In recent years, Media & Information Literacy (MIL) has been increasingly recognized as a critical element in good governance and accountability. This is partly due to the rapid growth in technologies, which has contributed to a changing media landscape and new forms of citizen engagement. To thrive in this environment, citizens need the critical abilities and communicative skills to effectively access, analyze, and evaluate information. These skills will help citizens make informed decisions and form opinions that can impact their daily lives and the communities they live in, as well as minimize risks associated with the very same technologies, such as security, safety, and privacy. With its empowering effect, MIL can foster a citizenry capable and aspired to demand better services, hold leaders accountable and engage as active stakeholders in governance reform. Yet, MIL has struggled to gain the momentum needed to become part of the development agenda. However, this might be about to change.
The internet has certainly changed the process of how information and news is filtered and by whom. A process that was carried out by traditional media for decades is today largely managed by a few internet companies through algorithms. In this new role, they are not only filtering information but also helping us navigate a widely scattered information landscape through their products and services. In a new report by the Center of International Media Assistance, Bill Ristow discusses the role of these new information gatekeepers and the implications they face in protecting policies and practices across borders, such as openness of information and freedom of expression. Setting universally accepted norms on what is good behavior on the internet and what is not, is a major challenge. The question is who should be making these kinds of decisions? How are the new information gatekeepers held accountable?
A reader's response to the blog post 12 Recommendations for Building Media and Information Literate Knowledge Societies.
"I read your post with much interest. UNESCO promotes Media and Information Literacy(MIL) as a composite concept, a combined set of interrelated competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes) necessary for the media and
technology mediated world of today.
I encourage you and other readers to visit this link to see UNESCO's official description of MIL,
MIL empowers citizens with competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes) related to media, information, ICT and other aspects of literacy which are needed for 21st century. These competencies include the ability to: find, evaluate, use the information they need in ethical and effective ways, understand the role and functions of media and other information providers such as libraries, Internet, museums and archives, in democratic societies; understand the conditions under which media and information providers can fulfil their functions; critically evaluate information and media content; engage with media and information providers for self-expression, life-long learning, and democratic participation; and updated skills (including ICTs skills)needed to produce content, including user-generated.
Last week, the international literacy day was celebrated around the world. The theme this year, Literacy and Peace, was based on the premise that “literacy contributes to peace as it brings people closer to attaining individual freedoms and better understanding the world, as well as preventing or resolving conflict.” Today, basic reading and writing skills are not sufficient to effectively succeed in a knowledge-based society. The fast speed and wide spread of information have generated an array of new literacies. The following literacies are referred to as crucial to surviving in the 21st century: basic literacy skills, computer literacy, media literacy, distance education and e-learning, cultural literacy, and information literacy.
For those of us who care about the media and its role in society and politics, the recent events surrounding News Corp in the UK have provided plenty of fodder for conversation. While there are many ways to analyze the situation, one aspect which has proved interesting to follow from a CommGAP perspective is the debate over how competing media outlets (or even the ones owned by News Corp) are and should be covering the story. This Washington Post article unpacks some of the ownership ties and potential (or perceived) conflicts of interest behind the coverage, noting that corporate affiliations have raised suspicions about the independence and objectivity of coverage.
This month, thousands of events are taking place around the world to celebrate women and their economic, political and social accomplishments. Also, this year is extra special since it marks the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day. In 1911, more than a million people took to the streets in several countries to campaign for women’s rights, including the right to vote. Today, the International Women’s Day, March 8, is an official holiday in many countries, and the celebration extends throughout the month in many places. Just a few years ago, for example, the U.S. declared the month of March Women’s History month.
“We're in an age of information overload, and too much of what we watch, hear and read is mistaken, deceitful or even dangerous. Yet you and I can take control and make media serve us --all of us--by being active consumers and participants.”
This statement appears on the cover of Dan Gillmor’s newly launched publication, Mediactive. In the book, Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, provides tips and tools for how citizens can (and need to) become active consumers and producers of information.
A new report out from the Knight Commission on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy makes the case for emphasis on media literacy in the digital age. Entitled Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, the report by Renee Hobbs focuses on media literacy in the U.S., but some of its points struck me as potentially applicable in other parts of the world as well. Hobbs isolates several digital and media literacy skills that are necessary to take part in civic life in an information-saturated society (all of these are taken directly from her report):
Quick: can you list all the freedoms guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment?
If not, you're not alone. Apparently sparked by the fact that only one in twenty-five Americans can name all five freedoms listed in the First Amendment, the 1ForAll initiative aims to build support and awareness of the First Amendment among American youth. Its website notes that it intends to provide educational materials for teachers, hold events and engage the public through a variety of media.
"For if we choose only to expose ourselves to opinions and viewpoints that are in line with our own, studies suggest that we become more polarized, more set in our ways. That will only reinforce and even deepen the political divides in this country.