The following article was taken from our Second Newsletter (pdf, 2.62 MB)
Report by Prof. Dr. Carola Richter, Freie Universität Berlin
Since 2014, the Division of International Communication at Freie Universität Berlin under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Carola Richter has offered FU students the chance to participate in the Media and Digital Literacy Academy in Beirut (MDLAB) at the Lebanese American University (LAU) Beirut founded by FU cooperation partner Prof. Dr. Jad Melik. In 2018, five FU students, accompanied by FU’s Dr. Anna Antonakis attended MDLAB among 70 other participants from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. The participation was funded by the DAAD.
Media Literacy in the current context
The term “media literacy” describes the awareness about media content as a social construct. It enforces the critical analysis of media messages as well as the ability to utilize digital media to articulate ones’ opinions and beliefs. Since its beginning in 2013, the two-week academy program aimed to develop media and digital literacy education in the MENA region. Media literacy is also strongly needed in the Western world. Especially nowadays the boundaries between fake and real news, facts and rumors become blurred. The vital competences to deconstruct media work and content need to be built not just in Lebanon but also in Germany.
During the first week, participants were exposed to a broad spectrum of lectures, such as the political economy of news, privacy and surveillance in social media and women as war correspondents. Lectures were held by international scholars such as Dr. Sohail Dahdal, Dr.Gretchen King among many others. Dr. Anna Antonakis contributed with her lecture „From #taharrush to #me_too: Feminist Media Mobilization“. Prof. Dr. Jad Melki gave insights into propaganda strategies of modern terrorist groups. Simultaneously, technical staff introduced media production programs and techniques of data visualization and video editing.
Week two: Project phase
During the second week, it was the participants’ turn to get active and implement what they have learnt. While scholars created media literacy curricula to be taught in their home universities, students worked on media projects to start-off a social media campaign. Topics included Autism awareness, toxic masculinity and the danger of using mobile phones on the move. Film screenings and podium discussions rounded off the program. The students as well as researchers immensely benefitted from the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives of their fellow participants.