A video competition between Namibia and Ghana is helping to spread bi-lateral media and information literacy awareness. Competition organizers say the contest has highlighted the common issues youth experience online.
Online bullying, concern over biased journalism and the ability to stay connected wherever, whenever — these were just some of the issues young Namibians raised when asked to respond to the statement: "My love or hate for the media and social media I use."
The inter-country "Show and Share" video contest challenges youth in Ghana and Namibia to respond to this statement in short video clips recorded with their smartphones. Winners will be selected for two categories: best message and most original entry.
The video competition aims to gauge whether an inter-country contest can contribute to the growing momentum of MIL awareness and learning among youth. It brings both global and local aspects of MIL to the surface and the inter-country nature of the contest allows young people to not only reflect on their own media use but to realize the universal aspects of media trends, challenges and developments.
The contest has been organized by two local media organisations, Media and Information Literacy Learning Initiative (MiLLi*) in Namibia and PenPlusBytes in Ghana, with support from DW Akademie.
'I know I've been an online bully'
The entries have covered a wide range of positive and negative aspects of the media and social media from both public and personal perspectives.
In one video, an entrant admits they have bullied others online: "I know I’ve been an online bully, and I so much regret it, because I now realize the damage I have caused to others."
Another focuses on one of the biggest positives of social media — being able to stay connected to family and friends wherever you are in the world if you have an internet connection.
"I love my online life, it’s everything to me. I can stay connected wherever I am and share what I feel is important for my friends to know," they said.
Other participants questioned whether what they read in newspapers was truly unbiased, and considered "if there is not more to the issues they report on."
The video contest draws from the fact that digital media platforms have undoubtedly enabled new forms of creative participation and media production, which has changed how youth activism operates and added new dimensions to how youth learn.
Mobile phones, cameras, editing platforms and distribution networks have become more easily accessible for young people across the world in recent years, and as this has happened, youth have gained opportunities to create, circulate, collaborate and connect with others. It’s now possible to address civic issues and matters of broad personal and public concern in ways that simply have not been available in the past.
Contest coordinators for MiLLi* in Namibia, Petrina Mathews and Opeyemi Toriola, said the contest had started discussions on sensitive topics
"It started conversation about the impact of media around us and opens up topics that we don’t always talk about like cyber-bulling, insecurities, fake-lives, omission of the truth etcetra," they said.
"What is also interesting is to see the similarities amongst the youth of both countries — similar issues, similar complaints, especially when it comes to social media," they added.
In the end it is a true example of bi-lateral engagement of youth voicing their concerns and observations, and realizing that we all deal with the same opportunities and pitfalls when it comes to media use.
The winners of the "Show and Share" video competition will be announced in a live-streamed award ceremony held simultaneously in both Namibia and Ghana on the last day of the Global MIL week, October 31.
Joost van de Port is a co-project manager at DW Akademie Africa.