Media literacy for a better world
In June, 2010, Ivan Fedor’s main interest lay in performing arts. He’d been invited to the Vienna Festival in Austria, which attracts 180,000 visitors annually, and performed in the featured “Generation 91-95.” A student at the Center for Croatian Studies at the University of Zagreb (UZ) working toward a major in History together with Communication and Media Studies, Ivan was again invited to perform in Bremen, Germany a year later. In May, 2012, he began putting in twenty-five hours a month participating at Independent Theater Tirena in the production and performance a year later of a play, “Life with an Unknown Number of Mysteries.”
He became an active volunteer with Project 55+, offering computer workshops for the elderly and working with the independent theater organization Montazstroj, which aims to present projects that address “the burning problems of our reality through innovative…audio-visual arts.” Loosely translated, Montazstroj means montage machine. “55+” became a theater and video project attracting senior citizens to become “socially and politically active.” Ivan’s first performance took place in 2012 and then in three festivals in Serbia and Slovenia through September of 2013.
Ivan also began a three-year stint as a journalist for Glas Koncila, researching, writing, and editing articles for its printed and web editions while working for a year with the UZ Public Relations Office, specializing in the media and creating electronic databases. He earned recognition for his extra-curricular hours from UZ’s Center for Croatian Studies.
That fall, Ivan also became a member of the Management Board for the Association for Communication and Media Culture (DKMK), an activity that would lead him to reevaluate his priorities and which remains an important part of his life. He became increasingly interested in elementary and secondary school presentations and radio shows that informed students how “media shapes our idea of beauty; cyber bullying; truths and lies in the media,” and more. A powerful sense grew in him that the children of today realize the possibilities of media usage.
The following February, DKMK linked with the Office of the Ombudsman for Children and the Partners in Learning Association to conduct a session at the Croatian Parliament on media literacy for children, concerning “the ability of people to objectively, critically, and to professionally examine any information obtained from the media.” As a result of DKMK’s proposals, an amendment to the Education Strategy of Science and Technology was soon adopted and implemented, promoting vital instruction in media literacy for today’s youth.
Ivan is also a student television host at Television Student, through UZ’s Faculty of Political Science, hosting various shows such as Alter Ego and News for HRT 4. During the month of October of 2014, Ivan played the leading male role in the movie “Karma,” produced by STRES film, a student non-profit organization. Then in January, he began a yearlong job as a News presenter for the radio station Antena Zagreb, informing 50,000 people every day. “I really enjoy doing any type of media event,” Ivan says. “This is where I feel at home. Also, as a TV host, I appeared on a national television channel once a week. This is something I am very proud of.”
Concurrent with classes and media work, Ivan began his most important project so far. With an ultimate goal of achieving a higher level of media literacy in the whole world, Ivan says, “the media could finally become a powerful tool in the hands of organizations working for the welfare of the people.” A first step began in April, 2015 when DKMK launched “Children of the Media: the Family and the Challenges of the New Media,” funded by the Ministry of Science, Education, and Sports, and which has included sixteen schools to reach 1,000 youth up to fourteen years of age. “I realized the importance of being directly involved in forming children’s perspective on the media and its content,” he says, “and the strength, power, and influence on the creation of our attitudes, thoughts, identity, and the way we see the world.” Through UZ, Ivan received the Special Rector’s Award for this ongoing project.
With the media’s increasing bombardment of horrible images from the Middle East and of worldwide terrorist attacks, a new concern jolted Ivan. He saw that “fear had found its way into our everyday lives” and realized that the events were not occurring “somewhere far, far away. In today’s networked and connected society, such actions have direct consequences on me and my environment.” Almost half a million refugees had recently passed through Croatia, causing an ongoing humanitarian crisis while media reports were “unprofessional and unverified, intensifying the panic among citizens. With each new bloody terrorist attack, the wave of Islamophobia and contempt for refugees spreads across Europe.” Ivan grasped the amazing power of misinforming people through the media and how “many people now lack the possibility of critical thinking and absorb only the information presented to them,” creating a cycle of manipulation and eventual bloodshed.
Yet Ivan also believes in the media’s vast potential if used wisely and properly, “not only at local and national, but on a larger, international level, to create a more peaceful world.”
While continuing with his M.A., Ivan is working as a Junior Project Manager for VETTURELLI consulting.