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Media Literacy in Romania

It was a real pleasure to get to spend time with Romanian teachers from across the country at the Media Literacy Conference sponsored by the Center for Independent Journalism, directed by Christina Lupu. It was also great to meet with her colleagues Ioana Avadani and Adriana Trocea. Did you know this organization has been part of the Romanian cultural landscape for 29 years? I had the great opportunity to offer a 2-hour teacher workshop on Friday, May 17th with 20+ teachers, give a keynote address to 100+ educators, and take some time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Bucharest.  

Renee Hobbs 2024Workshop: Media Literacy Instructional Practices for Every Teacher
How can media literacy education help address important community needs? Through a series of discussions and activiities, we reflected on our motivations for media literacy and considered how it shapes our choices in the classroom. 

Then we considered some of the key indicators of quality media literacy education and identified those that are most needed in Romania. Next, we reviewed 16 media literacy instructional practices that are foundational to students in primary and secondary education For homework, teachers were invited to plan how they could implement one or more instructional practices to address a timely and relevant community issue, using a creative design process to imagine educational futures. 

On Saturday, May 18th, the day-long conference featured a variety of presenters with expertise on media literacy in Romania. Near the end of the day, I made a short talk and engaged with the audience and their questions and comments. 

Keynote: Media Literacy for an AI World
Hobbs in BucharestThere is a tsunami of entertainment, information, and persuasion that floods into our daily lives. Some people are overwhelmed and others are exhilarated by the rise of generative AI, which is quickly becoming normative for both creators and consumers alike. At the same time, mistrust and distrust are rising because it’s so easy to use digital media tools to activate strong emotions, simplify information, and attack opponents. Thanks to algorithmic personalization, new forms of propaganda are being created and shared on social media. Tailored to our deepest hopes, fears, and dreams, these messages can, at times, seem irresistible. In this talk, I reviewed what the research shows about the benefits of internalizing the key concepts and critical questions of media literacy to address these challenges. When media literacy is combined with active listening, intellectual humility, and empathy, people can find common ground, restore trust, and deepen respect for shared human values.

Inspiring Colleagues 

It was also a pleasure to reconnect with Nicoleta Fotiade and her amazing team at Mediawise Society, and I also enjoyed getting to spend a bit of time with Cristina Nistor and Rares Beuran, faculty members at Babes-Bolyai University, who hosted a major media literacy conference in Cluj last fall.  

Getting to visit the Parliament Palace and the Ceaușescu Villa was a powerful opportunity to reflect on the long legacy of authoritarian rule in this country. I was also inspired by a couple of books about Romania that helped me better understand the complex history and cultural traditions of this fascinating place. I read Children of the Night, a nonfiction history of Romania by Paul Kenyon as well as the outstanding young adult novel, I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys. This incredible book follows the life of  17-year old Cristian Florescu, who must decide whether to be an informant or resist the Ceaușescu regime. Indeed, this book was the best work of historical fiction I have read so far in 2024! Put this one on your "must read" list to understand how fear works to erode trust and how courage, creativity and collaboration can help people escape the trap. 

Many people in the 21st century understand the terrible consequences that occur when people lose their trust in their government, their society, and each other. But the energy and dynamism of these forward-thinking educators was truly inspiring and it's clear that the people of Romania are moving into the future with significant momentum for the potential of media literacy education to rebuild transparency, accountability, and public trust. Indeed, it is the people of Romania whose energy, talent, and kindness so entranced me. It was a pleasure to make personal and professional connections with the many teacher-leaders whose creativity and passion is helping to build a better world. 
 Photo Credits

¬© Lauren»õiu BńÉdicioiu and ¬© Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea for the Center for Independent Journalism

By Renee Hobbs,