Digital Media Literacy: Romania

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Part
01

Misinformation / DML Prevalence: Romania

Seven examples of high profile misinformation or disinformation events in Romania have been provided in the “1 — Misinfo / DML Prevalence” tab of the attached spreadsheet. These examples uncovered disinformation events, provided insights into the prevalence/awareness of disinformation in Romania and the demand for digital media literacy in the country. A brief overview of these examples is provided below.

Disinformation and European Erosion in Romania

Fake News Invades Social Media Before Second Round of Presidential Elections in Romania

Romania’s Fake News Fuels Euroscepticism

  • This article discusses several serious incidents of fake news in Romania that are spreading Euroscepticism.

Missile Defence System Was Deployed in Romania Without Permission

  • In this example, EUvsDisinfo, a "flagship project of the European External Action Service’s East StratCom Task Force", disproves a critical disinformation event spread by Russia's media outlet, Sputnik, claiming that NATO deployed missile defence systems in Romania without permission.

The Murder Suspect From Caracal Supplies Girls to NATO Soldiers

  • In this example, EUvsDisinfo disproves the disinformation stories that linked the murder of a teenager in Caracal, Romania to a network that supplies girls to the American military in Deveselu.

Romania: Disinformation Resilience Index

The US Admits They Want to Involve in Romania’s Internal Affairs

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Part
02

DML Government Actions: Romania

DML Government Actions: Romania

The shared document lists 11 most notable actions or decisions by Romanian government over the past 5 years to respond to disinformation, with express focus on digital media literacy and empowering users, and these are listed under the tab, "2-DML Government Actions". These include government-implemented programs such as 'Youngsters' Safety on Internet' and 'No Hate Speech' and also a report presented before EU on disinformation and a collaborative effort pioneered by Romania involving the member states of European Union.

The 11 identified actions are briefly detailed below:

#1 Youngsters' Safety on Internet

  • The Romanian Ministry of Education in association with Microsoft Partners for Education program, Save the Children, the General Police Inspectorate and the Romanian Center for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children (Focus Center), has translated and adapted the 'Youngsters' Safety on Internet' program, an online digital media literacy service. This program is a guide to proper and safe internet usage. The training is given through comics that depict real-life actions.
  • Through this training program, primary school students, secondary school students, teachers, parents, and legal guardians can learn about how to ensure their or their children's safety while using Internet. This program is approved by the Romanian Ministry of Education as an authorized educational resource for schools.

#2 No Hate Speech

  • To create awareness about the risks arising from new digital media, Romania promoted 'No Hate Speech' campaign. This project teaches the young people about the "negative effects" of spreading hatred in the online environment. The project also aims at reducing online hate campaigns. The project is funded by Romania's EEA Grants- NGO Fund.

#3 National Strategy for the Romanian Digital Agenda

  • Romania adopted its national policy on digital media titled, National Strategy for the Romanian Digital Agenda 2020, in February 2015. The strategy aims at enabling at least 35% of the population to use e-government systems by 2020. It also envisages at least 60% of the population using internet on a regular basis by 2020.

#4 The Trust Initiative

  • The government of Romania is organizing debates on digital media disinformation bringing together European Union "Member States to share national best practices and solutions and to contribute to concrete European initiatives and actions" to re-establish trust in digital media among the Romanian public.

#5 Romanian Presidency Report on Disinformation

  • The Romanian Presidency published a report on the prevalence and the challenge of disinformation faced by European Union member states. The report scrutinized the commitments followed by Romanian online platforms with respect to the self-disciplinary Code of Practice on Disinformation.

#6 General Data Protection Rights (GDPR)

  • Romania implemented General Data Protection Rights (GDPR) in 2018. This regulation protects the privacy of citizens and their right to know how their data is being used by third parties. However, GDPR is often misused to stifle authentic journalism.

#7 Using GDPR Against Alleged Disinformation

  • Based on the GDPR framework, the Romanian government acted against a digital journalism startup that published news about a scandal involving high profile politicians. The government asked the company to divulge information about their sources.

#8 YouTube Live

  • Romanian government has a YouTube channel that regularly publishes videos on government functioning and activities and reaches out to the public through this digital media platform.

#9 Facebook

  • Romanian government has a Facebook page that is regularly updated with governance-related news and information and reaches out to the public through this digital media platform.

#10 The Romanian National Defense Strategy

  • The Romanian National Defense Strategy (2015-2019) points out that Russia has become a threat to the security of Romania and Europe and that the misinformation campaigns that Russia carries out against Romania has developed into a national security problem.

#11 The Romanian Presidency's Policy Against Misinformation

Research Strategy

Your research team carried out a direct internet search of Romania-focused digital media research reports, news items, and official website posts of the different departments of the government of Romania, on and related to digital media literacy and disinformation. Many of these sources, including the reports published by different government departments of Romania such as the Romanian Agency for Digital Agenda and Ministry of Communication and Information Society provided the details of some notable actions by the Romanian government to tackle misinformation and promote digital media literacy. However, your research team still fell short of finding 15 such notable actions. As an alternative research strategy, your team looked into European Union reports on digital media literacy and fake news but such reports available online had only very basic and often outdated information on Romania. Though the official social media pages of the government of Romania have a broad focus on digital media literacy among the public, your team could not locate any specific action undertaken by the government towards the same goal via social media. There is also no information available on the government level digital media literacy initiatives in Romania focused at a specific demographic group other than the young people's internet safety program listed above. What your research team could conclude from the available facts is that though Romania faces a huge threat of fake news and misinformation, the government action on this front is still very rudimentary.
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Part
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DML Players, Part 1: Romania

The five key players in the DML space in Romania are The National Audiovisual Council, The Institute for Sociology or Romanian Academy, Mediawise Society, Ministry of Education, and One World Association. Below is a summary, while details of our findings were entered in tab "3-DML Players" of the attached spreadsheet.

5 Key Players

  • The Institute for Sociology or Romanian Academy is a scientific research organization in the field of social-human sciences, having half a century of experience in carrying out activities in the specified field.
  • Mediawise Society mainly specializes in media literacy education, media audience research, community of practice, media research, media education tools and resources, digital literacy, training of trainers, non-profit.
  • The Ministry of Education's mission is to generate an educational environment that ensures the harmonious development of all its beneficiaries, by promoting excellence and facilitating equal access to education.
  • One World Association aims to create a community and a strong civil society, as well as to contribute to the promotion of cinema culture among young audiences.

Research Strategy:

For this request, we found a list of the key players in media literacy for Romania that provides details on the activities within the media literacy and digital media literacy space. A review of its content for organizations with an active role in digital media literacy provided 8 organizations. In order to identify 5 key players in the digital media literacy space in Romania, we looked at each organization with the aim of settling on those that were most active in the space.
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Part
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DML Players, Part 2: Romania

Some key players in the digital media space in Romania include the NGO Fund in Romania, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCSI), Globe Reporters, the Center for Independent Journalism, and Active Watch. All five organizations are dedicated to improving, promoting, and enhancing digital literacy in Romania. Full details can be found in the attached spreadsheet.

NGO Fund in Romania

Ministry of Communications and Information Society (MCSI)

Globe Reporters

The Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ)

Active Watch




Part
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Part
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DML Initiatives, Part 1: Romania

Three initiatives in Romania that focus on digital media literacy (DML) are Switch Off/Online Hate Speech, Globe Reporters, and Mind over Media. The details for each are provided below, as well as in the attached spreadsheet.

Switch Off/Online Hate Speech

  • This campaign was implemented by Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR) and was funded through a grant from EEA Grants. The initiative received a total grant of €51,501, against a total cost of €57,383. PATRIR is a peacebuilding organization with an overall focus on constructive resolution of conflicts.
  • Although the main project website is no longer active, the archive site Wayback Machine indicates that the site was live from late 2015 until May 2019. Therefore, the assumption was made that the program launched in 2015. This is supported by the fact that PATRIR reported on the campaign in its 2015 annual report.
  • The campaign was unique as it created a working group that consisted of the top 10 bloggers/vloggers and ten prominent journalists in Romania. This influential group was offered training in the areas of "empathic communication, conflict transformation, human rights and intercultural dialogue." The group was then tasked with launching an online and offline campaign to fight hate speech.
  • The campaign reached over 500,000 internet users.
  • Eight videos were made in a series called the No Hate Speech Debate that featured the Romanian actor/comedian Bogdan Bob Radulescu.
  • This was identified as a major initiative due to its association with the No Hate Speech movement by the Council of Europe.

Globe Reporters

  • Globe Reporters launched in 2007, and was used in Romania during the 2014/2015 school year. The initiative allows secondary students to function as journalists, working with actual journalists who help them navigate choosing a topic, finding sources, drafting interviews, and collecting digital sources. The whole process allows students to see how news is made, which will hopefully make them more savvy news consumers as well.
  • Although there was no publicly available information on the results specific to Romania, the program has 510 students, 35 teachers and 6 journalists who have participated overall.
  • Other than Romania, some countries the program has operated in include Mali, Senegal, Haiti, and Tunisia.
  • This was identified as a major initiative due to the fact that it has successfully been in operation for over 10 years.

Mind Over Media

  • Mind Over Media is a program created by MediaWise in Romania, along with other organizations. The program focuses on developing a network of experts and teachers in the field of media education.
  • There are several tools available on the website including educational resources to learn about how to identify propaganda, a voting tool to provide visitors with the opportunity to decide if examples are real or propaganda, and the ability for visitors to upload their own propaganda examples.
  • It is not clear when the program was launched. There is a 2015 copyright date on the site which may indicate that that was the year the program launched, but that could not be verified.
  • To provide success metrics, a search for the number of site visitors was conducted. SimilarWeb did not have a record of the site, and Alexa provided some statistics on keywords and bounce rates for the site, but no data on the number of visitors.
  • This was selected as a major initiative due to its being sponsored by the MediaWise Society, an important player in the DML space in Romania, that is associated with Media Literacy Europe and the International Association for Media Education.


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Part
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DML Initiatives, Part 2: Romania

Two additional digital media literacy (DML) initiatives in Romania are All Digital Week Romania and Teaching Media Literacy. The details for each are provided below, as well as in the attached spreadsheet.

All Digital Week Romania

  • All Digital Week is an annual campaign organized by All Digital and run in various countries by organizations that partner with All Digital. The Romanian partner is the EOS Foundation.
  • 2019 was the tenth year that Romania participated in All Digital Week. While the week included a wide variety of topics, online security and testing for digital competences were topics related to DML.
  • There were a total of 150 centers that registered to hold events during the week, with over 200 online and offline events held, and more than 11,000 people participated.
  • This was identified as a major DML initiative due to its growth and success for over 10 years, as well as its association with a wider European effort.

Teaching Media Literacy

  • This is a program that was developed by the Romanian-American Foundation in conjunction with Centrul pentru Jurnalism Independent (CJI) to focus on media literacy and diversity. The program specifically mentions social media as one of the areas of focus so digital media is included in the mission.
  • The program started in January 2017 and is running through the end of 2019.
  • One workshop for high school students that was offered in March 2019 had "fake news, disinformation, misinformation and propaganda" as one of three main areas of focus.
  • Although the results of the program have not yet been made public, likely because the program is still active, there were some statistics provided on the expected outcomes for the program: 11,000 students will improve media literacy skills ; 14 teachers will become media literacy advocates for their peers; and 90 teachers will implement media literacy techniques in their classroom, and share those techniques with a minimum of 10 other teachers.
  • This was included as a major DML initiative due to the involvement of CJI, a well respected organization that has been around since 1994 and provided courses to over 10,000 people. It was also included because the example course we found had a direct focus on the area of digital media literacy which had been hard to find in other programs.

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Part
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The Future of DML, Part 1: Romania

The enclosed commentary related to the future of digital media literacy (DML) in Romania suggests that state of DML in the country is far from ideal, and that significant reforms across the government and education system are required to achieve DML objectives in the future.

Summary of Insights

  • The expert commentary provided within the enclosed spreadsheet highlights the numerous impediments that will need to be addressed to improve DML in the country going forward.
  • For example, a current evaluation of the DML activities of Romania by internet and education expert Better Internet for Kids suggests that Romania has taken several fundamental steps towards DML, but has significant progress to make the implementation of best practices in the DML space.
  • Similarly, an April of 2018 research study by West University of Timisoara professors Gabriela Grosseck and Laura Malita found that DML among Romanian university students was "bleak," and that pervasive issues within the country's education system are currently impeding DML efforts.
  • As part of this report, the West University of Timisoara also recommended a more consolidated, integrated effort across Romania's school system, government, technology providers and other relevant stakeholders to adequately address DML needs going forward.
  • Separately, in August of 2019, social media company Facebook reported that the levels of disinformation in Romania are high and largely driven by the nation's Social Democratic Party, revealing that this internal and systemic issue would need to be resolved to further DML objectives in the country.
  • Meanwhile, internet search company Google identified Romania in September of 2018 as a country that could benefit from its Young Digital Leaders program, one of several corporate initiatives to improve DML in key locations and nations.
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Part
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The Future of DML, Part 2: Romania

Five additional opinion pieces / online commentary around the future of digital media literacy in Romania have been compiled in the attached spreadsheet. The research findings were collected from an opinion piece by research expert (Ciurea Maria), an online commentary by internet and education expert Better Internet for Kids, an opinion piece by research experts (Laura Malita, Gabriela Grosseck, and Simina Sava), and an opinion by Florinela MOCANU.

THE FUTURE OF DML, PART 2: ROMANIA

  • As per the research conducted by expert researcher (Ciurea Maria), there is a need to encourage digital literacy in the education of young people in Romania.
  • According to the research, "digital competences are essential in the education of young people because they help them take full advantage of the digital world — both as employees and as future entrepreneurs. A young and well-educated workforce is a great opportunity for Romania to take full advantage of the benefits of the digital revolution and to advance economically. That is why encouraging digital literacy must be one of the most important objectives of the 2017-2020 governance program, and digital skills should be the backbone of a modern education system."
  • Through The Digital Assembly, BIK (The Better Internet for Kids) team highlighted four vital issues in DML (digital media literacy). The team also represented the transformation of digital media in the society that could further help to "bring positive change" to its citizen's lives. Going forward, these programs would spread awareness for young people in Romania "to develop strong digital and media literacy from an early age. "
  • The research study by Florinela MOCANU, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania, aimed to analyze the current status of digital media literacy (DML) among young adults in Romania. According to the study, young individual's lives have greater involvement in both social media and technology in several ways. People have both positive and negative attitudes. Going forward, it will be important to give attention to the level of children's exposure to "inappropriate information."

Sources
Sources

From Part 02
Quotes
  • "The National Strategy for the Digital Agenda (2014-2020) developed in line with the Digital Agenda for Europe, aims to impact public policies and to boost up the investment in information and communication technology in order to generate economic development."
  • "Youngsters’ Safety on Internet has been translated and adapted in Romanian through the Microsoft Partners for Education program, with the support of Save the Children, the Ministry of Education, the General Police Inspectorate and the Focus Center (Romanian Center for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children). It is the first version of an online training service in Romanian."
  • "The campaign No Hate Speech had been promoted in Romania as well both through grass-roots initiatives and also through the national initiative structured within the project the Switch OFF / ONline Speechproject that was part of this international movement, proposing to raise the level of awareness of the causes and the negative effects that the hate induction gives rise to, but also to reduce its incidence , especially in the online environment."
Quotes
  • "The strategy also establishes the following indicators for 2020 Romania: - At least 35% of people use e-government systems; - At least 60% of citizens use the Internet regularly; - At least 30% of citizens make purchases online; - Coverage with broadband communication networks (over 30 Mbps) of minimum 80%."
Quotes
  • "Considering the current challenges that the media and audio-visual industries are confronted with, fighting disinformation through media literacy and quality journalism is a stringent necessity. In order to reinforce trust in the digital media, the Romanian Presidency will facilitate debates on this issue, inviting Member States to share national best practices and solutions and to contribute to concrete European initiatives and actions."
Quotes
  • " Online platforms have become important gateways to information and, as such, play a distinct role as a vehicle with the potential to spread possibly harmful information. Further assessment of the responsibility of online platforms was requested by several Member States. In this regard, in the period between January and May 2019, the commitments undertaken by online platforms in the self-regulatory Code of Practice on Disinformation were monitored particularly closely by the Commission. "
  • " In terms of the impact of disinformation campaigns on different groups, respondents identified young people, senior citizens and persons belonging to different types of minorities as being among the most vulnerable."
Quotes
  • "In a notable case, Romania’s implementation of GDPR (passed in July 2018 as Law No. 190) significantly narrowed down the Article 85 journalism exemption."
Quotes
  • "For example, the Romanian National Defence Strategy for 2015-2019 explicitly identifies Russia as a threat to Romanian and European security; inter alia, it recognizes the danger of “hostile informational actions, which trigger the development of some support points on national territory, especially with an influential purpose”."
Quotes
  • "The Romanian Presidency has prioritised promoting European common values such as the combating of “racism, intolerance, xenophobia, populism and antisemitism and discouraging] hate speech”. This will also comprise of efforts to design European mechanisms to tackle online disinformation."
From Part 04
Quotes
  • "Consolidating the development of civil society and increasing the contribution to social justice, democracy, and sustainable development"
Quotes
  • "The ministry's mission is to create sustainable premises for the transition to the information society in Romania."
Quotes
  • "Globe Reporters is supported by the association Le retour de Zalumée which brings together journalists from national media, teachers from different cycles and digital professionals."
Quotes
  • "The Center for Independent Journalism is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, offering courses and specialized training for journalists and media organizations."
Quotes
  • "ActiveWatch Media Monitoring Agency is a human rights organization that militates for free communication for public interest."
Quotes
  • "ActiveWatch Media Monitoring Agency is a human rights organization that militates for free communication for public interest."