A cross section of guests at the African Press Club Speaker Series in Barcelona, last week
Dateline: Gran Via, Barcelona, Spain.
One of the ways to fight stereotypes in society is to establish centers of critical thinking in institutions of learning.
This was the position of Dr. Laura Cervi, Professor of Political Communication at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain.
Cervi made her views known at the African Press Club Speaker Series, which held last week Thursday at Altair Bookshop in Barcelona, Spain. The topic of the day was “Exploring the Relationship Between Media and Politics” and the discussion was moderated by the Founder and President of the Club, Chiogor Constance Ikokwu.
According to Cervi, critical thinking arms students with the tools to ask the right questions at any given time. It also enables them to embark on independent research that possibly uncovers various viewpoints to a particular subject.
She noted that given the ability to think critically, students and society at large would dig deeper, and go beyond face value to un-earth new information that could alter perspectives.
Other panelists Desiree Bela-Lobedde and Agus Morales concurred. Bela-Lobedde who found her fame on social media through her Youtube channel also narrated her personal experience. She spoke about the political side of dealing with aesthetic activism as a black woman in Spain.
She went on to explain that her decision to launch her own social media channel was partly based on the lack of representation of minorities both in the media and political space in the country. The overwhelming response she received gave her the impetus to continue her activism, she quipped.
Morales spoke to the convergence of traditional and new media and his experience as a journalist in both spheres. In his response to the question on lack of minority representation in Spain, he emphasized that change is required on that front. He pointed out the Editors usually select potential topics for coverage in the media based on what they think their readers want. This, he stressed, is responsible for lopsided coverage.
The panel further discussed the constant flux happening in society due to the emergence of social media and where the actual power lies today. Cervi explained that it might be an illusion to think that power lies with the masses due to the ability to utilize various new media channels to express a variety of views. Giving an example with Facebook, she said algorithms affect the type of information a reader receives, which might in fact, create a tunnel vision rather than a broad minded individual.
She mentioned the existence of corporations that fund media organisations, thereby deciding to an extent, the content that is published. This in her view creates a nexus between politics and media given that the same big money is also used to sponsor politicians.
The conversation veered into media coverage of immigration; media coverage of Africa; the crisis in Catalonia in the past two weeks; regulation of new media; identifying the politics behind media and vice-versa, etc.
The event ended with a musical performance by Boris Talom, an artist originally from Cameroon.