The summer school “Media and Information Literacy” took place on September 26-30, with the participation of 30 students from ten different universities in the country. In these five days the students were able to obtain some key abilities of media and information literacy and test their knowledge through special projects/presentations they prepared at the end of the course. Key topics and fields addressed during the course included information reliability, distinguishing fake news and disinformation, ethical use of social networks, hate speech and ethical communication, fact-checking, media ownership and ethics in the media, etc.
On the first day of the summer school the students discussed with lecturer Lutfi Dervishi and facilitator Irena Myzeqari some of the basic questions and topics related to media and information literacy, in a session designed to give the students a brief but comprehensive overview on MIL-related issues, as well as a glimpse on the course program. The program followed with an in-depth session on information disorders. Erlis Çela focused on the distinction between disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation. The training went on with a more practical, hands-on approach on how to avoid disinformation and other information disorders. Emirjon Senja explained to students different methods used by online media to identify and target their audiences, focusing on the main characteristics of the digital media landscape, such as algorithms and behavioral targeting of the audience.
The first lecturer of the third day of the summer school was Blerjana Bino, who focused on the phenomenon of hate speech and stereotypes in the media and in social networks. The training proceeded with the importance of information and fact verification in the media, but also the need for a more responsible dissemination of the information from different actors. Klodiana Kapo, from Faktoje.al, presented to the participants the methodology used by this organization to verify information and the promises made by public officials. The fourth day of the summer school focused on media ownership, editorial policies, and the way they affect media ethics and integrity. Lutfi Dervishi provided an overview of the way the media business model has shifted, explaining the way that business affects or interferes with news quality and objectivity. Notions such as media plurality, definition of public interest, objectivity, as well as the division of advertisement from editorial content were only some of the key concepts discussed with students. The training proceeded with Lorin Kadiu, who focused on social networks and their influence on our own perception of the reality, as well as in distribution of information. He explained in detail the way algorithms work and how they determine the information received, becoming in this way an invisible intermediary. Particular attention was paid to the business model of social networks, their influence through common ownership of several platforms, as well as to aspects related to privacy and online safety that each user should be aware of. Through practical exercises with students, the lecturer used transparency instruments available for social networks, and also provided practical tips on how to use algorithms to our advantage.
On the last day of the summer school, after four days of intensive training and team work, the students presented their own work or views on media and information literacy, according to the topics chosen by them. The topics included the influence of social networks and cyber bullying on our mental health, misrepresentation of professions in the media, the far distance between reality and virtual representation of beauty, the problematic reporting of media in special events and intrusion into private life of citizens. Other topics included a focus on sensational headlines of Ukraine war in the media to depict the way media can also wage war, while another topic was a hands-on testing of knowledge and skills of media and information literacy.
The training course was organized in the framework of the project “Developing media and information literacy in Albanian universities,” implemented with the financial support of the Public Affairs Office of the US Embassy in Tirana.