Reading up on media literacy with regard to some forthcoming projects, but also following on from some
As explained in our statement, there is no single agreed definition of media literacy.
We have defined media literacy as: ‘the ability to access, understand and create communications in a variety of contexts’.
Our focus is on electronic media, although we recognise that other stakeholders will be interested in the wider media landscape.
Media literacy has parallels with traditional literacy; the ability to read and write text. Media literacy is the ability to ‘read’ and ‘write’ audiovisual information rather than text. At its simplest level media literacy is the ability to use a range of media and be able to understand the information received.
At a more advanced level it moves from recognising and comprehending information to the higher order critical thinking skills such as questioning, analysing and evaluating that information. This aspect of media literacy is sometimes referred to as ‘critical viewing’ or ‘critical analysis’.
A media literate person should be able to, for instance, use an electronic programme guide to find the programme they want to watch. They may agree or not with the views of the programme maker, or just enjoy the programme. They may also recognise that the programme maker is trying to influence them in some way. They may interact with the programme using interactive features or by telephone. And they may respond to the programme by writing to or emailing the broadcaster with their point of view. People may also be able to use communications technology to create their own video and audio content.
Media literate people should be able to use the internet to find information and accept that sometimes what they find may represent a particular view rather than a statement of objective fact. They will be able to control what they and their children see to avoid being offended. They may also be confident enough to be able to order and pay for goods and services online and to create their own website and contribute to a chatroom discussion.