Moldova is the poorest country in Central Europe, and according to Transparency International, among the most corrupt. More than 80 percent of domestic television stations are owned by people affiliated with political parties. Moldova continues to face Russian dominance, including in the media space, and has been dealing with an avalanche of “fake news.” In February, before the parliamentary elections, Facebook removed 168 accounts, 28 pages, and eight Instagram accounts from its platforms after it was discovered they were targeting people in Moldova with misinformation and disinformation. This was a result of the efforts of journalism organizations in Moldova that are fighting the problem. Coming at the issue from another angle, in March, Internews launched a six-month media literacy campaign targeted at under-informed rural communities and aimed at arming citizens to identify truth in the media. The campaign provides on-the-go media literacy information to commuters and other people in transit by placing media literacy infographic posters on minibuses throughout the country. This form of public transport carries passengers between the capital and remote cities and villages as well as across all three regions (the northern, central, and southern parts) of the country. As part of a literacy media campaign in rural Moldova, posters were placed in minibuses used by commuters.Translation: Five Indications of Unbiased and Professional News 1. Answers the following questions: what? how? why? where? when? who? 2. Focused / short reporting on a fact or event 3. Presents something novel 4. Refers to at least two independent sources 5. Does not include the opinion of the journalistSome passengers welcomed the mini-bus initiative. Others questioned why media institutions that manipulate consumers haven’t suffered any legal consequences. Several young passengers mentioned that they had no time to read the posters as they were preoccupied with other activities like playing games or chatting on their smartphones. Internews' partner, the Advertising Agency Promotion Group, adapted and printed approximately 10,000 posters and infographics, which have been distributed and placed on the backs of seats of 111 minibuses in Moldova. The posters were designed by the Association of Independent Press, Internews partner Center for Independent Journalism, the STOP FALS platform, and the Association of Independent TV Journalists. Translation: How can we stop the spread of fake news? Is this website credible? Is it regularly updated? Did you verify who are the members of the team? Is the listed author a real person? What materials did he/she worked on so far? Is the title reflecting the content of the news? Is it unbiased and observes journalism ethics? Is the website a satire website, is this piece of news a joke? When was this piece of news made?• • • The Minibus Campaign was funded by USAID and UK Aid through Internews’ Media-M project.
Impact: Citizen Voice in Media
There’s nothing more important to functioning democracies than an informed, engaged public. When citizens have access to trustworthy media that includes diverse perspectives and sources, they are empowered to speak out on the issues that most affect them.
To hold governments accountable, citizens need accurate information about complex issues. In too many places, legal restrictions, threats, and intimidation impede journalists’ work, and journalists themselves lack the skills needed for investigative reporting. Citizens, too, often lack the education and know-how to effectively evaluate and participate in local media.
Internews supports citizen voice in media by providing journalism training and mentorship that helps independent reporters produce in-depth, informative content. Our media partners produce work that engages citizens through education and two-way conversations. Media literacy programs give everyday people tools to combat misinformation.
How Supporting Independent Media Supports Good Governance
The United Nations identifies eight elements of good governance. Internews’ work, overlaid in orange, has a direct impact on citizens’ ability to participate and hold governments to account.
Impact - Liberia
In advance of Liberia's historic October election, with the support of Internews, 126 public debates were held in every single district, a first for this post-conflict nation, enabling lower house candidates to reach Liberia’s electorate in person – many for the first time.
The town of Butuo in Nimba County was host to the first-ever debate for candidates wanting to represent the region in Liberia’s third post-conflict presidential and legislative elections. One of the residents, 59-year-old Joseph Dahn was happy to witness this historic event.
"Thank God we are talking democracy in Buuto, not war, because this is the birth place of the Liberian civil war that killed thousands of innocent people. People only remember Buuto when you talk about the war years, but the story is different today as we host a debate that will help citizens vote for the right candidate for this region.”
The Challenge for Journalists
In this video, Journalists from Kazakhstan, Kenya, El Salvador, Moldova, Pakistan and Tajikistan reflect on the challenges of working in media, trying to be a watchdog on the government:
Informing Afghans About Elections
Two young women reporters, Wahida Faizi and Sofia Mohammadzai, along with several other reporters at Salam Watandar, received awards from the Independent Elections Commission for their outstanding elections coverage:
Impact - Moldova
In rural Izbiște, Moldova, head librarian Alexandru Rusu saw an opportunity to teach elders how to combat misinformation and propaganda while they waited in the local post office for their pension checks. With the post office door as a projection screen, Alexandru started media literacy classes, one of 16 librarians around the country participating in Internews’ MEDIA-M project.
"With the help librarians, who have the trust of people in their communities, we have encouraged citizens to analyze everything they see, hear or read; dissect the information that seems strange to them, and document it from the sources at their disposal.” — Oxana Iutes, Deputy Chief of Party with Internews in Moldova
Read more: Media Literacy Can Be Learned at Any Age
Strengthening local independent media to support citizen voice is at the core of Internews' work. For more than 35 years and in more than 100 countries, Internews has strengthened the capacity of thousands of media professionals, human rights activists, and information entrepreneurs. These partners have reached millions of people with quality, local information, improving lives and building lasting change.