Media Lab

Media Lab workshop originated from idea to organize set of workshops intended to engage refugees and locals in Storytelling & Journalism, Mobile Reporting and Effective Use of Social Media in order to raise their voices for integration and social inclusion.

So we did it.

Symbiosis with the support of UNHCR Representation in Greece, organized initial workshops in Athens and Thessaloniki between December 2021 and February 2022. Throughout the workshops, participants produced short videos, stories, podcasts, and photo stories – a learning process in responsible reporting. We explored various storytelling techniques and tools, in theory and practice, enhancing skills in mobile reporting, video-making and use of social media. The Media Lab empowered participants voices to tell compelling stories (their own or others), providing a platform for the participants to be heard and reach a wider audience.

On this journey we learnt how reporting should be accurate, independent and respectful and how it can be used to facilitate responsible reporting on forced displacement issues, with a focus on social inclusion.

As it happens, original idea morphed into something much broader than original workshops. We came to realize that Media Lab as a format can be perfect vessel for various topics regarding information flow (or lack thereof), as long as Media Lab stays true to original idea: empowering individuals to be heard and reach a wider audience.

So we did that too.

Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece, affiliated to the Council of Europe Network of Schools embarked on the “Information Disorder: Understanding propaganda techniques during a war infodemic” project from July to October 2022, in Thessaloniki and Athens. The aim has been to support participants in developing their understanding on the sources of misleading and/or false information and to activate critical thinking and media literacy skills in recognizing and responding to these phenomena, including by making their own stories. The project has been supported by the European Cultural Foundation.

This time focus was on the ongoing “war infodemic” and on countering multiple threats of disinformation, misinformation, propaganda filter bubbles and fake news promoted through media, following the invasion in Ukraine.

Stories of people experiencing the war, fleeing from harm, suffering trauma and displacement, all form part of how the war is perceived, as well as fought. Further, how political communication is designed and carried out, how political parties develop and defend positions, needs to be unpacked. As the world is witnessing the suffering of Ukraine, yet also many other parts of the world, with millions displaced and seeking safe refuge, news, language, and narratives are crucial to push for a culture of solidarity, freedom of information and expression and for creating safe and brave spaces, particularly for those displaced. The risk of being exposed to information disorder without actively recognizing how it might influence attitudes, knowledge, emotions and behaviours is dramatically increased and exacerbated during periods of crisis.

Then, from 21st to 23rd September the Athens Forum “Information disorder during a war infodemic” was hosted by the European Parliament, Liaison Office Greece. The Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Thessaloniki, the Council of Europe and InsideStory as a media sponsor, supported the event further.

Experts and journalists from Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania, Turkey and Italy, displaced persons, civil society advocates, humanitarian workers, media workers and students discuss on how, fueled by politics, economics and history, the global take on the war in Ukraine has varied from region to region, particularly given the role that (dis)information has played in influencing these views. Discussions focused on how misinformation plays part in and is part of the war, mechanisms of misinformation, unfolding political narratives, challenges in reporting from the field, debunking the phenomenon in the media, including social, and discussing ways forward, including news checking. How information is diffracted and multidimensional, mediased in unprecedented extent, serving strategic agendas and controlled yet at the same time spiraling out of control. How narratives on the war/s invariably are abundant and differ.

Now what?

Now we move on.