doctoral Student at Aristotle University, Yannis Kotsifos- Director of Association of Journalists of Thessaloniki, Grigoris Paschalidis – Professor at Department of Journalism and Mass Media AUTh, Periklis Politis – Associate Professor at Department of Journalism and Mass Media AUTh, Nikos Panagiotou – Assistant Professor at Department of Journalism and Mass Media AUTh, Thomas Siomos – Journalist PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Journalism and Mass Media, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Philios Stangos – Director of Information and Communications Society of Thessaloniki.

V.A.N (VIOLENCE AGAINST NEWS PERSONS)

Media Literacy Institute and JAJ joined forces with European Communication InstituteMedia Governance & Industries Research Lab of University of Vienna, and South East Europe Media Organizationwith the support of the European Parliament in an attempt to develop and curate an Observatory on Violence against, not just Journalists, but on the entire News Producing Community.

World Press Freedom Day comes in 2017 as a central theme in Fora, Social Media platforms, conferences, citizen groups, even political Agendas (see US president Trump’s use of ‘Fake News ’, challenged Media reliability, and more).

It is common sense to regard News Quality in the Digital age as determining a) everyday Life quality, and b) Democracy itself. Therefore all issues affecting the re-invented properties of a “Newsperson” are of importance.

This is the starting point of this Initiative.

Experience has it that all staff, all ranks, skills, all members of the Press Industry, are potential victims of Violence. VAN is where these incidents are gathered, processed, compared, forming data for meaningful analysis and future Policymaking. Further, it is a User Generated Content meeting point, where those events are categorized and shared.

Violence is more than Physical assault. The Project invites recordings of semantic, psychological, hierarchic and other types of Violence on the VAN timeline. As most incidents fall under more than one category it aspires that an organized glimpse in this dark aspect of News Making, will alert societies and change the ways the News profession is regarded.

VAN’s official Presentation was made at the main Europarliament hall in Athens, on May 3rd, 2017, World Press Freedom Day.

ECI aspires that VAN is the first step, towards developing a Freedom of Press Index which shall assist Academia, the Press Industry, and the Business community to make better- informed choices. Hopefully, its findings will also assist Policy Making to be it in a local, regional or European level.

 

FAKE NEWS: HOW WE REACT? 20 April 2018, Thessaloniki, Kavala

The Secretary – General of the European Federation of Journalists, Ricardo Guttierez expressed his deep concern about the “dangerous laws” that governments across Europe and the world apply to address misinformation and fake news, in a video message at an event in Thessaloniki, during a meeting of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Delegation in Greece, the Association of Editors of Daily Newspapers of Macedonia-Thrace (ESIMEM) and the Department of Journalism and Mass Media of Aristotle University. He pointed out that censorship “is not in many ways the right way (to manage the phenomenon)” and that it is not within the competence of governments to decide what is true and what is not.

Media Literacy Institute contributed to the discussion by promoting the position that bias is the most important factor in intermingling at the birth of fake news. Sissy Alonistiotou, MLI Director showed bias as the number one factor in dealing with fake news. “Prejudices are what determine to a very large extent the practice of the journalistic profession and the audience’s positions” she noted, adding that journalistic bias is a much more important factor in this respect than dishonesty, or brawl, for which journalists are often accused. “It is very easy for a journalist, without any intention, to fall victim to his own prejudices, his own ignorance” she noted stressing that many journalists – and their associations – have forgotten the code of ethics of journalistic duties while underlining the interdependence of public education and journalists.

 

INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM ON MEDIA LITERACY, LISBON, 20 April 2018

Media literacy is a growing field with a need for developing and increasing the research within it.   With each conference, we hope to shorten the present gap by filling it with works from current scholars, new researchers, graduate students, educators and others who have a vested interest in opening this field and moving it forward from all over the world.

Katerina Chryssanthopoulou presented the paper titled: Media literacy: concepts and misconceptions (or the risk to use the same term to report on different sets of skills).

A significant risk when reporting about the status of Media Literacy in any sector lies in definitions. Different interpretations of key MIL terms (either on substantial or merely preferential terms) may lead to misconceptions, which may misdirect assessment of citizens’ needs, thus obscure appropriate policy making.

MIL researchers know that Media Literacy as a concept is not identical to Media Education, though the two overlap in some areas. In general terms, Media Education is “the process of teaching and learning about media” (Buckingham, 2003); while Media Literacy consists of a series of communication competencies, including the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication (National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), 2016). UNESCO has promoted the concept of Media and Information Literacy (MIL), arguing that in the digital age, media literacy should integrate with information literacy and ICT skills so that people can learn how to handle media messages and information coming from all sources and platforms (Wilson, Grizzle, TuazonAkyempong, & Cheung, 2011).

However, frequently these terms are confused both in public discourse and in practice. For example, when reporting about the sector of education, experience shows that MIL is sometimes interpreted as Media Education or merely Digital Literacy.


During the last decade, MIL concepts have been introduced in the public discourse in Greece, and several organized activities take place. How accurate, though, are we when we use all the different “literacy” terms? Let’s take the example of formal education.

In Greek schools, Media Literacy as such is not included in the formal curriculum. In summary, the Greek education system is characterized by a high quantity of information, fragmentary approaches, and neglect of soft skills:

  • It is heavily content-based: students deal with masses of information, but they do not really learn how to use, analyze and benefit from it.
  • Skills like critical thinking, analysis, evaluation, deduction, abstracting or finding suitable sources are not given enough attention at school.
  • Educators are not usually adequately trained in media -or sometimes even digital- skills, since MIL subjects are not covered in most pedagogic schools in Universities. Even during their teaching practice, teachers do not have opportunities to receive much MIL training: for example, the (not so many) ICT courses officially offered to teachers by the State do not guide them to use technology in the classroom, but rather focus on issues like the difference between RAM and ROM memory in desktop computers!
  • And, yet, there is a “Fake news” column on Ministry’s website!

In secondary education, most students are already expert users of mobile devices. But when they are requested to do homework research, they often just Google some words (not always the suitable keywords) and copy paste the first results returned. Apart from the quality and relevance of the data returned by search engines, in comparison to the accumulated structured and evaluated general human knowledge, the main problem in such practices is that students are getting used to the easy solution of the one-size-fits-all online search source.

ICT training is included in the national curriculum (in the Ministry’s programs’ mission statements in the last decade we can read that subjects as ICT skills, ICT literacy, Digital literacy or Knowledge Society are included in secondary and primary education). Also, code programming or STEAM activities are occasionally offered as an extra course in some schools, which participate in certain programs, or relevant after-school activities are organized at the schools’ premises (either by the school itself, or local authorities, or by Parents’ Associations, which have turned into a flexible vehicle to introduce such initiatives).

In general, Media Literacy has significantly improved in Greece in recent years: international bibliography is translated into Greek, organizations are being established, relevant content is being created, academic papers are produced, public and private entities implement projects and NGOs have started working for the promotion of MIL skills in a more organized way. Their activities span from content production in the Greek language to the creation of internet safety guidelines or to the design of specialized training for the general public.

However, in general, Media Literacy Skills at school

– Are usually offered on an ad hoc basis, depending on educator’s own knowledge and motivation;

– Are often presented as “digital skills” or “internet safety guidelines“;

– Are frequently confused with ICT practical skills;

– Are not yet introduced in the formal national curriculum or in the classroom practices; further, they are not prioritized in teachers’ training programs, or in the production & use of educational multimedia tools.

MLI TAKES PART IN DIGITAL ASSEMBLY 2018, INVITED BY THE BULGARIAN PRESIDENCY OF THE EU COUNCIL

The Digital Assembly 2018 is hosted by the European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, and the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Digital Assembly is an annual forum where high- level policymakers and stakeholders come together to debate EU digital policy. It offers a unique opportunity for frank and future-focused discussions, as well as invaluable networking opportunities.

A detailed program is available on the Digital Assembly webpage

The Digital Assembly is a major annual forum that gathers more than 1,000 stakeholders and high-level policymakers to debate the EU digital policy and the implications of recent technological developments.

This year’s edition came at a crucial time as the European Council has called for the full implementation of the Digital Single Market strategy by 2018. At the same time, the Commission proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework is being discussed by the Member States and the European Parliament. Part of the future long-term budget of the EU will be used to bridge digital investment gaps between the Member States and tackle challenges in key areas of the digital economy. A large number of EU citizens and businesses is expected to benefit from such a process.

The Assembly also wrapped up a series of important achievements that the Bulgarian Presidency brought in the policy area of the Digital Single Market:

NEWS: WHAT AND HOW WE BELIEVE: THE IMPORTANCE OF NEWS LITERACY FOR DEMOCRACY

In this context, MLI  organizes a series of open workshops on News, Democracy and News Literacy. Under the general title “News: What and how we “believe”: the importance of news education for Democracy” Sissy Alonistiotou organized a first workshop/Presentation during the conference created by ASFA (The Garden Of Dystopian Pleasures curated by FYTA & The Ministry of Post Truth.

MLI AT MIND OVER MEDIA WORKSHOP, BRUSSELS, 13 NOVEMBER 2018

In January 2018 a consortium of 7 EU partners from Belgium, Poland, France, Finland, Romania, and Croatia will launch a year-long international project to teach and learn about contemporary propaganda as inspired by the ever-changing world of news, entertainment, advertising, and social media.

Students and teachers in every country in Europe and all around the world get exposure to many forms of increasingly sophisticated and potentially beneficial and harmful propaganda through their mobiles, tablets, and laptops and in public spaces in their neighborhoods and communities. They make wise and well-informed decisions in choosing which propaganda to share with their social networks. Informal and informal contexts, they benefit from opportunities to engage deeply in conversations about contemporary social, political and cultural issues and topics, analyzing the special features of new forms of propaganda, including memes, viral media, and content marketing that we now experience through online social networks. People access meaningful critique of propaganda through mass media, including on television and in newspapers and magazines. Educators at all levels include the study of contemporary propaganda in the language, social studies, and science curriculum because they understand the importance of preparing students for 21st -century citizenship, building competencies and life skills that prepare students to be fully engaged in robust dialogue and deliberation of controversial issues of public concern.

High levels of public apathy and disengagement are combining with growing political polarization in ways that challenge the future of democracy in Europe and around the world. Concerns about terrorism, migration/immigration, Islamophobia, radicalization, and populist and extremist forms of nationalism grow larger with each passing month. Educators want to address these concerns but need ideas, lesson plans, and digital education resources and tools that help them support the development of learners’ critical thinking skills in ways that promote tolerance, increase intellectual curiosity, and build an appreciation of diverse perspectives and interpretations.

For these reasons we created “Mind over Media in EU”. This project aims at developing a European network of educators and professionals and to create an educational multilingual (7 EU languages + English) crowdsourced online platform Mind over Media. Thanks to the platform, its users learn how to recognize propaganda, rate examples, interpret their messages and assess their impact, browse and sort examples uploaded on the site and upload and share examples from their communities. The platform actions will be accompanied by sets of contextualized educational resources and online and offline workshops and seminars for teachers, librarians, and media leaders.

The project will be developed by the Evens Foundation team in cooperation with the Association for Communication and Media Culture (Croatia), Center for Citizenship Education (Poland), Finnish Society on Media EducationIMEC / Mediawijs (Belgium), Mediawise Society (Romania), and Media Maker / Citizen Press (France).

The scientific supervisor of the project will be Prof. Renee Hobbs from the Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island’s Harrington School of Communication and Media who is the creator of Mind over Media methodology and platform.

Check the news about the project here: www.mindovermedia.eu.com

Mind over Media is an initiative of the Evens Foundation implemented in collaboration with project partners.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT 2018

On the occasion of the award of the Sakharov Prize for 2018 to Oleg Sentiff, Sissy Alonistiotou spoke at the Greek Section of the European Parliament in Athens about the value of journalism and citizens’ Journalism as “guards” of democratic values, freedom of speech and human rights.

CRISIS REPORTING, EJTA TEACHERS’ CONFERENCE 2018

Sissy Alonistiotou participated in the presentation on the coverage of the lethal fire in Mati, Attica, Greece in the summer of 2018 by Greek traditional and new media.

GREEK MEDIA LITERACY WEEK 19-26 NOV. 2018

The Week promotes the importance of MIL today, in the framework of formal, informal and lifelong learning, and focuses on information and misinformation issues, which are critical to defending democratic values and improving our daily lives. The aim is to familiarize readers of all ages with basic principles and concepts so that they can judge and control the online and printed content they read, reproduce or create, as well as the content they share in social networking applications, media and on all kinds of popular communication platforms.

Events during the week: online information campaign, radio spots on local radio stations across the country, videos, reportage, online publications, hands-on workshops in Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as an international panel on “Information and disinformation in southeastern Europe” in Thessaloniki.

Workshops in Athens:

19 / 11

  • Screening Media Literacies(Irene Andriopoulou, EKOME Educational Programs)
  • Propaganda and the Internet: Guidelines for Effective Online Propaganda(Stamatis Poulakidakos, University of Athens, Instructor at the Laboratory of the Department of Communication & Media, Kapodistrian University)
  • Media Literacy: The Need of the 21st Century(Katerina Chryssanthopoulou, Cognitive Scientist, Managing Partner at MLI, Ph.D. Student of Media Literacy at AUTh)

20 / 11

  • Introduction to Data Journalism(Florens Tselai, Data Scientist)
  • Our social media image(Maria Kozakou, Journalist, Social Media Expert)
  • Misinformation as part of Russia’s military doctrine(Dimitris Triantafyllidis, Journalist, Russian History and Politics Expert)

All workshops will take place at the Serafeion Cultural Center of the City of Athens, hosted in the framework of the Athens World Book Capital 2018. This year our Media & Information Literacy Week focuses on information and misinformation issues that are critical to defending democratic values and improving our daily lives. In this framework we organize:

A Panel in Thessaloniki: “Disinformation and Addressing Propaganda in South Eastern Europe” with participants from Greek and international organizations.

The second cycle of the Institute’s Open Workshop in Thessaloniki: “News: What and how we “believe”: the importance of news literacy for Democracy” (Dr. Christos Fragonikolopoulos, Associate Professor, Department of Journalism and Media (AUTh), Director of Peace Journalism Lab, Dr. Nikos Panagiotou, Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism and Media (AUTh), Scientific Adviser at MLI & JAJ)

The week brings together many experts in the field from Greece and Europe and is supported by communication sponsor KATHIMERINI newspaper, as well as Athens 9.84 Radio, Fm100-TV100 Municipal Information and Communication Center at Thessaloniki and Thessaloniki Journalists’ Association (ESIEMTH).

This initiative is part of the Institute’s vision for “MIL literate” societies, through the creation of online content, research journalism, capacity building, skills development, campaigns, curriculum development and guidelines, seminars and workshops, networking and public discussions, as well as partnerships with domestic and international organizations

MLI as partner and participant in 2018 Summer Academy organized by  School of Journalism and Mass Communications of Aristotle University Thessaloniki (AUTh).

Sissy Alonistiotou and Katerina Chryssanthopoulou presented the paper titled: “The two-way relationship between journalists and news consumers during the “crisis” from 2011 until today: The Greek case”.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications of Aristotle University Thessaloniki (AUTh), Jean Monnet Chair for European Integration Journalism along with other partners, University of Zagreb, University of Novi-Sad, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Center for Media and Information Literacy at Temple University, Deutsche Welle Akademie(DW Akademie), National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Media Literacy Institute and Proof organisation will organise the 2nd Thessaloniki International Media Summer Academy: New Trends in Media and Journalism: Disinformation, Verification of News and Constructive Journalism in a Changing World in Thessaloniki, Greece between 13th-21st July 2018.  The joint initiative brings together the reputation, expertise of respected and well-known institutions from Europe, Asia, and USA. In addition, it will have the support of established organizations, companies and think tanks.

Description:

In today’s world, accurate information is an increasingly critical resource for our understanding of the world. Building on the success of the 2017 Summer School, we are looking forward to welcoming another cohort of student participants from all over the world to Thessaloniki International Media Summer Academy. This year the Summer Academy will focus on new trends on media and journalism with an emphasis on how to deal with disinformation, fake news and verification techniques and competencies needed.

The intensive multi-disciplinary training course aims to provide in-depth knowledge and robust skills on important topics and evolutions in media and communication.  Participants in this course will emerge with a better understanding of the latest academic research, policy, market and professional trends in the focused area, as well as develop a network of colleagues to share their experiences, ideas and points of views.

The International Media Summer Academy will address and focus on issues that are timely and critically important:

  • The influence of fake news
  • Developing methods of news verification
  • New Trends in Media, Journalism, and News
  • Constructive Journalism
  • Media Literacy

DIMEE (MEDIA & COMMUNICATION LAW), 5th INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM, 2019

At the 5th International Conference of the Legal Library on “Artificial Intelligence and Law”, Sissy Alonistiotou contributed to the “When the Machines Make the News” panel.

“Media Literacy: In Search of its Concepts and Functions”

Katerina Chrysanthopoulou has contributed a chapter titled “Reading from Paper versus Digital Screen and Media Literacy” in the collective volume published in 2019 by “Midnight Editions” and the Advanced Media Institute. The volume aims to satisfy the essential need to enhance the citizen’s critical ability through education and adds to the multi-year interdisciplinary research by Sophia Iordanidou and AMI collaborators in the cross-section of Communication and Journalism Studies with Education Sciences. It is worth noting that the volume has already been approved by the Ministry of Education of Cyprus for its school libraries. After an arduous and constructive research journey the following authors have contributed their extremely original work and their accumulated experience:

  •   Academics: David Buckingham, Renee Hobbs & Amy Jensen, Paul Mihailidis, Sofia Kaitazzi-Witlock, Mary Kucelini, Argyris Kyridis and Tao Papaioannou.
  • Teachers, Educators, Media and Education Researchers & Practitioners: Sofia Aslanidou, Leda Tsene, Nikolaos Graikos, Stavros Grosdos, Irini Andriopoulou, Antigoni Themistocleous, Sofia Nikolaidou, Konstantinos Pollios, Virginia Simopoulou and Katerina Chrysanthopoulou.
  • Researchers from the Advanced Media Institute: Antonis Zardinas and Vasilis Petras and the co-editors of the volume Sofia Papadimitriou and Lina P. Valsamidou.