A media guide, produced by one of EAEA's Finnish member organisations, The Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation, helps in the building of Palestinian civil society. The guide is a free online resource for all. Its core message: critical media literacy is a crucial civic skill of the social media age.
The project "Civic Skills via Media Education in Palestine" supports the building of Palestinian civil society through media education. Picture: Aura Vuorenrinne
"When you understand how media functions – and how to use its channels yourself – you are in a better position to evaluate its content and trustworthiness. A critical reading is crucial, regardless of the source," says Karoliina Knuuti, producer of the Media Guide.
For much of early 2016, she has been headquartered in Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank. Knuuti coordinates a project, run by The Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation – KVS and funded by the Finnish Foreign Ministry. The ultimate outcome of the project is increasing media literacy include media literacy among Palestinian adults.
The Media Guide, produced in the project, is a central tool for the media education activities of the project. The Guide was published online in the end of April in Arabic and English.
According to Karoliina Knuuti, critical media literacy is a basic civic skill. Photo: Anna Tervahartiala
"Media constantly tries to influence us but critical readers are unlikely to be carried along into whichever direction," Knuuti says.
This is especially important for Palestinians who have for over six decades lived under the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Continuous media warfare is waged alongside the conflict, with both parties defamating each other.
Equally, a European, following the crisis through media, needs his or her dose of media criticism.
"The information machinery of Israel is very professional and efficient. Therefore Western media mainly relies on information produced by only one party of the conflict, Israel," Knuuti explains.
Digital media expert Markus Viljasalo, a volunteer trainer, teaching at a workshop arranged at Birzeit University in Palestine. Photo: Karoliina Knuuti
KVS partners with the Media Development Center of Birzeit University, near Ramallah, in the project. The staff of the Centre participated in producing the content of the Media Guide, along with Karoliina Knuuti and a group of Finnish masters' degree students of journalism.
The online guide is available to be used freely by anyone interested in media basics, marketing and media ethics. It contains a variety of tools for media analysis and evaluation of information.
"For example, we explain why a media outlet should always rely on a clear ethical code. In Finland adherence to a national code for journalists bears fruit in the form of ranking first in the World Press Freedom Index," Knuuti illustrates.
The participants of media literacy workshops are mainly non-governmental organisation practitioners, journalists and municipality workers. Photo: Ali Batha
The main target group for the Media Guide are Palestinians. Pirkko Ruuskanen-Parrukoski, CEO of the KVS and EAEA's Acting Board Member, hopes that the guide will also be used widely outside Palestine.
"In this age of social media every citizen is both a media consumer and content producer. Media education for adults must not be overlooked," Ruuskanen-Parrukoski says.
The Media Guide