ASEAN- USAID PARTNERSHIP FOR REGIONAL OPTIMIZATION WITHIN THE POLITICAL-SECURITY AND SOCIO-CULTURAL COMMUNITIES (PROSPECT)
SCOPE OF WORK
Media Specialist – Development of ASEAN Guidelines on Media and Information Literacy and Training-of-Trainers (ToT) Programme to Address Fake News and Misinformation in ASEAN
Social media enables information to be created and exchanged at an unprecedented scale and speed. Widely accessible to anyone who owns a smartphone or computer, social media allows citizens to absorb a tremendous amount of information as well as allowing anyone to become a reporter of information, producing news—verified or not—that is shared globally to anyone on that particular social media platform. While there are undisputed benefits to the proliferation of information—most notably improved connectivity with family and friends and better access to useful information—the ease and accessibility of false or misleading information has also changed the way we live and view the world. Statistics show that there are 2.07 billion and 330 million active Facebook and Twitter users per month respectively worldwide. Every minute, 300 hours’ worth of content is uploaded to YouTube. This new infrastructure, the information superhighway, has also shifted news consumption to online and social media platforms. According to a Pew Research Center study, 62 percent of adults in the United States receive their news on social media. As Internet penetration increases across ASEAN, it may be expected that there will be a similar shift in media consumption patterns across Member States.
This new media environment poses new challenges to governments as well as the wider community. A key challenge is the use of social media to willingly promulgate disinformation or pass along unverified reports and/or news stories. As social media platforms seek to command the attention of users for monetary benefit, they are complicit in the transmission of unverified information, inadvertently or not. There is ample evidence in countries ranging from the United States, to Kenya, to India where information has been distorted to create stories with the intention of provoking violence or sowing hate, fear, distrust, and discord among certain segments of the citizenry. ASEAN is not immune to this phenomenon.
Not surprising, social media has become a vital vehicle through which extremist groups promote their narratives and recruit cadres. However, despite the urgency of this rising threat, governments and educational systems have been slow to act. Not enough is being done to help consumers of media develop the skills they need, not only to stay safe, but also to be more well-informed citizens. One critical means of addressing “fake news” and disinformation is to educate citizens to be more media savvy and more discerning consumers of the information they are taking in, including where it is coming from, its veracity, and its biases. By improving citizens’ “media literacy” they will be more apt to understand the information they are absorbing and less likely to forward any false or inaccurate information and messages they are receiving through social media. Through education, citizens will be better able to navigate propaganda and biases, including from extremist groups, not to mention helping create better informed citizens more aware of what is going on in their communities and countries.
In late 2017 in Medan, Indonesia, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) held a “High-level Dialogue on Managing Freedom of Expression in the Information Age” supported by ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT’s predecessor project, ASEAN-US PROGRESS. During this event, members of the current PROSPECT team learned about UNESCO’s Handbook for Journalism Education and Training entitled: Journalism, “Fake News” & Disinformation, which had recently been finalized. The seven training modules within the UNESCO Handbook provide a comprehensive training program for journalists, which PROGRESS staff felt could be readily adapted to suit the ASEAN context. After discussions with UNESCO as PROGRESS was winding down and PROSPECT was ramping up, PROSPECT began to envisage a means of adapting the UNESCO Handbook and quickly recognized the need to explore the socio-political nuances of the topic to ensure any training program adequately reflects ASEAN culture and sensibilities, and in order to do this, any ASEAN training program would necessarily require early and continuous consultation with relevant ASEAN officials. Fortunately, the basic ideas in the UNESCO Handbook are already reflected in ASEAN’s latest thinking on the topic of “fake news” and disinformation.
During the 31st ASEAN Summit in November 2017, ASEAN Leaders pronounced the importance of combating “fake news” across Member States and at the 14th Conference of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) held in early 2018, ASEAN officials endorsed the “Framework and Joint Declaration to Minimize the Harmful Effects of Fake News.” The Framework places education and awareness as the “first line of defense” and notes the importance of media literacy and public awareness to creating “a discerning and well-informed public that is able to detect fake news when it is presented to them.”
In addition to adopting the Framework in early 2018, the ASEAN Leaders also endorsed the ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society. In the Declaration, the Leaders agreed to the following:
Promote a culture of prevention for a peaceful, inclusive, resilient, healthy and harmonious society by focusing on:
1. Understanding the root causes and consequences of violent extremism and other forms of violence and deviant behaviours at individual, organisational and institutional levels through risk assessment, research, forecast, early warning and other evidence-based methods;
2. Adopting a mind-set change from a reactive to a preventive approach;
3. Inculcating shared values such as peace, harmony, intercultural understanding, the rule of law, good governance, respect, trust, tolerance, inclusiveness, moderation, social responsibility, and diversity;
4. Developing effective upstream preventive policies and initiatives such as transformative social protection, public information, responsible use of media, as well as strengthening the existing values-based education in schools and institutions
In the Declaration, the Leaders also agreed to support six thrusts of culture of prevention in conformity with the principles of ASEAN Charter, which includes “Promoting a culture supporting the values of moderation” and focuses on promoting literacy at all levels to prevent deliberate falsehoods and potential radicalization (thrust vi.). SOMED and SOMRI are co-leads for thrust vi.
During the 31st ASEAN Summit, the Leaders also pronounced the importance of combating “fake news” across Member States, to which and at the 14th Conference of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) held in early 2018, ASEAN officials adopted the “Framework and Joint Declaration to Minimize the Harmful Effects of Fake News.” The Framework places education and awareness as the “first line of defense” and notes the importance of media literacy and public awareness to creating “a discerning and well-informed public that is able to detect fake news when it is presented to them.”
To further strengthen media resiliency and educate the public to become digitally responsible citizens, 14th AMRI also endorsed the “Core Values on Digital Literacy for ASEAN” which promotes responsibility, empathy, authenticity, discernment, and integrity. The Core Values seek to ensure that engagements via the online space can be conducted safely and responsibly by guiding users to evaluate, use, create and share content effectively.
Relying on the proactive approach of the Declaration on the Culture of Prevention, particularly reference to point iv. and thrust vi. above and building upon ASEAN’s commitment to providing awareness raising and media literacy education as a means of countering “fake news” under the AMRI’s Framework and relying on the proactive approach of the Declaration on the Culture of Prevention, particularly reference to point 4 above, PROSPECT will support ASEAN to develop a comprehensive Training of-Trainers (TOT) program to address the scourge of “fake news” and disinformation throughout the region. The TOT program will also contribute to the recently adopted Bali Work Plan to Prevent and Counter Radicalisation and Violent Extremism, particularly on the following priority areas:
1.3. to raise media awareness and encourage support in the public campaign against radicalization and violent extremism violent extremism;
1.6. to increase educative talks conducted by influential religious leaders through social media for peace culture;
1.8. to build social media resilience amongst vulnerable groups, particularly the youth and women, on preventing the misuse of social media for violent extremism, including activities related to awareness raising among personalities/influencers from other forms of media since they also play an important role in countering violent extremism; and
1.9. to conduct research on the misuse of the internet and social media by violent extremists to encourage public private partnership with the business community and technology sector in promoting moderation and enhancing dialogue to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism.
PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES
With a view to alleviate the scourge of fake news, disinformation and misinformation, develop ASEAN Guidelines on Media and Information Literacy and Training-of-Trainers (ToT) Programme to address fake news, misinformation and disinformation that can be included in the curriculum of secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
TASKS AND OUTPUTS
The Media Specialist will be tasked to support SOMED in preparing all necessary inputs for the development of an ASEAN Guidelines on Media and Information Literacy and ToT Programme to address fake news, misinformation and disinformation. Specifically, the Media Specialist will be tasked with the following:
- Develop and craft substantive concepts for the draft ASEAN Guidelines on Media Literacy and Information to address Fake News, Misinformation and Disinformation, with specific reference to Article 23 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) stipulates the right of individuals to form, hold and express their opinions without undue interference and in consultation with UNESCO experts on media and information literacy.
- In consultation with UNESCO experts on media and information literacy, develop and draft a ToT Programme on Media and Information Literacy to address fake news, misinformation and disinformation that will focus on methodologies that can be used by teachers and lecturers at the secondary and tertiary institutions in promoting media literacy and information to their students and in teaching their students how to detect fake news and disinformation and in promoting media literacy.
- Support SOMED in developing strategies on instituting the ASEAN Guidelines and implementing the ToT Programme within formal secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
- Prepare draft agenda/programme of activities and presentation material in supporting and facilitating a consultative multi-stakeholder workshop, which will bring together relevant ASEAN officials from different sectoral bodies and other stakeholders to discuss and refine the draft ASEAN Guidelines and draft ToT Programme.
- Finalize the ASEAN Guidelines and ToT Programme for presentation to SOMED and its endorsement.
- Facilitate a seminar or similar activities aimed at launching and disseminating the finalized ASEAN Guidelines and ToT Programme.
DELIVERABLES, DUE DATES, LEVEL OF EFFORT (LOE)
Expected deliverables include the following:
- Draft ASEAN Guidelines on Media and Information Literacy (this can become part of the introductory chapter of the ToT Programme for addressing fake news, misinformation and disinformation
- Draft ASEAN ToT Programme for addressing fake news, misinformation and disinformation
- Prepare Agenda/Programme of Activities and presentation material for first SOMED-led multi-stakeholder consultation on the draft ASEAN Guidelines as well as draft ToT Programme
- Present draft ASEAN Guidelines and ToT Programme and facilitate discussion at the SOMED-led stake-holders consultation
- Revise draft ASEAN Guidelines and ToT Programme incorporating inputs and comments made at the SOMED multi-stakeholder consultation meeting
- Prepare Agenda/Programme of Activities and present second draft ASEAN Guidelines as well as draft ToT Programme material at the second SOMED-led multi-stakeholder consultation meeting with a view to finalize them
- Finalize the ASEAN Guidelines and ToT Programme, incorporating final inputs and comment made at the second consultation meeting
The Media Specialist is responsible for timely submission of all deliverables. She/he will be paid upon satisfactory completion of work and deliverables outlined above, upon submission of timesheets for days worked and approved PROSPECT’s Program Manager.
PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE AND AUTHORIZED WORK WEEK
Period of performance for this assignment is October 14, 2020 through May 7, 2021 with up to 36 days of LOE (see above table). The authorized work week for this consultancy is six (6) days. The Media Specialist may not record more than six (6) consecutive work days and work billed on weekends and travel days will also draw from—and shall not be in excess of—the total approved individual LOE for this assignment.
- Graduate degree in Journalism, Mass Communications, Education, and/or relevant discipline
- Minimum of 7 years of experience working on issues of freedom of information, freedom of expression, countering false narratives in social media, and other related experience
- English fluency in both writing and speaking
- Proven experience working on issues pertaining to regional cooperation and development, ideally with a strong understanding of and experience working with ASEAN
- Must be a self-starter and a highly motivated individual possessing proven strategic thinking skills and knowledge of results-based planning and programming through participatory approaches and methodologies
- Proven ability to produce high quality academic work and a proven ability to conduct research and analyse data and information
- Ability to lead and facilitate meetings with multi-stakeholders, including senior government officials
- Possess strong interpersonal skills and team-orientation
- Ability to manage work under tight deadlines