The millennial generation is clearly conversant with the technical aspects of our information age but young people are among the most vulnerable to media misapplications. There is a tendency towards manipulation of data and information flow in the attention economy. Students need to acquire the knowledge and skills to distinguish between fact and fiction in our highly digitalized and mediatized world. Media literacy is becoming an essential component of education. It is not only of vital importance to develop critical thinking to recognize disinformation but also to harness the full potential of the media in a creative way.
What exactly is media literacy and how should it be taught most effectively? How can media literacy be used to nurture digital citizenship? How can young media consumers become creative innovators? In this selection of articles, specialists in this field bring their own insights and perspectives to the role of media literacy in the digital age.
Media Literacy’s Pivotal Role in a Disinformation Society
Ms Eva Van Passel
Media Programme Manager, Evens Foundation
Why is Media Education Critical in Today’s Attention Economy?
Mr. Paolo Celot
Secretary General, European Association for Viewers Interests (EAVI)
What is Media Literacy and How Should We Teach it?
Ms Tessa Jolls
President and CEO, Center for Media Literacy
Preparing African Youth for a Post-Truth World
Mr. Chido Onumah
Coordinator, African Centre for Media & Information Literacy
Diverse Discourse, Limited Action: Media Literacy in East Asia
Dr. Tzu-bin Lin
Associate professor, National Taiwan Normal University
Media Literacy: A Key to Digital Citizenship
Dr. Lesley Farmer
Professor, California State University Long Beach
Fake News: Is Media Literacy a Solution?
Associate professor, Emerson College
To this end, three core questions are guiding conversations about the role of media literacy as a response mechanism to an increasingly polarizing and partisan media ecosystem. I will respond to them here in the hopes of starting a dialogue focused on what we should prioritize for media literacy practices to be responsive, relevant and sustainable.
How should we prepare the next generation of responsible, media literate citizens?
Media literate citizens should envision themselves as agents of social change. Many times media literacy prioritizes skill attainment and individual responsibility over using media to reform, inspire and create conditions for more meaningful participation in the world. The next wave of media literate citizens will not only be savvy in their ability to critique and create media, but know how to leverage media technologies, designs and practices to build experiences where humans work together in support of a common good.
How do we better measure media literacy?
Part of the problem with media literacy’s ability to scale is that it’s difficult to measure. Current measures focus on skills, knowledge, and attitudes after a formal media literacy pedagogical experience. While these studies are valuable, they are only one side of the story. We need more evaluation, and documentation of media literacy practices that place people in communities, working to impact positive social change, and their use of media in this process. More evidence of such work, over time, can help reframe our point of measurement from skill attainment to impact in the real world.
Will digitization and new innovations help or hinder the fight against fake news?
Technology itself cannot help or hinder the current state of media and political expression. New media innovations often bring both new opportunities for connectivity and production alongside potential impacts to information norms and media flows. We should consider this not a fight against fake news, but rather, think about how the lack of regulation and oversight of our new large scale media companies enabled this environment, and in what ways we can correct against these harmful practices as we continue to produce new tools and technologies with even more potential for inclusive and vibrant communities.