View of one of the sessions held as part of the workshop in Bucharest, Romania.

Workshop On Media And Technology Literacy In Bucharest

“We need to focus on balancing the wide-ranging pros and cons so that we can better harness the disruption that technology has introduced,” Megan Ward, administrative director of the New Media Institute at the University of Georgia,” told the participants in a workshop at the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania, in early November 2019. “Let’s work to ensure that we are allowing technology to benefit us - not control us, not isolate us, not diminish us. Let’s lean on its capacity to further our education, further our professional development, improve our personal relationships, and continue to change the world in the coming decade. Let’s shift our relationship with technology and establish priorities that refocus the use of our devices. And moving forward, let’s turn to each other more than we turn to our devices.”

The workshop was the 10th consecutive annual training program organized by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia in partnership with the Center for Research in Communication of the College of Communication and Public Relations at the Romanian university in Bucharest. The Cox International Center is the international outreach unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Remus Pricopie, rector of SNSPA, emphasized that these workshops are only a part of the collaboration between the U.S. and the Romanian university, which has included faculty exchanges, joint research projects, coordination of international conferences, and participation in the Erasmus Plus program. “We are grateful to Dr. Paul Dobrescu, former SNSPA rector, and Dr. Lee Becker, who initiated this exceptional relationship more than 15 years ago!”

Grady College professor Mark Johnson talked about the need for social media verification. “It’s important that you develop a process for verification before you actually need it,” Johnson said. “Then it must be tested, assigned to people within your organization and they must be trained on it. It needs to be enforced, as well, meaning you apply it on every image, even ones you think are not controversial. Lastly, it’s important to share that process with your audience - transparency is key in journalism. If everyone knows how you do something it will minimize the opportunities to attack the process.”

Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru, public relations professor in the Grady College, used the example of Venezuela to explain how the new media can be an information alternative to traditional media in a country with authoritarian or totalitarian regimes. “Technology has social uses, but also political power,” she said in one of her presentations.

From left to right: Megan Ward, administrative director of the New Media Institute, Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru, public relations professor in the Grady College, and Dr. Tudor Vlad, director of the Cox International Center.

The coordinators of the workshop were Dr. Tudor Vlad, director of the Cox International Center at the University of Georgia, and Dr. Bianca Chereji, member of the Communication and Public Relations Department at SNSPA.

“Every year we have tried to find a hot topic for our programs here in Bucharest, and dean Alina Bargaoanu has had the most important contribution in identifying such issues,” Dr. Vlad said in his closing remarks. The most successful workshops were on European Union challenges (organized during the Brexit vote), on health communication and vaccines, on fake news, and on media literacy.”