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Kozakou: Democracy requires well-informed, media literate citizens

Fake news pose a challenge for democratic societies worldwide and media literacy, which includes having the skills to distinguish between reliable information and personal opinions, prejudices or propaganda, is the most powerful tool to battle this phenomenon.

Skopje, 16 August 2019 (MIA) – Fake news pose a challenge for democratic societies worldwide and media literacy, which includes having the skills to distinguish between reliable information and personal opinions, prejudices or propaganda, is the most powerful tool to battle this phenomenon.

Maria Kozakou, a journalist at the Greek public radio station ERT and editor in chief at the Media Literacy Institute (MLI), talked to MIA about her country’s experience in handling fake news. According to her, media literacy is “media education” both for journalists and for citizens and it is the most powerful tool to battle disinformation and fake news.

She added that the MLI is a non-profit organization founded in 2017 under Greek legislation. Its aim is to promote and disseminate the concept of Media and Information Literacy in Greece, Europe and throughout the world.

“Media and Information Literacy aims at the critical perception, use and creation of knowledge and information on any traditional or modern communication medium, and requires the acquisition of cognitive, functional, technical and communication skills, as well as the capabilities of using modern means of communication.

“The MLI supports the idea that democracy requires well-informed citizens and that Media and Information Literacy is among the most important ways to combat bias and hate speech online, to promote the fundamental right of citizens to be self-aware when they interact with the media, to learn how to cross check resources, to develop skills of inquiry when investigating the resources, creators and purposes of any content, so that they can distinguish reliable information from “fake news”, personal opinions, prejudices or propaganda,” Kozakou said.

 

The MLI consists of professional journalists and researchers in the field of communication. Their aim is to participate in the political, social and cultural advance of their country and the neighboring states, by utilizing the tools of their profession.

“We consider that information, communication and especially mass media are critical drivers that support the basic principles of democratic procedures and we advocate the right of universal access to reliable information,” Kozakou added.

The Thessaloniki workshop she participated in, she added, proves beyond any doubt that North Macedonia and Greece urgently need a long term, multi-leveled collaboration and cooperation in order to battle the numerous incidents of fake news and fake history that stigmatize the cross border media coverage in both countries.

“Journalists can enhance the trust between the two nations, by humanizing media coverage and debunking disinformation on bilateral issues,” Kozakou said.

Maria Kozakou took part in the workshop held in Thessaloniki at the end of June that was organized by the U.S. embassies in North Macedonia and Greece, the United States Department of State Global Engagement Center, the United States Agency for Global Media and the Center for European Perspective.

35 journalists from North Macedonia and Greece participated in the two-day workshop that focused on the challenges of disinformation and the ways to combat them through mutual cooperation.

Violeta Gerov

Tr. by Monika Mihajlovska

 

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