Stéphane Hoebeke, lawyer at RTBF, outlines the new multi-year media education plan at the Belgian French-language public service broadcaster.
European audiences need media literacy now more than ever. In Belgium, as I’m sure in most countries, we are facing a dangerous rise in disinformation. To combat this, RTBF has created a new, strategy: the Media Education Plan 2023 to 2027.
Our approach is global, cross-cutting and structured into 8 areas of activity, with no hierarchy among them. We developed this plan based on our understanding of the evolving media landscape and our genuine commitment to empower our audience.
Action 1: Develop critical thinking in all media use
Our ambition is to decode the media for audiences in order to develop critical thinking, individual emancipation and social cohesion. We aim to accompany our audiences in search of reference points, particularly in the digital world, and to encourage their participation.
The public engages with media as recipients, users, authors or producers, and increasingly this interaction takes place online. We hope to make our audiences active, autonomous, aware, responsible, supportive, participative, and creative when dealing with media content.
Promoting media literacy involves showing all the potential of media content, including the risks, in a hyper-connected, fragmented, polarised and 'borderless' society.
While respecting our editorial independence, we are free to tackle all the themes that are relevant to the uses, expectations and needs of our audiences. These themes include:
Action 2: Broadcasting content
RTBF disseminates media education content for all our audiences, whatever their age or level of education or information. We do this primarily in a cross-cutting way (for example, in a news bulletin) or in a specific way, through dedicated content.
Action 3: Decoding information
We broadcast information and content that decodes the media or the media's treatment of current affairs.
To counter misinformation, we invest in investigative journalism as well as constructive and solutions-based journalism. We are developing and using an application for analysing, verifying and certifying information. It’s accessible on our website, which also offers media decoding content, particularly in cases of disinformation and manipulation of information.
Action 4: Encourage audience participation
We create links with all our audiences by developing the most appropriate mechanisms for relations, interaction and dialogue, such as:
We explain our editorial choices to the public: producing and broadcasting content means making choices based primarily on an editorial line and values.
Action 5: Identify and raise the profile of content and actions
We communicate our actions on all relevant media and in the field.
We identify, references and encode media literacy content within the framework of an effective metadata management tool. This enables us to incorporate content on our website, online media player (Auvio) or in e-classes, improve content discoverability and provide content recommendations, enhancing overall communication.
Action 6: Collaborate with media education players
We collaborate with the CSEM (Conseil supérieur de l'éducation aux médias), notably around public events.
We are convinced of the need to build bridges between our activities and those carried out within teaching, education and youth.
RTBF forges partnerships with any association or organisation active in media education. At the international level, we collaborate in particular with the MFPs, the EBU, the European Union, the Council of Europe and UNESCO.
Action 7: Raise awareness and train staff
We raise awareness of media literacy among our staff, through regular meetings and training courses.
We organise ongoing training for members of our editorial staff in the most advanced techniques for verifying fake news and in the use of new investigative tools, possibly in partnership with other media.
Action 8: Reporting
Every year, no later than 30 April, we will evaluate this plan in collaboration with CSEM. We will report our results in a summary attached to our annual report.