José Manuel Pérez Tornero, appointed head of UNESCO’s MILID programme | Gabinete de Comunicación y Educación (UAB)

May 18, 2024

José Manuel Pérez Tornero, professor of journalism at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and former president of RTVE, has been appointed at UNESCO as head of the Cooperation Programme on Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue (MILID). The appointment is the decision of Shobi Tawil, director of the Future and Learning Innovation programme within the United Nations agency.

Over the next few years, Pérez Tornero will be responsible for coordinating and energising the work aimed at meeting UNESCO’s objectives in this area and within the medium-term strategy (2029), especially through the contributions of the research groups and universities with which UNESCO maintains relations around the world.

These objectives include the defence and promotion of freedom of expression and the right to information; the search for inclusion in the processes of digital transformation through equity in the acquisition of skills; the development of ethical standards, standards of conduct and self-regulatory codes for public media and social networks; and the fight against disinformation and fake news that jeopardise human rights and democracy.

Special emphasis will be placed on artificial intelligence and its new applications in various fields.

The main task of the different teams coordinated by Dr. Pérez Tornero will be: the promotion of public policies for media and digital literacy; the socio-cultural, ethical and political challenge represented by the emergence of deep artificial intelligence; and quality journalism. All of this, within the framework of intercultural understanding and always with the goal of achieving peace.

UNESCO will approve the research agenda on these topics during the Global MIL Week to be held in October 2023 in Amman, Jordan. And the launch of the main developments will be presented in March 2024 in Alexandria, Egypt, on the occasion of the conference on the theme of Global Understanding.

In leading the MILID programme, Dr Pérez Tornero will have three focal points: UNESCO Paris; Lagos (Nigeria) and Sao Paulo (Brazil). There, he will be supported by specialists Dr. Alton Grizzle, Dr. Suraj Ojnufilesi and Dr. Esther Hamburger.

Dr. Pérez Tornero, who currently directs the UNESCO Chair at the UAB, has been working with the United Nations agency on audiovisual public service and media literacy for more than 30 years.

He has carried out missions in countries such as Thailand, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey, Qatar, Morocco, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, India, among others. He has also been part of the EU expert group on media literacy. He has led European initiatives and research aimed at guiding European legislation on media literacy and promoting digital and media literacy in different countries.  Recently, he has been particularly active on issues related to artificial intelligence and disinformation. In these fields, he has worked intensively in relation to countries such as Portugal, Italy, Baltic countries, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, etc.

In his media responsibilities, Dr. Pérez Tornero has been president of RTVE (a position for which he was elected by more than two thirds of the parliament). In that role, he made progress in the consolidation of the workforce, technological innovation, internationalisation and cultural production. He has also been a board member of the EBU, and president of COPEAM (Rome), board member of the Association of Cultural and Educational Televisions of Ibero-America (Mexico), and vice-president of the Association of Discovery Televisions (Paris).

Dr. Pérez Tornero’s lines of research have evolved from semiotics and discourse criticism, political economy and communication and education, to artificial intelligence, audiovisual public space and media literacy.  On all these topics he has published more than 100 scientific articles in several languages.

He is the author of more than thirty books, including: La gran mediatización, Media literacy and new Humanism, Tribus urbanas, La televisión educativa, Comunicación y educación en la sociedad de la información, La seducción de la opulencia, among others, etc.

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