Skopje, 29 October 2022 (MIA) – The ability to access, understand, analyze and critically evaluate different media and media content, as well as create communication content in different contexts, is the basis of media literacy. It is necessary for smooth functioning in all spheres of society, especially in the digital world and the “new reality” of social media.
Those well-informed say that media literacy should be represented at all levels of formal education, that special care should be taken and systemic solutions offered in order to create well-informed and media literate citizens.
Media literacy is important as it contributes to developing and applying critical thinking skills, understanding how media messages affect society and shape up our culture, and to recognizing disinformation and preserving the rights of the citizens.
Media Literacy Is for All Age Groups
Emilia Petreska Kamenjarova of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services says that media literacy is very important for us to be able to function in our, as he puts it, “long-since media-mediated reality.” In her view, we must use multiple sources of information, always strive to check them, pay attention to the source which we extract the data from and whether the author has been indicated.
“Apart from implying critical development and critical awareness, media literacy also means developing ethics and respect for values that will allow us to assess whether a certain content is true or not, whether it needs to be expanded, or, if we expand it, we may cause damage. It also represents developing skills for creating media content that citizens will then put on some of the media available to all of us. There is a whole series of things that are an integral part of our lives and it is necessary to be media literate in order to be able to use them in the right way,” Kamenjarova told MIA.
Students Should Be Introduced to Media Literacy Since the Youngest Age
Vesna Nikodinoska of the Macedonian Media Institute says that media literacy is becoming a crucial skill and tool for these modern times, especially in the education of the young generations. According to her, it is necessary that younger generations be acquainted with media literacy from an early age because media are part of our everyday reality. She referred to the institutions as the key actors in this entire story, because, as she says, “without institutional support, we would not be able to include media literacy in formal education.”
“Currently, we are working together with the Ministry of Education and Science and the Bureau for Educational Development to revise the curricula and include media literacy content in various subjects and in different departments. We believe that, with this, we will equip young people with yet another skill, another tool, so they can more easily navigate within the new reality we all live in, in the digital world, and learn how to protect themselves and how to practically protect those who are close to them, and to be able to make the right decisions in their lives, regardless of whether it is everyday decisions such as the choice of food, or about how they will vote one day at an election,” she says.
The New Age Requires Different Skills to Deal with the Information Chaos
Aleksandra Temenugova from the Institute of Communication Studies informs that, by means of the “YouThink” project funded by USAID in North Macedonia and the IREX programme from Washington, four universities have become the pioneers who got the opportunity to adapt their existing curricula by including media literacy content. These are the Faculty of Philology in Skopje, the FON University, the Faculty of Pedagogy and the Stoel University. Owing to this same project, media literacy has also become part of certain classes in primary education.
“All these universities and all these higher-education institutions will make certain changes and modernize their teaching content so that the future students can learn about something that is inevitable today,” says Temenugova.
Media Literacy Requires Systemic Commitment
According to Filip Stojanovski of the Metamorphosis Foundation, media literacy is a broader context of understanding and promoting human rights, because, as he says, “media literacy is part of the right to freedom of expression, and the right to receive and provide information.” He points out that each of us have a huge responsibility when using new technologies, whether as creators or transmitters of media content, but also as consumers, and stresses that it is necessary to constantly upgrade the media literacy skills, which have critical opinion at their core.
“If perceived from this angle, then it becomes clear why, this year, the Media Literacy Days are dedicated to diversity, because in many media situations we have the appearance of discrimination, hate speech, and I don’t mean only in the traditional or online, professional, media, but also in a situation where citizens play the role of media, because with the social networks and the other digital tools, citizens themselves become direct participants, producers and disseminators of media content,” says Stojanovski.
AAAVMS recommends that in order to evaluate certain media content, it is necessary to think about what premises are taken as the starting point, that is, what is being presented as a fact? Is the connection of the claims logical and is there another logical explanation? What words are being used and why those exactly? Are the sources used relevant and what other arguments and sources can or should be taken into account? Finally, what is your experience, knowledge, values on the issue and what do your family, friends and other people think?
It is said that, if literacy used to mean that someone knew how to read and write, today people are considered literate if they know how to use the media and are able to critically read and understand media content published on television, radio, in the newspapers, magazines, in film, music, books, billboards, the Internet…
For this purpose, Media Literacy Days were held in our country in the period from October 25 to November 1, under the motto “Think Critically, Gather the Whole Story”, raising several aspects of diversity in the media. With this multimedia product, the Media Information Agency, as part of the Media Literacy Network, is joining in UNESCO’s Global Week of Media and Information Literacy, under the motto “Nurturing Trust: A Media and Information Literacy Imperative”.