Monday 27 November 2017

Critical Media literacy Summer School in Estonia

Around 35 Estonian and Latvian teachers and youth workers got together on August 21-23 for three days to discuss, learn and share best practices of developing media literacy and critical thinking among the youth within the frame of global citizenship education.
The three days were packed with innovative ideas and methods, groupwork and also fun around how good are we as adults at analyzing all that media input that reaches us whether we want it or not.
1 Introduction to Media Literacy Education by Kadri Ugur

2 Who said it worst and how big is the damage done?
The first day started by Kadri Ugur (phD, University of Tartu) investigated the question of media education at school level in general and how biased or unbiased are we while processing media. After the lively discussion the group was divided in two and presented to three different tasks based on the European Commission campaign “No hate speech movement” and the freshly translated methodological handbook “Bookmarks – Combating hate speech online through human rights education”1. The first exercise challenged the participants into how do they confront cyberbullying at in their institutions. We concluded that not having  social media accounts does not protect you against the new forms of online bullying and in any case, it must be dealt with delicacy and persistency. The second exercise called “Wear and share” asked the question about the difference between real life behavior and online behavior. What is the information you would share online, and would you still do the same on the street? Some samples went to humoristic extremities, but helped illustrating the idea of privacy and security. The hardest exercise for the participants was about hate speech on social media – to decide who says it worst was not that easy to decide upon within groups and the difference between discrimination, prejudices, cyberbullying and hate speech was not always clear. (See more “Bookmarks”, Chapter 5). These somewhat personal workshops really helped opening our reality. The experience sharing with real life stories and problem solutions was highly valued by the participants. 
Because the discussions were deep, and we needed to keep up the positive mood the second half of the day concentrated more on mainstream media and media campaigns – which social campaigns work and why. Different European campaigns were analyzed by the groups.
The topic of the second day was migration, internally displace persons and refugees in media. The topic moved from fake news – how to spot them, how they have been constructed and how to control sources – to the research made by Marlen Kakkori (University of Tallinn) on an Estonian Facebook group called “No to refugees”. All previous topics were more thoroughly treated in the global café where questions like “How to diversify the media consumption of the youth?” and “What are the good practices for developing media literacy?” debated and later shared for the future work of participants.

3 - One sample of group work - "Intruder in wolf skin" by a radical site on the topic of social inclusion.

The latest helped to set the thoughts in order that were still a little puzzled from the previous day. Based on the fake news and depiction of refugees the participants were divided into small groups and went to discover the beautiful village and pine tree forests of Võsu. But not just randomly – the idea of the orienteering game was to find marked spots on the map where each group had to take a photo or a video according to the topic and the source. The groups got creative especially with the most radical titles putting into practice what they had previously analyzed.

The second day concluded with a lovely dinner cooked jointly by the participants of the summer school and Syrian refugee family who has been living in Estonia for over two years. The family shared their migration story and challenges integrating in the Estonian society.
On the third day our Lithuanian guest Reda Stangyte held a workshop on fake news. The participants learned what is a hoax, a clickbite or a troll. And how to check whether information we see in the social media is true or not. Afterwards, Kadri Ronk, Social media expert gave some tips and tricks how to track other’s activity on social media, how false news catch their audience so easily and how to collect data that has been stored on oneself by Google or ther big media companies. 
Despite the long days of cooperation, all participants confirmed they had broadened their areas of knowledge, gathered ideas for long time projects with their youth like campaigning and thematic days and built Estonian-Latvian partnerships for future collaboration. We all at #Mondosummersch2017 agreed upon wanting a #betternewsmedia and will contribute in achieving it with our youth groups!


Tuesday 14 November 2017

#betternewsmedia -short video journalism school for young journalists

In September 2017 twelve young journalists (14-19 years old high school students) from all around Lithuania participated in Ethical Video Journalism School which was organised by Lithuanian Journalism Center in collaboration with a multimedia agency ‘Nanook’ and an NGO ‘Mondo’. Five Sundays in a row students were learning about media literacy and ethical video journalism, also, how to produce portrait/web documentary videos from scratch, while having classes in the city centre of Vilnius.

The concept of the school was ‘learning by doing’ – while learning to create professional media production, the students also gained deeper understanding of media ethics and developed critical approach towards the news, especially the news regarding refugees.
During the short course students with the teachers’ help created three portrait videos about the refugees living in Lithuania. The first video was about Vsevolod Chernozub, who came to Lithuania three years ago and got political asylum. The second portrait video was based on the story of Julija Chemak, who came from Ukraine to Lithuania in 2014. It has been three years since she and her family were given a temporary shelter by Lithuania. The last one was about Husams Sy, a refugee from Syria, who is living in Lithuania with his wife for a couple of years.
The videos will be posted in social and online media websites until the end of this year.
According to the students, after this course they changed their approach towards refugees and the Lithuanian media. A lot of them said that right now they feel more respect for refugees and in the future would like to help them.
My approach towards journalism has changed in 180 degrees. Now I know about the different side of journalism, which I have never known before. I have never thought that it can be so cinematographic and esthetic. Before this course I had a conception that a journalist is merely a stalker, who follows celebrities and thinks that he/she is looking for a ‘truth’. I have never thought about becoming a journalist, but I have really changed my mind”, - said Nojus, one of the course students.
I truly believe that refugees cannot be discriminated in our society, since they are the same people as we. Maybe in the future we will need the same help, you never know, that is why we need to help them and take care of each other everyday”, - was uttered by another student Rytenė.

While using gained knowledge of ethical media production, these students will be able to recognise unethical cases in the news about refugees and also will know how to spread the ethical ideas as well.

Information about the course was shared in the social media. The total reach of the 9 posts was more than 44 500. The three videos prepared will be shared in the blog soon.

Thursday 9 November 2017

Discussion evening in Estonia: Media and Migration

On 25th May NGO Mondo organised a discussion evening in Tallinn on the topic of Media and Migration. The discussion took place between Mexican journalist Elva Narcia, Finnish media-expert Riikka Seppälä and the public. More than 40 people - among them journalism students and young people - took part in the discussion. Lively discussion tackled the role of media in portraying migration issues in Europe, US and elsewhere and tried to answer the questions: What could be the ethics of journalism? How does the media coverage affect the realities of migrants?

Estonian campaign activities: multi-media camp for youth

In Estonia the social media campaign was partly done in cooperation with the youth media club - Noorte Meediaklubi ( ). Together we organised a youth multi-media camp in Kiviõli. The camp involved 50 young people from grades 8-12 and was carried out 21.-23.4.2017. 

Our aim was to develop their critical thinking in media when it comes to integration, immigrants and refugees. The introductory lectures introduced the topic of media ethics. We also invited different well-known foreigners, who live in Estonia, to have a speech in the camp about how they or their country has been accepted or represented in media. 
More information about the camp:

Young people wrote different articles on the visitors which were also shared in social media: 

Friday 3 November 2017

Journalism Day 2016 in Finland

The international day of journalism was organized in Helsinki, Finland on the 14th October 2016, at Paasitorni conference and congress centre in Helsinki’s Hakaniemi district.

Vikes was in charge of organizing the international part of the programme. A wide range of topics related to world news with international guests and experts were discussed, and attendance was very positive: we reached approximately 90–95 people in our panels, and more than 1100 people who participated at least partly to some events.

The specific events were:

Stories that Need to Be Heard: Refugees in the Media

The Finnish Institute in London and the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux published a report on how European newspapers write about the so called refugee crisis - and whose crisis it actually is. When talking about migration the voices of the refugees and asylum seekers are heard less than those of the European experts, politicians and authorities. What are the stories and voices that need to be heard? And how to diversify the reporting?

Ethical Journalism Network’s board member Chris Elliott, journalist and activist Maryan Abdulkarim, Head of Society Programme Johanna Sumuvuori (Finnish Institute in London) and Head of Projects Annukka Vähäsöyrinki (Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux)  discussed these issues in a panel discussion led by Coordinator Maiju Mitrunen from the Finnish Foundation for Media and Development Vikes.

Why Don’t You Ask Us? How Refugees Are Working with the Media in Finland?

Many of the asylum seekers and refugees that have arrived to Finland have the skills and desire to continue working with the media. How is the media writing about their home countries? What would they like to contribute to the discussion in Finland? In a panel discussion, led by an awarded Finnish journalist Jeanette Björkqvist, the former and current refugees were asked to give their grade to Finnish and European media on their treatment of the so called refugee crisis. The panelists include former refugee and Vikes Project Specialist Wali Hashi, photojournalist and asylum seeker Habibi Hasmatullah and Edris Bayan Shenwarai who started a project called Reffin in collaboration with Startup Refugees network that supports the employment and entrepreneurship of asylum seekers.

Reporting World News: From Body Counts to Covering Global Interdependencies

During the past couple of years we have witnessed an influx of terrorism, crises and violence and the foreign news sections of our newspapers have been filled with pictures and numbers of dead people. The professional skills of journalists are measured in reporting on these complex global issues. How to find the real stories and sources? How we as journalists can move away from simply listing dead bodies and towards discussing the reasons behind the depressing headlines?

Former New York Times Somalia correspondent Mohamed Ibrahim, journalist Katri Merikallio and media fixer and translator Waleed Al-Gburi gave their best advice on reporting world news in a panel discussion led by Managing Editor Anni Valtonen from Maailman Kuvalehti.

Freelancers Reporting Conflict, Crime and Corruption

In the recent years, journalism has become a high-risk occupation, especially when exposing crime, corruption and human rights abuses. At the same time, the number of foreign correspondents has decreased dramatically and the use of freelance journalists has increased even in the most dangerous environments. What are the risks involved in reporting on conflicts, crimes and corruption? And how can we ensure the safety of the profession also in the future?

Director Tina Carr and Head of Programmes Mary O’Shea from the Rory Peck Trust and photojournalist Niklas Meltio dealt with these and other questions and shared their insights on journalists’ safety.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Why don’t you ask us? - discussion tour in Latvia with journalist from Iraq

On October 11-13, 2017 a young journalist from Iraq, Haneen Jameel, visited Latvia on a discussion tour. Meetings and discussions with the journalist were part of the project “Better News Media” with the aim to raise media literacy among youth and awareness about asylum seekers, refugees and migration issues in order to fight racism and intolerance.
Events of the discussion tour were an opportunity to hear Haneen’s story about her work as a journalist in Iraq, the reasons why she had to leave her country and seek refuge in Europe, about integrating in Finland as well as how she sees refugee stories represented in European media.

On October 11th a meeting with a few dozen journalism students, lecturers and other interested people took place at the University of Latvia Faculty of Social Sciences. The discussion was moderated by Latvian Radio journalist Kārlis Dagilis, who started off the conversation noting the press and media differences around the world which are proven by the listing of the World Press Freedom Index[1] where Finland is third, Latvia is 28th but Iraq takes the 158th place. After hearing Haneen’s story participants had a chance to ask questions and find out more about the reactions from her closest people and community after they read her honest and critical articles on children’s and women’s issues in Iraq, her family’s endless support, how journalism students in Iraq are taught to avoid critiquing the government and what she thinks of European media that often tend to prioritize the number of clicks over the quality of content as well as well as the rather negative impact social media has nowadays. 

Haneen also visited centre “Marta” - a resource centre for women. This meeting took place on October 12th and it was an opportunity to share and exchange about the women’s rights situation in Latvia, Finland and Iraq. Representatives of the centre told more about the projects and campaigns they implement in Latvia and about projects carried out together with partners in Central Asia as well as shortly about the future ideas. During this conversation Haneen revealed that at first she thought of publishing her articles anonymously but then decided that she wants to give voice to the voiceless women and be part of the change in society and published the articles with her name.

Shortly before the meeting with representatives of “Marta” centre, Haneen gave an exclusive interview to Latvian Television[2], where among other things she emphasized how important it is to try to know one another better, accept and try to understand the cultural differences and strive to take down the wall of fear and prejudice between asylum seekers and Europeans. And despite the many negative news regarding refugees in European media, it is worth remembering that everything is not black or white, that just like in every society there are good and not so good people among refugees. 

Later in the evening on October 12th, a discussion about asylum seekers, refugees and migration took place at Kaņepes Kultūras centre. This two-hour long discussion was moderated by the UNHCR Northern Europe regional office representative Didzis Melbiksis, who started it with a short introduction of the global refugee situation and statistics provided by UNHCR[3]. It reveals that at the moment there are more than 65,5 million displaced people around the world, more than half of the refugees are younger than 18 years old and almost 85% of all refugees are taken in by developing countries, e.g. Lebanon, Jordan, Uganda. The audience of approximately 50 people showed deep interest and asked Haneen questions about the political situation in Iraq and Middle East, about the reasons she had to leave Iraq, how she got from Turkey across the Mediterranean sea to Europe, what are some of the details of immigration system in Finland, attitude of the locals and Finnish language lessons.

On October 13th Haneen visited Gulbene gymnasium and met with approximately 80 high school students and their teachers, who had the rare opportunity to hear an Iraqi journalist’s story about her life, work and studies in Iraq, why she had to leave her country and seek refuge in Europe, how she got to Finland and how it is to start a new life there. Students and teachers asked more about her family and friends - where and how are they, how difficult or easy it is to get new friends in Finland, what are some of Haneen’s hobbies, dreams and plans for future.

At the end of the discussion tour Haneen was happy to visit the Latvian Parliament house Saeima and notice the similarities and differences between parliaments in Iraq and Latvia. Hearing that out of 100 deputies in Saeima 18 are women, Haneen revealed that there are many women in the Parliament of Iraq, but their impact is insignificant and mostly formal.

[1] - World Press Freedom index ranking by “Reporters Without Borders”
[2] - Haneen’s interview with Latvian Television
[3] - UNHCR statistics of globally displaced people “Global Trends 2016”

Friday 6 October 2017

Coming: “Why don’t you ask us?” - discussion tour in Latvia with a journalist from Iraq

On October 11-13, 2017 Haneen Jameel, a journalist from Iraq, will visit Latvia for a discussion tour “Why don’t you ask us?” to meet with young journalists, students, NGO activists and other interested parties and discuss migration and refugee related topics and their representation in media.

Meetings with the journalist are happening as part of the project “Better news media” in order to give the opportunity for journalists, youth, youth workers and teachers to get to know the story of Haneen – her professional work in Iraq, why she needed to leave her country as a refugee, her integration story in Finland and how refugee stories are represented in European media.
Main events of the discussion tour are:

  • October 11th, 14.00 meeting with students at University of Latvia, Faculty of Social Sciences
  • October 12th, 19.00 discussion at Kaņepe Kultūras centre
  • October 13th, 10.00 meeting with students and teachers at Gulbene Gymnasium

During the tour meetings with representatives of local NGOs working in the field of migration, refugee support and human rights are planned to exchange experiences and best practices.

Project „Better News Media” is aimed to raise media literacy among young people and promote journalists'; awareness of the problem of refugees to combat racism and intolerance. Project is implemented from September, 2016 – December, 2017. Association “Humana People to People in Latvia” implements the project in Latvia, cooperating internationally with association “Mondo” from Estonia and “VIKES” from Finland.
Project is financed by EU programme “Europe for Citizens”.

Additional information:
Silvija Pūpola
NGO “Humana People to People in Latvia”
+371 26424291,

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Social media campaign in Latvia ""

Since 4th of July, 2017 multiple youngsters in project “Better News Media” have implemented and realized social media campaign “” with the main aim to raise media literacy among young people and promote journalists' awareness of the problem of refugees to combat racism and intolerance.
During the campaign youth work group has made three video interviews – with the executive director from Baltic Media Excellence Center Rita Ruduša about media literacy and fake news, Bashar about fake facts and with Adibis from refugee camp “Mucenieki” about refugees lives and the way how it is portrayed on social media. Also there are two articles. The first one is based on the video that is published on “” and filmed by the politician Artuss Kaimiņš in which he showed his unfounded intolerance about refugees living in Latvia. The second article is about news monitoring regarding refugees that shows the total picture in Latvian social media. During the project “” team participated in the conversation festival LAMPA and Dzīvā bibliotēka (Living Library) where the question about refugees being portrayed on social media was discussed with Latvian society.
Active campaign period will end in September, 2017, but campaign and all other necessary information will be available until year 2018.
Check out web of the campaign: 

conversation festival LAMPA

Living library in Riga

Living library in Riga

Living library in Riga

Monday 7 August 2017

Campaign to have better journalism on migration in Finland

#BetterNewsMedia was very active in Finland in spring 2017.

After the Winter School in Pärnu, the Finnish group of students and journalists started a campaign with the title #BringUsBack. Their idea is to challenge Finnish media houses to employ and use more journalists with refugee background as freelancers. The campaign was launched with a video in May. As of today, it has reached around 1400 people.

An international seminar was held in Helsinki on the 24th May, with 79 participants, who hailed from Finland, Germany, Mexico, Iraq, Somalia, North Caucasus, Portugal, Urugay, United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Egypt, Lithuania and Czech Republic. The keynote speaker was Ms. Elva Narcía from Mexico, and the other speakers were photojournalist Niklas Meltio, journalist Haneen Jameel and journalist Wali Hashi.

The lively discussion tackled difficult themes of representation and quality of western newscasting on the so-called developing countries and the refugee crisis.

A discussion tour with a similar theme went around universities where journalism is taught. “Why don’t you as us?” was the theme, and journalists Mohamed Ibrahim from Somalia and Haneen Jameel from Iraq discussed with students of journalism. We had 32 participants in Tampere on the 19th April and 31 in Turku on 10th May. A third discussion was held in Jyväskylä on the 29th September, and gathered altogether 39 participants.

The journalist students were very active in the discussions and wanted to know for example how they could work together with refugee journalists and what kind of stories remain untold.

In Tampere, we had also live video casting, organised by the Union of Journalists in Finland. This reached additional 809 people.

Jameel and Ibrahim were joined by a journalist from Afghanistan, Hussein Kazemian, in World Village Festival on the 28th May, where our journalist panel gathered more than 200 viewers. This was the main event in the discussion tour, and perhaps the first time for many Finns to encounter journalists who have come to Finland as refugees.

We also had indirect impact, far more than expected:

Speaker’s tour visited The National Broadcaster Yle’s radio programme Kultakuume (gold rush), which reached approximately 90 000 listeners. We also featured in World Village festival radio, which reached another 400-500 listeners.

Social media presence was very active. World Village Facebook posts reached 2 200 people, the international seminar 2 100 people and the speaker’s tour 2 400 in Tampere, 7 600 in Turku and 2200 in Jyväskylä. Vikes’s 1 050 Twitter followers very actively engaged, and dozens participated in discussion using the #BetterNewsMedia hashtag.

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Forum theatre performance on hate speech

In Estonia, at Telliskivi Creative Centre's birthday (22.4.2017), MTÜ Foorumteater prepared and performed a forum theatre play on how to discuss the issue of refugees at home and among family without using hate speech or fuelling conflicts between different opinions. 
This was part of campaign activities in Estonia.

Thanks to all participants who shared their opinions! 

Monday 10 April 2017

Social media winter school

One week-end in February youngsters from four different countries gathered in Pärnu, Estonia to discuss about media ethics, fake news and the effects of social media. Together they planned future social media campaigns on media ethics and refugees.

Participants commented their experience:

People from different backrounds came together to tackle the issue of negative media coverage of refugees through campaigning. Never forget to be more critical, analytical and open minded whilst consuming information. Look for the diversity in the media! #BetterNewsMedia

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Call for applications: Media/Campaigning Winter School in Pärnu, Estonia, 16-19 February 2017

Do you want to use media as a campaigning tool? Would you like to increase the media literacy of young people?

If yes, then take part in Media/Campaigning Winter School in Pärnu, Estonia, 16-19 February 2017!
We bring together 50 young people (media or journalism students, bloggers, youth workers) from Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to jointly work on a campaign tackling how refugees are portrayed in the media. The campaign will be run in the spring in all of these countries.
Training will be in English and run by campaigning experts from Finland, Estonia and Latvia.
There is no participation fee, travel, accommodation and food expenses will be covered by organizers.

Please fill in this this online application by the 20th of January.

More info: 
Irma Mets

More info about BetterNewsMedia project: