Last week, Hybrid CoE brought together ten journalists and strategic communication experts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Kosovo to Brussels for a two-day training course, “Countering Hostile Information and Disinformation”. The course was organised in cooperation with and funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and NATO.
The aim of the course was to increase understanding of malign influence and misconceptions in the region, so as to provide guidance and direction on how to communicate to the Western Balkans’ populations and protect public discourse.
Participants explored an in-depth conceptualisation of disinformation and ways to detect it. Special characteristics and vulnerabilities of the media system in the region were lively discussed. The course provided understanding also on general vulnerabilities of opinion formation, and how to take people’s cognitive biases into account in communications.
The course offered practical tools to respond to disinformation with the help of data verification and proactive strategic communication. Especially the open source intelligence tools received an enthusiastic welcome from the participants. The feedback was overall very positive, and many attendees believed they will benefit from the course in their daily work.