In connection with the implementation of the CLASS project, we share part of an interview of Dnevnik newspaper with Prof. Nelly Ognyanova.
What is the situation in Bulgaria in terms of media literacy. How can media literacy improve media pluralism?
- Media literacy is not a media topic, media literacy determines the level of understanding of what is happening to us - and therefore the choice of individual behavior. Whether you get vaccinated, who you vote for and whether you are afraid of 5G directly depends on media literacy: what you read, which TV you watch, who you choose to trust. Today, the wars we wage are information wars - and in them the victims are also real. The lack of media literacy in politics is fatal. If the election winners had heard "the media is the message", they would not have tried to convince us that it did not matter who spoke, how and where, the important thing was what the messages were. Someone who has heard of Marshall McLuhan could lead them out of this delusion. Media literacy - choosing your sources, knowing your digital rights, being able to express yourself in a digital environment - determines the quality of life and the quality of democracy.
The state administration, the education system, the media, civil society organizations, the family are responsible for media literacy. In Bulgaria, an amendment to the Radio and Television Act of 2020 provided for the development of a national policy for media literacy. The Media Literacy Coalition works at the non-governmental level.
One of the report's findings is that media owners systematically influence the editorial content of news sites. Is it clear how and how it can be counteracted?
- This is part of the more general problem of editorial independence. Influence goes through the choice of topics, the relevance of the topics on the public agenda, the choice of sources, experts and interlocutors, as well as through the interpretation of events and the comments made.
Quality journalism adheres to journalistic standards on each of these issues, and coverage is balanced and fact-based. Unfortunately, the field of quality journalism is very narrow, there is often no distinction between fact and commentary, there is also the spread of misinformation and frankly commissioned journalism.
Even public service media do not always adequately cover the public agenda and are not without some common flaws.
The aim is to expand the area of quality journalism. Media literacy is a key factor in creating public intolerance of sources of misinformation and hybrid threats. Strengthening self-regulation is also of some importance for compliance with journalistic standards. Promoting quality journalism with a public resource is an opportunity that also deserves attention.
The full text of the interview with Prof. Ognyanova can be found here: