MEDIA & INFORMATION LITERACY: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION
In the Digital Age we find ourselves in, the media are in upheaval. Tremendous changes in the way information is packaged, received, retrieved and shared have sparked fascination, confusion and peril-especially when it comes to news, which is so essential in democracies (Clay Shirky, 2010).
In this media turmoil which threatens our ability to oversee the people who act on our behalf, digital citizens of today’s world need a media environment that serves us both as individuals and as a society; and acquire media and information literacy skills to enable us not just keep politicians in check but also to balance the power of the many other people and institutions we rely on, e.g. the police, doctors, technocrats, researchers, bankers, e.t.c., and all other people who make decisions that affect us without requiring or allowing our direct input. (ibid)
Defining Media & Information Literacy
Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is used as a composite concept to refer to a set of competencies that empowers citizens to access, retrieve, understand, evaluate and use, create, as well as share information and media content in all formats, using various tools, in a critical, ethical and effective way, in order to participate and engage in personal, professional and societal activities.
Media literate citizens can:
a) access, find, evaluate, use the information they need in ethical and effective ways;
b) understand the role and functions of media and other information providers such as libraries, museums and archives, including those on the Internet, in democratic societies and in the lives of individuals;
c) understand the conditions under which media and information providers can best fulfil their roles and functions;
d) critically evaluate information and media content from a variety of sources;
e) engage with media and information providers for self-expression, life-long learning, democratic participation, and good governance; and
f) enhance the skills (including ICT skills) needed to produce content in a variety of media formats .
Media and Information Literacy (MIL) therefore brings together Information Literacy and Media Literacy, along with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Digital Literacy, as a new literacy construct that helps empower people, communities and nations to participate in and contribute to global knowledge societies.