The role of journalists in the face of political and economic pressures

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Post written by Laura López Romero and translated by Daniela Jaramillo-Dent

In a context of political and economic turmoil, the gap between the work of journalists and the interests of large corporations is a heated ethical conflict. This is the basis of this article published in Comunicar 58, under the title “Conflicts in the professional roles of journalists in Spain: Ideals and practice”, written by professors Sergio Roses, from the University of Malaga, and María Luisa Humanes, from the University Rey Juan Carlos, in Madrid.

The methodology for this research is based on the results of a survey conducted between 2015 and 2016 with 122 journalists from four Spanish newspapers, in order to examine the extent to which these professionals perceive a gap between ideals and their implementation, and the most “conflictive” roles in the context of a polarized media system.

According to the researchers, “this study is the first to systematically and empirically assess the conflict of journalistic roles in press communicators in Spain, quantifying the magnitude of the perceived gap between ideals and journalistic practice.”

Some of the main conclusions reached by the study are that the confrontations were always resolved to the detriment of journalists’ ideals, which reflect the greatest gaps in the watchdog role -reducing control to power-, in the disseminating role -minimizing impartiality-, in the civic role -discouraging its role as a social catalyst- and in the role of services, reducing its capacity to advise in everyday matters.

The largest gap is perceived by journalists in the surveillance role of economic and political powers. “Professionals claim that they implemented less than the watchdog role would like. Similarly, they claim that they were forced to write information favorable to the image of political and economic leaders – a role that favors the status quo – more often than their ideals would dictate. Meanwhile, the infotainment role, has been promoted encouraging entertainment.

Roses, S.  & Humanes-Humanes, M.L. (2019). Conflicts in the professional roles of journalists in Spain: Ideals and practice. [Conflictos en los roles profesionales de los periodistas en España: Ideales y práctica]. Comunicar, 58, 65-74. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3916/C58-2019-06 

Photo by Bank Phrom on Unsplash

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Motivation Through Twitter

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Posted on July 29, 2019 by @Ana_Almansa Translated by Daniela Jaramillo-Dent

Rereading in issue 58 of Revista Comunicar, I discovered an article that, as an educator, interested me greatly, because it confirmed a lot of my perceptions. I am referring to the article “Exploring the influence of the teacher: Social participation on Twitter and academic perception.”

After extensive research, UNED professor and researcher Sonia Santoveña and Professor Cesar Bernal from University Rey Juan Carlos have found that Twitter is an extraordinary tool to stimulate motivation. They conclude that “students have placed a high value on Twitter as a means of communicating and interacting, contradicting other research that has highlighted the scarce conversations recorded on the Net (Arrabal, & de Aguilera, 2016) and the tendency to develop monologues rather than dialogues (Santoveña-Casal, 2017). The social network can be considered an environment that facilitates the adoption of new educational models based on connected learning and social participation, aspects highlighted by Jenkins (2012) and Gee (2004) as fundamental in the networked society.”

They also found that the role of the teacher, in the eyes of the student, is not influential in the perception of affiliation, belonging, but that the relationship between students is determinant. Therefore, the researchers consider that “it is likely that adopting a more passive role, leaving free space for interaction between students is a more appropriate methodology for learning in social networks.

As noted, this text is very useful for those of us who are dedicated to teaching, since it gives us many clues as to what we can and should not do when we prepare our classes.

How to cite the article: 

Santoveña-Casal, S. y Bernal-Bravo, C. (2019). Exploring the influence of the teacher: Social participation on Twitter and academic perception. [Explorando la influencia del docente: Participación social en Twitter y percepción académica]. Comunicar, 58, 75-84. DOI https://doi.org/10.3916/C58-2019-07

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

 

Bolivia: elections, fake news and citizen responsibility

Written by Claudia Rodriguez-Hidalgo Translated by Daniela Jaramillo-Dent

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In October 2019, Bolivia will elect a president, vice-president, congress representatives and senators. The media, academia and government agencies foresee the greatest amount of electoral information to circulate through Smartphones, taking into account the number of mobile users in the country, according to the State of Internet Situation in Bolivia report, March 2019.

According to the report, in the last 5 years, the level of connectivity in the country doubled, a figure also included in the Digital Report of 2019 about Bolivia, where it is estimated that more than 94% of the population connects to the Internet via Smartphones.

Within this framework, one of the major concerns regarding the upcoming electoral process arises: how information circulates through these devices, and the effects of the manipulated or manufactured information on Bolivian voting decisions.

Videos, memes, audios, photographs, gifs, etc., circulate easily through messaging applications such as Whatsapp and Messenger, and their origin is almost impossible to determine, as warned by two organizations recently created in Bolivia for the verification of information: Verifica Bolivia and Chequea Bolivia, both led by journalists and academics with the mission of denying false information circulating on the Internet. The creation of these organizations responds to a need to alleviate the effects of false information and avoid its effects on election results, as evidenced in Brazil, where Jail Bolsonaro’s campaign used as one of its main fake news resources through Whatsapp groups supporting the candidate. The same has happened before in Brexit in the UK, and the US elections, where the final results are attributed to the fake news effect.

The report dated March 2018 published by the Masachussets Institute of Technology (MIT), states that fake news is 70% more likely to be disseminated and generate more impact than verified news, which they attribute to two key questions: the emotional appeal of its contents, and the surprise and impact it generates. In this sense, the creation of this type of content, far from being a mere phenomenon of the information society, has become, in certain contexts, a profitable business that captures the attention of users and exchanges it for clicks and advertising income, making the ways of identifying them complex, but not impossible.

Even so, in an electoral context, and generally speaking, when faced with the use of information, the first duty of user responsibility is to doubt, and then verify the information before sharing it.

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Why do we learn…or not?

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Written by Ana Almansa   Translated by Daniela Jaramillo-Dent

“This article argues that a better understanding of human beings is necessary in order to implement what is defined here as design for deep learning”. With this phrase I am drawn to the article “Designing for deep learning in the context of digital and social media”, published in Comunicar 58.

James-Paul Gee, Professor at Arizona State University (United States), and Moisés Esteban-Guitart, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Girona (Spain), are the authors of this article. It theorizes about the human being as the main axis in the learning and interpersonal processes: “people become travel companions in a journey through life with others”.
It is, without a doubt, an article that invites reflection on people and how we act. The article appeals from beginning to end. And the ending in particular does not leave one indifferent: “Human beings are primates. School and inequality in society have killed the psychobiological passion for learning, for epistemological sensitivity (Bruner, 2012) and for solving problems in many people. We are faced with a large number of problems that are difficult to solve. Perhaps the problem with “design for deep learning” is not really that human beings don’t like effort, but that they need to discover what they really are: beings who grow up struggling and learning when they perceive that there are rays of light, recognition and hope”.

I invite you to read the full text here.

 

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Young people’s learning with digital media beyond school: From the informal to the formal

Author:  Ana Sedeño   Translator:  Daniela Jaramillo-Dent

priscilla-du-preez-XkKCui44iM0-unsplashThe paper “Young people learning from digital media outside of school: The informal meets the formal” published in issue 58 of Comunicar Journal, presents the research results of professors Sara Pereira, Joana Fillol and Pedro Morur from the University of Miño in Braga (Portugal). It deals with informal learning and its relationship to the school. This article was based on data from workshops, interviews and questionnaires collected from 78 young people aged 12-16 in schools located in northern Portugal.

The study undertakes a new bibliographical review of the reflections and studies in which the media have proven to significantly contribute complementary content to adolescents’ learning, as part of the Transmedia Literacy project, a European project that attempted to systematize different perspectives on this phenomenon. The study analyzes the informal learning strategies of adolescents, presented as an explanatory diagram divided by Trial/Error, Information Search and Imitation/inspiration.

It seems that students at these ages are aware of this cultural and educational gap and do not expect to learn about media in school: “They are two different worlds,” they say.

Some solutions provided by researchers include changes in educational policies and the production of resources to help teachers train in media topics and use them on a daily basis in the classroom, while at the same time develop transmedia literacy skills. You can read the full article here.

Facebook to build an informed community

In a lately meeting, Facebook announced to media practitioners that they would do their part to elevate media literacy by means of supplying tools and training to journalists.

At first glance, Facebook’s move is shocking, or at least confusing as we all know that Facebook is the platform where all sorts of information got spread/viral. To ensure freedom of expression and to do its business well, Facebook has no reason to select/censor/filter contents from users of various backgrounds. After all, Facebook is no more than a commercial organization based on “contents”. In my view, it is debatable that how Facebook shall position itself on this issue. However, for better or not, a healthier and fairer media eco-system is beneficial to the whole society, as long as Facebook provides media literacy tools rather than be the “tool” itself.

During the Facebook meeting, ways of engaging in media literacy are introduced, though a lot more moves are still at their preliminary phase. Third party experts are of great importance to this emerging literacy project. Experts in various fields are invited to join force to conduct situation analysis. In Hong Kong, Facebook partners with the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre.

The media literacy project by Facebook leaves a few concerns, in another word, new challenges: shall we re-define news/journalism again? When Facebook, the largest social media in the world claims to do “journalism” as well, what shall we expect from Facebook-style journalism and journalistic journalism? In addition, as the “third party” mechanism acclaimed by Facebook represents the “independence” and “fairness” which are complied with traditional journalism spirit, does it mean that this “third party” equals to “objectivity”?

When the boundary between online and offline world blurs more and more, it is an urge for us, as researcher, educator and citizen, to re-think “news”.

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What is the Role of Media in Creating Young Japanese Hermits?

Let me introduce you to a mini documentary about young Japanese hermits called hikikomori. Hikikomori live in seclusion stretching months, even years, without a proper occupation. Movies and video games comprise their daily life, and they do not have a social life outside of the Internet. How do they become like this? How can Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory help us to understand the inner world of hikikomori?

Hikikomori are people who have rejected the outside world or external reality. What Freud teaches us to think about “reality” is not really about whether something is subjective or objective, rather, he thinks reality as an “obstacle”. In his psychoanalytic theory, humans primarily seek pleasure and organize their activities around this goal. But in many moments in life pleasure isn’t readily available, so the individual must work his or her way around and has to directly manipulate the external environment in order to secure the source of pleasure. Following this thinking, we are all the time living in our own fantasies until a problem arises, that’s our point of contact with the world, which is reality.

Narcissism is another keyword in his theory. Let’s take narcissism as “love for oneself”, and define love as “an individual’s relationship with a source of pleasure”, that means the narcissist takes oneself as the source of pleasure. It is well-known that Freud is all about sexual pleasure, and I think he’s right about auto-eroticism of the human body. Auto-eroticism means we can generate sexual pleasure just by fiddling with our own bodies (e.g. masturbation or day-dreaming). And since our bodies are immediately available to ourselves, we don’t have to deal with the external environment at all to experience pleasure. This is why narcissism is dangerous because of the self-sufficiency of the body which grants “labour-free” pleasure to ourselves, causing us to lose incentive to come in contact with the outside world and other people.

I think there is a weighty element of narcissism in hikikomori. And the contemporary media environment supports this personality trait. When movies, video games, and convenient store foods can satisfy their need for pleasure, why take pains to deal with reality? Reality is painful, because work demands labour, just as walking strains our muscles. The documentary addresses this as well, attributing the cause of hikikomori to parental negligence or violence which is broadly tied to high society expectations and intense competition. Parents, who out of ignorance or pressure abuse their children to “succeed”, puts too much of a dose of reality to their children early on, and the intense amount of pain causes the children to avoid dealing with reality later on and become hikikomori. They prefer to live in a sheltered existence where all is pleasure and no pain, often out of fear.

Switching gears to McLuhan, if media technology is extension of the human body, then should we think movies and video games as auto-erotic, narcissism-inducing machines that ultimately have the effect of isolating individuals from the outside world?

Call for abstract: Media Education Summit 2018, Hong Kong

Date: November 1-2, 2018
Venue: Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), Hong Kong
Conference Website: https://cemp.ac.uk/summit/2018/

About the Conference:
Each year the Media Education Summit (MES) is held in a different country. It
brings together a global network of media educators and media literacy
practitioners to share research, pedagogy and innovation in all aspects of media
literacy education and media technology education. In 2018, the MES will be held
in Hong Kong. The School of Communication at HKBU will co-organize the
MES with the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP) of Bournemouth
University, UK.
This international conference will be one of the key events to mark the 50 th
Anniversary of the School of Communication at HKBU.
MES is convened annually by the CEMP and now is a global event, hosted in
Prague in 2014, Boston in 2015, Rome in 2016 and Segovia in 2017. In 2018,
MES will be held in Asia for the first time.
Media and information literacy (MIL) and media technology education have
become essential life skills in the emerging knowledge society. Educators around
the world are developing innovative media education programs for the youth.
Moreover, the field of media literacy has become a distinct academic field of
study. This conference will provide an opportunity for media literacy and media
education researchers and practitioners to exchange views across disciplines and
cultures on the latest developments in the field.

Abstract submission: https://cemp.ac.uk/summit/2018/

Deadline of submission: April 30, 2018

Participatory media and change of teaching method

In the latest issue of Comunicar, a theme that has received intensive discussion in the recent decade leads a series of research articles: Shared science and knowledge, Open access, technology and education.

Among the serial articles, one of them draws my special attention: Soler-Adillon, J., Pavlovic, D. & Freixa, P. (2018). Wikipedia in higher education: Changes in perceived value through content contribution. Comunicar, 54, 39-48. Given to the prevalence of wikipedia in our daily internet use as well as in academia practice, the authors conducted experiments that compared how students perceive the reliability and usefulness, and of likeliness of finding false information on Wikipedia. A significant change of perception on the above aspects was found before and after students got a chance to edit contents on wikipedia. Their appreciation of the task of writing Wikipedia articles, in terms of it being interesting and challenge also increased.

This article stimulates my further contemplation on one of the latest fashion in teaching method: flipped classroom. Recently, I attended a workshop organized by universities in Hong Kong. In the workshop, concepts and practical experience regarding this teaching method was introduced. Basically, the rationale behind is that, students in today’s digital age have mastered various means of knowledge acquisition, especially with the assistance of the internet. Therefore, the role of teacher shall be transformed from instructor to coach/tutor. And the function of classroom shall be more for discussion than for one-way lecturing. Participatory platforms such as MOOC, Moodle and to name a few should play a leading role in the process of education because students living in the digital age shall be more interested in and inclined to interactive two-way communication. Wikipedia, in this regard, is a vivid example and exemplar of participatory media. Shall it be a primary means in university teaching? Or, when students are told to search information on their own, how to guarantee the quality of knowledge they have “acquired”?

Besides the primary and ultimate issue of “how to stimulate students’ self-learning motivation”, media and information is of particular importance in this regard. In the previous blog entry, Prof. Alice Lee addressed: media and Information Literacy (MIL) are the combined capabilities of Media Literacy, Information Literacy and ICT. It means to search, evaluate, use and create media messages and information efficiently from any platform (Internet, media, library, museum, database, etc.).

Teaching is never a problem of teaching method, in my view. In the old days, as long as students are highly self-motivated, traditional teaching methods such as one-way lecturing or multi-way communication in seminar, deliver knowledge and stimulate new thoughts effectively. Great thinkers learn in libraries, classrooms, reading clubs and on their owns, instead of on MOOC or Moodle. Vice versa, without strong and critical media and information literacy and embracing little self-motivation, students, even given a large variety of learning options, will fail to receive high-quality education.

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Media and Information Literacy: Critical Minds for Critical Times

     The Internet and digital technologies have rapidly developed in recent years. The cutting-edge communications technologies have brought a lot of convenience to human societies, but in the past few years they have fueled misinformation, fake news, political propaganda, hate speech and commercial fraudulent manipulation. Social networking sites have trapped Netizens in the echo chamber, causing polarization in public opinion and creating social rips. The world has rapidly marched into the so-called “post-truth era.” If these problems are not solved, the situation may deteriorate further as we step into the “all Internet world.”

     It is no wonder that UNESCO raised the emergency slogan “Critical Minds for Critical Times,” urging the media to play a role of building a peaceful, just and inclusive society and holding the “Media and Information Literacy and Cross-Strait Initiative (MILID) on the theme “Media and Information Literacy in Critical Times: Re-Imagining Ways of Learning and Information Environments” (UNESCO, 2017). Global media educators need to explore ways to use different approaches to media and information literacy education (MIL Education) in a variety of settings. About 200 media literacy and information literacy experts, coming from 40 countries, gathered in Jamaica by the end of 2017 to exchange views on this important issue.

At present, all walks of life have tried their best to prevent the false news from spreading. In some countries, the government considered legislation and criminalized the delivery of false news. However, some scholars worry that doing so would undermine freedom of speech. The other is to call for media and social networking sites to step up self-regulation, with Facebook and Google promising to take counter-measures on counterfeit news, but seeming no success and their sincerity being questioned. Some news agencies set up a verification team to verify the news, but need to use a lot of human resources. It is then believed that the more effective way to fight against fake news is to educate the audiences. MIL education should be able to cultivate media-and-information-literate citizens and contribute to the battle against misinformation and fake news.

Media and Information Literacy (MIL) are the combined capabilities of Media Literacy, Information Literacy and ICT. It means to search, evaluate, use and create media messages and information efficiently from any platform (Internet, media, library, museum, database, etc.).

In the post-truth era, MIL educators encourages young people to be responsible global citizens. New technologies have improved human livelihood and built smart cities. But there are also many negative effects that threaten the well-being of humankind and bring modern society to a “critical time.” How could we free the “all Internet world” from chaos in information in the future? It is believed that MIL advocates need to continue their efforts globally.

Composed by

Prof. Alice Lee, Professor and Department Head

Department of Journalism, Hong Kong Baptist University

Jamaica conference