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New media can leverage excellence in journalism education

News - Thu, 08/12/2016 - 14:48

This was UNESCO’s key message during the Asian Forum for Deans of Journalism and Communication held from 30 to 1 December in Shanghai, China.

Organised by Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) with support from the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China, the forum brought together over 100 Asian professors of journalism and communication, in addition to scores of Chinese participants.

In his keynote address, Fackson Banda, representing UNESCO as a programme specialist responsible for journalism education, observed that new media could facilitate the implementation of each of the three dimensions of pedagogical excellence, adding that it was for this reason that project support by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) included a focus on how new media could be enlisted in effective delivery of journalism courses.

He stressed: “For this reason, the use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in our IPDC projects has become an important feature of such technological innovation, encouraging unlimited participation and open access via the web.”

Speaking earlier, Feng Qinghua, Vice-President of Shanghai International Studies University, highlighted the importance of Asian and other alternative approaches towards journalism education, emphasising that the rapid uptake of new media in Asia presented a need for new pedagogies.

UNESCO was invited to the forum as a champion of the Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education which, Banda explained in his keynote address, was a vehicle for expressing UNESCO’s vision of quality journalism education as an important measure of the overall quality of citizenship and society at large.

The forum was aimed at engaging leading Asian scholars in constructive dialogue to respond to the opportunities and challenges created by the new media and to bring out fresh insights into the function and development of Asian journalism and communication and the advancement of the Asian Community in the new media environment.

UNESCO triggered debates on social media and youth radicalization in the digital age at 11th IGF in Mexico

News - Thu, 08/12/2016 - 11:48

The workshop, attended by above 80 participants, was moderated by Indrajit Banerjee, UNESCO Director for Knowledge Societies. He shared the outcome of UNESCO's Conference “Internet and the Radicalization of Youth: Preventing, Acting and Living Together”, held in Quebec City, Canada, from 30 October to 1 November 2016.

The Director said the “Call of Quebec” outcome document urged stakeholders to question radicalization narratives online, and to respond through counter-narratives and education that emphasizes critical thinking, tolerance and respect for human rights.

Guy Berger, UNESCO Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, pointed out the complexity of the issue of media and radicalization and presented initial findings from UNESCO's ongoing research on social media and radicalization.

The research has taken an evidence-based approach through an extensive review of diverse studies across multiple languages and regions.

It finds there is still little theorization of those complex issues of extremism, terrorism and radicalization. There is also no scientific evidence of clear causal connections between what happens on social media and the radicalization process, and the role of Internet is more of a facilitator rather than a driver of the radicalization process.

The research calls for a global dialogue based on a multi-stakeholder approach and a holistic solution which goes beyond protective responses like blocking and filtering of content, and focus on empowering young people both online and offline.

In the next six months, the research will be finalized and published.

Sofia Rasgado, from the Council of Europe, shared the good practice of a Portuguese campaign to decrease hate speech, cyber bullying and cyber hate, based on human rights education, youth participation and media literacy. Google’s William Hudson argued that content take-down and censorship are insufficient to combat radicalization, and he presented Google's ongoing counter-speech efforts to build a platform for true solidarity and understanding.

Barbora Bukovska, from Article 19, expressed her concern that the lack of definition of the concept of radicalization could lead to violations of human rights. She welcomed UNESCO’s promotion of positive policy measures, including various counter-speech methods, arguing that these are a more effective tool to fight the underlying social causes leading to radicalization.

From Ranking Digital Rights, Rebecca MacKinnon alerted that civil society is often under dual attack by governments and extremist groups, and pleaded that the protection of human rights online and offline and the defense of civil society and independent journalists are crucial to solve the problem of radicalization in the long run.

Participants raised a number of questions related to criminalization of hate speech, freedom of religious expression, balancing rights, personalized content, etc.

A common theme was that all stakeholders need to critically assess the problem of youth radicalization and join their efforts to invest in holistic and effective solutions that take consideration of human rights implications and gender issues, and which take counter-measures and youth empowerment actions.

Internet governance should include journalists’ safety issues

News - Wed, 07/12/2016 - 18:26
A panel organized by UNESCO during IGF2016, in Guadalajara, Mexico, with the presence of two Freedom of Expression Special Rapporteurs, Mexican Government, journalists and civil society representatives has underlined the centrality of protecting journalists from both digital and physical threats.

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