Back New report! Media literacy and the empowerment of users

The European Audiovisual Observatory publishes a new in-depth analysis of measures to help today's media users sort the real from the fake in a world of information overload
New report! Media literacy and the empowerment of users

Download "Media literacy and the empowerment of users" here


How can Europe equip its citizens with the skills needed to safely surf the information tsunami?

Media literacy initiatives aimed at all age ranges have never been more important.  And with every new tech development carrying the risk of fake news, deep fakes, not to mention tidal waves of AI generated text and images, we're going to need some help in sorting the real from the fictitious. So what are we doing in Europe to get on the learning curve?

The European Audiovisual Observatory announces the release of its latest report: "Media Literacy and the Empowerment of Users," authored by Amélie Lacourt. This timely publication delves into the critical role media literacy plays in today's digital age, offering insights into current strategies in place to enhance users' abilities to navigate the complex media landscape.

Chapter one sets the stage by discussing the broad nature of media literacy. It highlights the shift from traditional media to a more complex digital environment and explores the impact of media on democracy and freedom of expression. It also underlines the need for media literacy to ensure safe and informed content engagement.

Chapter two outlines the various approaches to media literacy at supranational level, in particular those undertaken by the EU. The author examines how various organisations, including the OSCE, Council of Europe, UNESCO, and EPRA have tackled media literacy. In particular, it outlines collaborative efforts at supranational level to develop guidelines, recommendations, and frameworks that facilitate cooperation and best practices in media literacy.

Chapter three zooms in on national perspectives. This chapter details how several different EU member states and other wider European countries have integrated media literacy into their legal frameworks. It provides examples of national strategies aimed at equipping users with the necessary skills to navigate the media landscape and highlights specific initiatives in countries such as Finland and Ireland, for example. The author rounds off with a walkthrough of funding mechanisms for media literacy needs and the various ways in which media literacy actions can be promoted, for example through national regulatory authorities, dedicated media literacy bodies, VSPs, and wider forms of cooperation. 

Chapter four discusses the importance of evaluating media literacy initiatives. The author emphasises the growing need for systematic assessment to determine the effectiveness of various programmes and strategies. The chapter also explores the methodologies used to evaluate media literacy efforts and their impact on different target groups.

Chapter five asks how we can empower the most vulnerable media users with the necessary critical thinking skills. It focuses on actions tailored to the needs of various demographics, including minors, adults, and the elderly. What measures are currently being built into formal and non-formal education? The chapter also addresses the emerging challenge of educating educators so that they, too, can keep up with the dizzying speed of tech developments and train the most vulnerable to use them with discernment. The author rounds off the chapter by exploring the concept of "media literacy by design." This recent initiative involves media services actually incorporating information prompts such as labels, overlays, pop-ups and notifications into their user platforms.

AI continues to advance, and so chapter six investigates the new critical skills required to understand and manage AI's impact on media as well as the role of algorithms in everyday life. It explores the challenges posed by AI, such as deep fakes and algorithmic bias, and emphasises the need for critical thinking and ethical considerations in AI use. What can we do to teach users how to engage with and not be passive subjects of algorithmic systems?

In conclusion the author reaffirms the vital role of empowering users through media literacy initiatives. The report underlines the need for continued efforts to enhance media literacy across all age groups and societal sectors, ensuring a well-informed and resilient citizenry capable of engaging in democratic processes, equipped with the critical faculties necessary to do so.

Essential reading for policymakers, educators, and media professionals committed to fostering a media-literate society. 

Strasbourg 13 June 2024
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