Leo Pekkala, Deputy Director of the National Audiovisual Institute, visited the OSCE conference in Vienna. In his blog, he talks about the highlights of his trip.

Media Literacy, Media Freedom Literacy and especially the situation and future of Media Literacy in Ukraine were discussed in Vienna, where on 27-28 May, the Maltese Chairpersonship of the OSCE, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, organised the II Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Media Literacy and Democracy.

I had the honour to address the delegations from the OSCE member countries (57 members) and other experts about the how Media Literacy is seen as an important building block for resilience in Finland. The strengthening of democratisation and national resilience against information interference are new tasks for us in media education at the National Audiovisual Institute of Finland (KAVI).

Promoting Media Literacy in Ukraine

The keynote speaker for the meeting was the Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, Mr. Taras Shevchenko. He also hosted a special side event, beginning with a grim depiction of the current situation in Ukraine. In addition to the ongoing war, Russia is attempting to influence Ukraine and Ukrainians through disinformation. For example, Russia is propagating the narrative of an illegal presidency of President Zelenskyi. However, as Mr. Shevchenko pointed out, the Constitution of Ukraine prohibits presidential elections during wartime. Russia has also long questioned the very existence of Ukraine as a nation and state.

The National Audiovisual Institute of Finland (KAVI) has been supporting Ukrainian media literacy efforts since 2021. In March 2021, KAVI and the Ministry for Culture and Information organised an online seminar, where KAVI shared information about the history of media literacy, current activities, and its work with Ukrainian colleagues. During a personal discussion in Vienna, Deputy Minister Shevchenko recalled the meeting as one of the starting points for the promotion of media literacy in Ukraine. Since 2021, KAVI and Ukrainian media literacy experts have held other meetings, and in 2023, KAVI hosted a large delegation from Ukraine.

One specific and successful project in Ukraine is FILTER. Olha Kravchenko, Head of Filter, told about the latest activities and plans of the programme. Another project Detector Media, fighting against disinformation, was presented by Director Galyna Petrenko. Detector Media has been responsible for the Media Literacy Index of Ukrainians, already for four years.

Media Freedom Literacy

Martina Chapman and Asja Rokša-Zubčević presented a new report on Media Freedom Literacy, which according to them “reflects the knowledge and skills that enable everyone to value the democratic functions of the media, both online and offline, and to understand the significance of a pluralistic and well-functioning media landscape serving the public interest. This concept also includes the ability to critically evaluate and ethically produce media and information content.” It will be interesting to see how this new addition to different media literacy definitions will evolve.

Finland will chair OSCE in 2025

I also had the honour to meet with Ambassador Vesa Häkkinen and some of the staff members from the Finland’s Permanent Mission to OSCE. Finland will chair OSCE in 2025 and the preparations are already undergoing. I hope Media Literacy will stay high on the agenda of OSCE during the Finnish Chairmanship.

Leo Pekkala, Deputy Director of the National Audiovisual Institute

(In picture, Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine Taras Shevchenko and Olha Kravchenko, Head of Filter -project, together with Leo Pekkala.)