EDIA21 in cooperation with the University of Agribusiness and Rural Development in Russe and the Regional TV Center in the city organized a seminar on “Digitization and New Media Literacy: the Role of Public Media”

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Digitization and Media Literacy: Are Journalists and Users Prepared for Communication in the Digital Age?

The project and some topics concerning the role of the new media channels, mainly public ones in the new media landscape, were presented to the Bulgarian audience in the city of Russe. MEDIA21 in cooperation with the University of Agribusiness and Rural Development in Russe and the Regional TV Center in the city organized a seminar on “Digitization and New Media Literacy: the Role of Public Media” which took place on 22 March, 2013. The main participants were members and adherents of the foundation, representatives of the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications and of St. Climent Ohridsky Sofia University. Moreover, included in the panels were presentations by our Romanian guests: Dr. Alexandru Matei from Spiru Haret University, Faculty of Literature and the Excellence Center in the Study of the Image in Bucharest and Ass. Prof. Alexandra Craciun from the University of Bucharest. The event was attended by journalists, students and lecturers who are interested in the transition and mastering of the new digital technology as means of interactivity, enhanced communication and the way of presenting the information.

The meeting started with opening addresses by Mr. Vesselin Mitev, Administrative Director and Assistant Rector to the University of Agribusiness and Rural Development in Russe and Mrs. Bissera Zankova, Media Expert and President of MEDIA21 Foundation. The introductory presentation about the Bulgarian projection of the EC “EUROPE 2020” Strategy headlined “The Policy of Bulgaria on the Building of Information Society: Digital Bulgaria 2015” Programme – Aims and Tasks” was delivered by Dipl. Eng. Anelia Dimova, chief expert at the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications.
The three reports in the first session focused on the problems of the net and its influence over man and society. Mr. Dimiter Sotirov considered the features that characterize it as a factor in public image making, i.e. how to apply PR strategies through the opportunities found in the Internet. Attractive approach with lots of examples and illustrations taken from the Romanian practice determined the report of Ass. Prof. Alexandra Craciun who took notice of another aspect of the social networks within the digital environment: the creation of brands to make countries recognizable. Investigative journalism, its online development and the proceeding opportunities for information gathering and analyzing as well as the respective risks were in the core of the research presented by Svetlozar Kirilov, Assistant Professor at St. Climent Ohridsky University of Sofia, Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication.
The second session was dedicated to the public television issues, including its strengthening, in the face of the new challenges on the media market, resulting from the dynamic technological development. Mrs. Anna Arnaudova outlined the specifics of television interactivity and how public operators should come nearest to the audience and involve it into the shows by an engaging communication. She drew the attention of the auditorium to the fact that interactivity might be a tool for the achievement of greater transparency with respect to the government activity and might facilitate communication between the authorities and the citizens. In virtue of 2012 Declaration and Recommendation of the Council of Europe on public media management Dr. Bissera Zankova analyzed the principles and approaches to managerial reforms of public media in the digital era parallel to the new requirements for media workers.

Mr. Alexandru Matei examined the history of the Romanian Television and showed authentic photos and videos illustrating the restless propaganda and its influence on the young people in Ceausescu’s time. Much of the material that proved to be manipulative and the pressure upon large groups of society, in Matei’s opinion, might refer to the present too.

The third session focused on the web being a source of information and the new approaches to gathering, managing and offering of data in the IT society. Dr. Radoslav Spassov from the Historical Faculty of the Sofia University spoke of the Internet as a basis for a new information methodology and of the new techniques for getting, analyzing, managing and preserving of data in the online media. The work of Mrs. Silvia Kadreva on PREZI – the new system of organizing and offering knowledge on the web – described the unique design and the rich innovative characteristics of the software which registered 18 million users of the service in 2009. PREZI is a revolutionary form for presentations that takes advantage of modern technology and displays information in an impressive 3D form.

The meeting organized by MEDIA21 Foundation was a remarkable event to lay the groundwork of a promising cooperation of experts from various spheres, media workers and researchers. The presenting of the project in public with the attendance of international experts widens the basis for research, exchange of practices and approaches which will further develop media literacy in the multidimensional digital environment.

A brief announcement of the meeting can be found at the site of the University of Agribusiness and Rural Development in Russe at http://www.uard-ruse.bg/. For experts and persons interested in the subject all presentations in their original format are accessible in English and in Bulgarian at the site of Black and White Magazine, Bulgaria, partner to the Union of Bulgarian Journalists at http://blackandwhitemag.bg/?p=3037

The advancement of the digital age and the growing number of new services and platforms give an incredible impetus to the possibilities of creating and disseminating content.
This conclusion refers to traditional as well as to new media which are committed to serve freedom of expression and information at a professional level in modern society but also to anybody who creates and distributes information, opinions and comments taking advantage of the free online exchange. Digital technology facilitates active communication on the net and fosters the establishment of a ground for various channels and platforms to serve diverse social causes and objectives.

However, the multifunctional media environment which we are immersed in has not just a technological aspect. We can all feel the social and cultural impact of the technological development especially in our everyday life. Hence, it is quite natural that some researchers have drawn the inference: what matters today, is not the material carriers of content but the content itself expanded into “complex systems of knowledge and social meaning”.

In order to make full use of modern technology and the opportunities offered in the Internet we need to be aware of the new situation we live in and to get the skills to gather information and to communicate within the digital environment. In the next two years MEDIA21 foundation will be working on the “New Media Literacy for Media Professionals” project together with similar organizations from Slovakia, Romania and Malta. The project’s objectives are to assist media professionals fulfill their assignments adequately to the digital environment as well as to help any person to benefit from the public service value of the web as a factor of communication, creative work and mobilization. The European Commission funds the project within the “Partnerships” sector of “Leonardo da Vinci” – Lifelong Learning Programme.
Dr. Bissera Zankova
Media 21 Foundation
April 2013