On Friday, 25 November 2022, MEP Irena Joveva attended a “European Picnic” event organised by the Europe Direct Pomurje information point, where guests and students from the Murska Sobota Gymnasium discussed the topic of media literacy. The MEP stressed that media literacy is crucial in all areas of our lives, as it determines how we receive and evaluate information.

Joveva pointed out that the importance of media literacy should not least be borne in mind by school curriculum developers, who, when reforming teaching processes, should take into account current developments. In this context, she considers it particularly important to ensure that media literacy and critical thinking are taught as much as possible in primary and secondary schools. In particular, she would like pupils and students to see such content not as an additional burden but as something that will prove very useful in their lives. Joveva expressed her wish that there were more opportunities for action in this area, includingat the European level.

I have high hopes for the Action Plans that are to be adopted or have already been adopted by the European Commission and endorsed by the European Parliament. This includes, for example, the Digital Education Action Plan, the creation of the European Education Area and more.

The MEP went on to describe her own experience with disinformation, which today –without solid media literacy – is very difficult to identify. She shared what happened to her at the beginning of her term as an MEP, when a fake news story about her appeared on the internet and spread rapidly. Because it was so bizarre, she did not pay much attention to it or publicly deny it. She explained to the students that she still regrets not having reacted more quickly.

Joveva went on to explain how she sees the difference between hate speech and freedom of speech.

If someone says or writes that I am stupid because I am, for example, advocating for an independent Radio-Television Slovenia, that is freedom of speech, fine. Even if such language is uncouth. But if someone writes that I am stupid because my parents were not born in Slovenia, that is hate speech.” At the same time, she stressed the importance of cultural tolerance: “There should be no tolerance for intolerance. There is nothing wrong if we don’t agree about everything, but we have to be able to say it to each other in a civilised manner, without hate speech, and without being disrespectful.”

Another topic of discussion was the situation of journalists, and the MEP assessed that the conditions in which they currently work in Slovenia are abysmal. She also expressed her conviction that in this profession personal integrity is key.

All journalists must be aware of the purpose of their work and their mission. Their mission is to serve the public interest, i.e. to present to the people, to the public, information that is as objective as possible and fully credible.”

In addition to MEP Joveva, the debate, moderated by Grega Donša, was attended by Dr Sonja Merljak Zdovc, co-founder of online newspaper Časoris, and Simon Balažic, editor-in-chief of the Televizija AS TV channel.

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