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News > Alumni News > Alumni Perspectives Shine at 1st International Media Literacy Festival

Alumni Perspectives Shine at 1st International Media Literacy Festival

Experts from the Fields of Journalism and Entertainment Offered Important Insights on Topics Shifting the Media Landscape
Alumni Tom Hiotis, Elinda Labropoulou, George Makris and Mark Wolper joined us from near and far!
Alumni Tom Hiotis, Elinda Labropoulou, George Makris and Mark Wolper joined us from near and far!

In the era of digital news, artificial intelligence, and fake news, the ability to decipher, and analyze media content is more crucial than ever. Recognizing this need, ACS Athens proudly hosted the 1st International Media Literacy Festival 2024 from March 26th to 28th. The festival brought together experts, including alumni, from around the world to delve into critical topics across three dynamic panels: Media Literacy and the News, Media Literacy and Women’s Empowerment, and Media Literacy and Entertainment.

Alumni panelists offered invaluable insights into the evolving media landscape, emphasizing the importance of critical thinking, creativity, and conscious citizenship.

The Evolving Media Landscape

The role of the evolving news media landscape kicked off the festival. Elinda Labropoulou, a senior journalist and ACS Athens alumna reflected on the foundational role of education in shaping media professionals. "My first courses in journalism were actually taken at ACS," she remarked. "Being back here just brings back a lot of memories and makes it a very emotional place for me." 

After building a career with major global networks, Elinda shared insights that underscored the importance of critical thinking and analytical skills in navigating the complexities of news reporting and media consumption, at a time when faith in news institutions is at an all-time low.

Navigating Misinformation

On a related note, navigating misinformation emerged as a critical challenge in the media landscape. Mark Wolper, President & Executive Producer of The Wolper Organization, Warner Bros, and ACS Athens alumnus, emphasized the importance of discerning facts from fiction. "A core part of media literacy is recognizing facts from fiction," he noted. 

Mark’s insights underscored the need for media consumers to critically evaluate information and identify credible sources in an era of misinformation and disinformation.”

At the same time, Mark offered an important consideration about using the best tools, including entertainment, to communicate information to people. 

“You can try to give a hundred percent of the information to an audience,  like in a very serious, hardcore documentary,  and, because they weren't educated or they weren't entertained, they might only retain about 10 percent or 20 percent of the information. If you entertain them and only give them 60 percent of the information, you might get them to retain 50 percent of it.”

Engaging Young Audiences

For audiences that have grown up surrounded by an abundance of media options, entertainment is one key in the arsenal needed to engage young audiences.

Elinda highlighted the challenges of reaching younger generations, who often distrust traditional news sources and seek alternative platforms for information. "Youth audiences...get their news from less traditional sources," she observed. "To attract younger people, we need to be closer to the issues they're interested in." 

Her insights underscored the need for innovative storytelling methods, but to do so with utmost transparency, to effectively communicate with younger audiences and rebuild a generation’s trust in the virtue of journalism.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion

Engaging audiences of all ages starts with empowering them to see themselves in the shows and films they watch. 

George Makris, Networks Director at The Walt Disney Co. Greece and ACS Athens alumnus, emphasized the need to empower diverse voices and representations in media. "There is a big make sure that representation and inclusion actually exist," he remarked.  “I think it goes back to moving away from a more stereotypical approach to creating content and creating movies where you would only see certain values, or certain ideals represented.”

Instead he shared that there is something powerful and vital about empowering people who may not otherwise be “seen” that they “have a voice and there are people out there who are in a similar position.”

The Human Element in Media Production

As the festival concluded, the discussion pivoted to a different aspect of the human element in media production in light of A.I. Tom Hiotis, a producer and ACS Athens alumnus, highlighted the importance of maintaining the human touch in media production. "Making something easy for us doesn't make it better," he remarked. Despite advancements in technology like A.I., Tom's perspective emphasized the value of storytelling and creativity in engaging audiences and conveying meaningful messages.

From the evolving nature of news consumption to the challenges of navigating misinformation, the festival shed light on the importance of media literacy in today's digital age. 

The insights and expertise of ACS Athens alumni like Elinda, George, Mark, and Tom underscored the school's long-standing commitment to fostering critical thinking, creativity, and conscious citizenship.

As we continue to navigate the ever-changing media landscape, their contributions will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the field of media literacy.


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