When discussing the media and its role in democracy, it is often the experts who do the talking.
A new online project seeks to upend that, by asking Malta’s young thinkers to share their thoughts about the media - with an internship at a major UK media outlet on offer for the best entry.
Run by the Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning Foundation (3CL), the GenZ project is built for anyone born after 1995 with an interest in some of the big questions surrounding democracy and the media.
It seeks to solicit Generation Z opinions by asking questions such as: Do you still need mainstream media to become influential? Does online media help democracy? What does it mean to be free online? Should media platforms be regulated and are there dangers to freedom of speech by having such laws?
Participants can submit their views on these topics – and other related ones – in any digital form, from a written blog post to a YouTube video clip, cartoon or artwork, podcast or infographic. Submissions can be made on the GenZ website, www.genz.mt.
Entry is open to anyone born after 1995 who is a Maltese citizen or a resident in Malta. Applicants may submit multiple entries. Entries can be submitted until February 28, 2022, with the best entry earning the applicant a week-long internship at a major UK news outlet.
“We’re asking digital natives to think about their relationship with the media they use and the devices they carry and live with. These in turn track them everywhere, in physical and online places, and convert their interactions into data,” said Alex Grech, a lecturer at the Faculty for Media & Knowledge Sciences at the University of Malta and 3CL director.
“We’re used to technology being in a constant process of change to stimulate the needs of users; we’re not so used to thinking about how young people are changing to adapt. “As opposed to asking the opinions of experts, we’re asking young people to consider the critical skills they need to navigate their relationship with the interconnected social world - since these skills rarely form part of formal compulsory education curricula”.
The GenZ project is sponsored by The British High Commission in Malta and supported by Times of Malta and the University of Malta.
"People have access to more information than ever before. That's definitely a positive, but it comes with challenges that we as a society sometimes struggle to grapple with," said Times of Malta online editor Bertrand Borg.
"The GenZ project wants to fuel discussion around some of those tough questions. We're delighted to support the 3CL Foundation in its aims."
Workshop with BBC journalist
GenZ is also hosting a free workshop on media freedoms and media literacy led by award-winning BBC journalist and documentary film-maker Janette Ballard.
The two-hour workshop will be designed to get young people to explore and discuss the digital world and users’ relationship with it. Participants will be challenged to think deeply and laterally about the media, news media and social media and how all three connect and interact when experiencing the media.
The workshop is free to attend and not restricted to competition entrants. It will be held on January 15, 2022 at Valletta Design Cluster. Those interested in participating can secure a place by registering on the website.