As a part of the Humanity in Action 2018 Sarajevo Fellowship, new Fellows from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the US and other parts of Europe created a civic campaign aimed at increasing media literacy after being astonished by the diversity of perspectives Bosnian citizens had on the same topics as well as the high level of bias within media and how it further deepens the divide between citizens. It seemed, to the Fellows, that the media use in Bosnia and Herzegovina enhances the divisions within society and spreads further confusion and misunderstanding about the facts – confusion which is then used by political parties for their own purposes.
Taking into consideration all of the confusion, lack of data and relatively poor media education, the Fellows wanted to improve media-citizen relations through an educational civic campaign. Their objectives: to make people aware of the media bias, to confront people of different backgrounds with the media literacy reality, to integrate them a part of the mechanism which rules within the media, and finally to achieve people’s understanding of information subjectivity and of the importance of holding a critical spirit while being confronted with any kind of information. This would ideally allow participants of the campaign to recognize different interpretations and realities that existent both within the events about which they read or hear -becoming aware of the fact that each story told is already an interpretation and, therefore, subjective – and among the masses who interpret these news items. The results were both enlightening and encouraging.
Fellows begin the project by interviewing the citizenry on the street. They presented people with different headlines, which are variations on the same theme, (whether a true historical event covered by a multiplicity of sources or an invented event that displays various perspectives is to be determined), which addressed the issue of media bias/subjectivity and encourage people to sharpen their critical thinking skills. The video produced from these interviews demonstrates the range of interpretations one could have and addresses media bias, sharpening critical skills and encouraging people to question their sources. In order to visualize the different interpretations of the headlines we partly want to animate the participants answers. Flyers were also created sharing their key steps to better assessing media stories, which were shares at an event premiering the video and further encouraging participants to question distorted media and not uncritically digest news.