Balkan Voices 2, a project to strengthen information and media literacy in the Western Balkans

by Charlotte Morel, CFI, France.

The phenomenon of disinformation was already considered endemic throughout the Balkans, and has gained significant pace in recent years, largely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. But this situation is not irreversible. Canal France International (CFI) is convinced that media literacy can play a significant role in the fight against disinformation, and has accordingly been running a special project since June 2023 to support media expression among young people in the Balkans.

Fact-checking, the creation of independent, verified content, raising awareness of gender and environmental issues: CFI has ramped up the number of workshops to boost media literacy among future European journalists, via its Balkan Voices 2 project, designed to combat rampant disinformation in the Balkans, with the support of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. The French media development agency is raising the impact of its training courses by targeting several types of beneficiaries including secondary school pupils, journalism students, trainers, secondary school and local journalism schoolteachers and bloggers with a media literacy agenda. They all come from Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. This programme has been built on the experience and favourable outcome of its predecessor, Balkan Voices, which was wrapped up in May 2022 and was a great success, according to Miriam Neziri Angoni, who coordinated several initiatives catering to young journalists, influencers and film students: “The young influencers have seen their audience grow. Those who benefitted from mentoring have launched new initiatives. One young influencer from North Macedonia has developed her project on women and literature and another young Albanian woman has improved her Instagram activity helping women find work.” These tangible impacts and successes on the Balkan media landscape are now set to be repeated with the second phase of the project.

Since June 2023, new beneficiaries have been offered several opportunities to enhance their media knowledge: interactive training courses to analyse sources and gain insights into media bias, content production workshops to enable secondary school students to take part in a competition organised during the “Printemps de la Francophonie ”, summer universities and master classes for journalism students and professors from journalism schools on topics such as the environment, gender and the integration of Western Balkan countries into Europe, as well as updating and enhancing the content of the TALMIL online platform (Teach and Learn Media and Information Literacy), which serves as an educational resource for young people, providing verified information and encouraging responsible use of social media. Finally, beneficiaries also have the opportunity to learn about the values of the French-speaking world and the promotion of European openness through cultural exchanges and discussions on regional and European topics.

The project will be running through to June 2025.

Track project progress by following CFI on social media: LinkedIn, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube and Facebook. If you have any questions about the project, please contact Charlotte Morel: .