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Driving Change Through Data and Transparency of Institutions on Social Media

June 28, 2024 | by: Sofija

In the final showcase track of the 12th POINT Conference, Roman Ivanković from Internews highlighted innovative approaches to harnessing data for social impact. Bojan Kordalov from the Institute for Good Governance and Euro Atlantic Perspectives complemented the panel with his insights on institutional communication in digital spaces. 

Photo: Vanja Čerimagić

Moderated by Dalio Sijah, the session provided deep insights into the intersection of data, AI, and governance, emphasizing the importance of transparency and ethical considerations in leveraging technology for societal benefit.

Roman Ivanković emphasized the fundamental interplay between narrative and data in his presentation on driving change through data. He defined narrative as the underlying story that binds human endeavors, including states, organizations, and families, together. Narratives shape how societies function, from moral values to political ideologies. However, Ivanković highlighted the critical role of data in grounding narratives in reality. Data, he argued, represents objective facts and serves as the building blocks of reality, akin to atoms in physics.

Ivanković cautioned that when narratives diverge from data, illusions emerge, creating a false perception of reality. This mismatch between narrative and data, he pointed out, is a common challenge in media and politics. Media, as storytellers, hold significant power in shaping public perception and holding narratives accountable to facts. Ivanković illustrated this with examples from post-Soviet states, where confronting the narrative with data led to societal shifts and adaptations.

He emphasized media’s responsibility not only to tell stories but also to challenge official narratives that do not align with facts, thereby dispelling illusions. Ivanković advocated for media to use data and evolve their narratives, citing examples where media organizations adjusted their editorial policies and business models based on data insights. Ultimately, he underscored that embracing data facilitates organizational adaptation and ensures narratives remain relevant and truthful in a rapidly changing world.

Bojan Kordalov, speaking on transparency of public institutions on social media, highlighted the evolution of social media from mere entertainment platforms to crucial tools for political transparency. He traced the beginning of this transformation to 2008, noting the pioneering use of social media by Barack Obama during his presidential campaign. Kordalov emphasized that public institutions and political parties must adapt to where the public engages, necessitating a strategic presence on social media platforms.

The Institute for Good Governance and Euro Atlantic Perspectives, which Kordalov co-founded, initiated efforts to analyze and promote the use of social media by parliament members in the Balkans. Initially, only a fraction of MPs had a presence on platforms like Facebook, often managed by their teams without full awareness. This initiative gained significant media attention and underscored the importance of transparency and accountability in political communication.

Kordalov outlined the risks associated with social media transparency, such as platforms being used primarily for self-promotion rather than meaningful engagement with citizens. Despite these challenges, he advocated for a structured approach where public institutions not only maintain a presence on social media but also actively engage with citizens and provide timely, accurate information.

Over the years, his organization expanded its focus to include multiple social media platforms, encouraging healthy competition among institutions to improve their transparency efforts. Kordalov stressed the importance of quality over quantity in social media engagement, aiming to foster genuine interaction and accountability between institutions and the public. His efforts also extended to educating young professionals in communication and media, thereby nurturing a new generation capable of promoting transparency and civic engagement through social media channels.

Author: Emir Velić