In this day and age when practically every media consumer can also be a media producer, media practitioners see the need to educate the public, especially the youth, on mindful consumption of content and being responsible sources of information. This seminar series initiated by the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) in cooperation with the Pimentel Institute for Leadership and Governance (PILG) intends to upskill the youth and enable them to do fact-checking, identify misinformation and differentiate disinformation from mal-information. The idea is for them to gain competency in managing information, avoid being led by false information, and hone these skills towards becoming discerning, proactive and responsible consumers of media and engaged citizens of society.
With the country’s next round of national elections coming up in about a year’s time, the PPI developed an informational program for the youth with experts from the academe, media organisations and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on voter education that is being held in collaboration with different educational institutions nationwide. This series of online activities equips the youth with the mindset and tools to deal with the profusion of content they come across on a daily basis. It also explains the value of voting to the youth and enjoins them to be involved citizens as means of supporting a democratic society.
The speakers underlined the value of media literacy and how it contributes to the robustness and durability of a country’s democracy. To somehow provide an ‘insider’s view,’ the different ways by which COMELEC ends up on the receiving end of attempts at casting doubt upon its integrity, possible reasons therefor and how it addresses these situations were also discussed. The vicious cycle that the Filipino continue to get caught up in despite the regular change of government with every presidential election was explained as a means of casting light on the long-overdue structural reforms that are yet to be achieved in the country towards better governance.
Various examples were used by the speakers to expound on responsible consumption and dissemination of information. The different ways by which the participants can verify facts and information were illustrated; tips and tools, imparted. Attention was also drawn to the importance of citizens’ maintaining vigilance before the elections, during the elections, and especially after, when the officials have assumed their elective positions.
To vote is both a civic right and duty. Exercising one’s right and fulfilling one’s duty by voting is part of civic engagement. Voting is thusly an important means of promoting democracy as well as helping to sustain it. Voting literacy helps ensure that citizens make informed decisions and are able to make their voices heard and participate in democracy. With the plethora of media and information being produced every second nowadays, people, especially the youth, need to be educated on how to check, discern and manage information in a way that by which they are able to exercise liberty and protect democracy in a proactive and responsible manner.
With the knowledge gained from the seminar, the participants were urged to get involved in community activities and national initiatives; observe current events and maintain vigilance; be aware of the policies being passed by the government and exercise their right to question these; understand what they need to be aware of and inform fellow citizens; learn to differentiate true from false information and share only verified ones; and, actively take on the role of a citizen in a democratic society.
This activity is part of the ongoing Scholastic Press Outreach Program on Voter Education of the PPI organised in cooperation with the PILG with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation and in collaboration with the MEM Network. Previous activities were conducted together with the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila, the Cavite State University in the Province of Cavite in the Calabarzon Region and the Isabela State University in the Province of Isabela, Cagayan Valley. The next seminars are planned to be organised with universities in the Visayan Islands.