Trust levels in media remain relatively high in Ireland compared to other countries, according to the 2022 Reuters Institute Digital News Report, with 52% of those surveyed trusting news overall. 83% of people get news online each week, and 51% via social media. Internet user skills in Ireland are significantly above the EU average, according to the 2022 European Commission DESI index.
Digital literacy has a strong presence in the national curriculum, whereas media literacy has a much lower status and is only present in some form in the English and Social, Personal and Health Education curricula. Other than that, schools have the choice to offer a short course on Digital Media Literacy to Junior Cycle students (12-15 years old), but currently there is no information on how many secondary students are benefiting from this course in the country. The 2022 Media Pluralism Monitor report found that there remains substantial scope for mainstreaming media literacy into Irish education curricula.
In recent years media regulator the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, which has a statutory duty to promote media literacy, has expanded its dedicated resources and with the creation of stakeholder network Media Literacy Ireland, the country’s media literacy landscape is developing. The 2016 European Audiovisual Observatory’s 2016 Media Literacy Mapping in EU-28 report found 33 media literacy stakeholders; Media Literacy Ireland now has 240 members.
For more on media literacy in Ireland, please see Media & Learning’s dedicated webinar.
EDMO hub membership
EDMO Ireland is coordinated by Dublin City University.
Key activities: Partnership with Media Literacy Ireland
EDMO Ireland has partnered up with the Media Literacy Ireland network to promote media literacy across the country. The plan is to design and develop a Media Literacy training programme for librarians, so that libraries will be more prepared to provide assistance and support to the public in matters related to media literacy, especially in relation to the disinformation crisis. The project will also involve a national broadcast campaign which will invite the public to go to their local libraries and receive training in media literacy.
EDMO Ireland will also be in charge of the resources/training section of the brand-new Media Literacy Ireland website. This section will serve as a kind of depository of media literacy resources for the general public, including articles, learning resources, and training programmes.
Ricardo Castellini da Silva – [email protected]
Who is responsible for media literacy at a national level?
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has a statutory obligation to undertake, encourage and foster research, measures and activities directed towards the promotion of media literacy, as established by the Broadcasting Act 2009.
The BAI established and funds the coordination of a Media Literacy Ireland (MLI) network, which is an informal alliance of stakeholders with a chair and 14-member steering group. Membership is free, but its 240 or so members are expected to participate and share experiences and resources. MLI organises conferences and webinars, and runs public awareness campaigns, as well as fostering collaboration and partnership among its members. A multistakeholder approach, including journalists, online platforms, academia, civil society, and public authorities was believed to be essential.
The BAI launched a media literacy policy in 2016 which aimed to empower Irish people with the skills and knowledge to make informed choices about the media content and services that they consume, create and disseminate. It was developed in coordination with key media literacy stakeholders beyond the regulator’s usual base, including educators.
It included five strategic policy objectives:
- To provide leadership and facilitate a coordinated approach to the promotion of media literacy in Ireland.
- To describe and promote media literacy among citizens, consumers and stakeholders, in a manner that is relevant and meaningful.
- To encourage a wide range of stakeholders to participate in the promotion of media literacy, in line with their specific business and strategic priorities.
- To foster media literacy research and the development of a comprehensive knowledge base.
- To develop a policy that is strategically aligned to other key learning frameworks and policies.
It outlined a media literacy framework with three core competences, each of which is accompanied by skill and success indicators:
- Understand and critically evaluate broadcast, digital and other media content and services, in order to make informed choices and best manage media use.
- Access and use broadcast and digital media content and services in a safe and secure manner, to maximise opportunities and minimise risks.
- Create and participate, via media, in a responsible, ethical and effective manner, in the creative, cultural and democratic aspects of society.
Promoting media literacy and enhancing the understanding, engagement and participation of the public is listed as a strategic objective in the BAI’s 2021-23 strategy statement.
The status of media literacy in the national school curriculum
Media literacy first featured in the national curriculum in the early 1990s and is represented in both the English curriculum and as a thematic element within social, personal and health education (SPHE), according to scholar Brian O’Neill.
As the Department of Education’s Digital Strategy for Schools to 2027 highlights, the Primary Language Curriculum developed in 2019 promotes digital (and critical) literacy as an important aspect of children’s learning in English and in Irish.
At the postprimary level, the Framework for Junior Cycle supports the incremental development of digital skills through the eight key skills, while subject specifications and short courses offer opportunities for learners to develop and apply a range of digital skills. Schools may also choose to offer students short courses in areas such as Coding and Digital Media Literacy at Level 3 and Enterprise in Animation at Level 2.
According to the European Commission’s Youth Wiki, most media literacy education within secondary school takes place at the lower secondary level/the junior cycle (aged 13-15), through the specifically designed, 100-hour optional course Digital Media Literacy; and within a compulsory core subject Civic, Social and Political Education.
According to the 2022 Media Pluralism Monitor report, there remains substantial scope for mainstreaming media literacy into Irish primary and secondary education curricula. The report highlighted that media literacy remains essentially optional at the Senior Cycle level (16-19 year-olds).
The EC’s Youth Wiki details these options: at upper secondary level, media literacy is addressed through the optional subject Politics and Society. The Leaving Certificate Applied, a state examination for vocational senior second level students, includes media literacy and digital safety within its module Communications and the Digital World. This is one of the four modules within the subject English and Communications.
The position of initiatives targeted at those not in formal education
The 2022 Media Pluralism Monitor notes that the work of the Media Literacy Ireland network has resulted in significant progress in tackling media literacy for those outside formal education. In particular, the 2020/21 MLI’s Be Media Smart campaign, run across TV, radio, print and social media as well as in libraries and schools with its ‘stop, think, check’ message brought the idea of critical media awareness to a wide audience.
Media literacy stakeholders
Media Literacy Ireland is a key player as described above, focusing on coordination, connection, communication and campaigning, as well as developing the Be Media Smart campaign.
The Irish Government runs a ‘Be Safe Online’ campaign which provides a wide range of online safety resources.
Webwise – the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre, promoting safer and better internet use among young people has various programmes including:
- CONNECTED: a digital media literacy short course for 14-16 year-olds which looks at online wellbeing, news media and problems of false information, big data and the data economy, young people’s rights online.
- HTML Heroes is specifically designed to help teach children aged 7 -10 about safe and responsible uses of the Internet as part of the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum. Introduces topics like privacy, wellbeing and screen time, and what is false information. It includes video animations, fun interactive puzzles and activities.
- All Aboard for DigiTown is designed to help older children aged 9 -12 become smart digital citizens by exploring 10 themes in the DigiTown activity book. Topics include consumer awareness, rights, wellbeing, media and information literacy, ethics and empathy, privacy etc.
Barnardos runs an Online Safety Programme that provides video lessons, workshops, work sheets and presentations to help teach children aged 8–12 about online safety and critical thinking.
CRAOL – the Community Radio Forum of Ireland – is the representative, coordinating, lobbying, training and support group for Irish Community Radio. The organization has been to the fore in promoting media literacy over the past years, organizing conferences, promoting discussion, supporting national campaigns and running training courses on media literacy.
CyberSafeKids aims to empower children, parents, schools and businesses to navigate the online world in a safer and more responsible way through educational programmes, research and advocacy.
The Irish Film Institute – The institute has long provided film education for both adults and young people. It delivers an extensive schools programme and film-based activities, developed around the concepts of film education, film as curricular support, film as art form and film and media literacy.
Learning Waves – The network, funded by Skillnet Ireland (a government initiative), is the training body for the Independent Commercial Radio Sector in Ireland. It has provided training for journalists, such as the Learning Waves Journalism Graduate Programme where, among other things, journalism graduates acquire media literacy knowledge and skills. Learning Waves has also been involved in the TY Media Week Programme, a programme for secondary students that aims to empower young people through Media Literacy practices.
NewsBrands Ireland – the representative body for Ireland’s 17 national news publishers – runs a Press Pass Student Journalism and News Literacy programme – active since 2012, annual programme for Transition Year students (aged 15-16) designed to run over a number of weeks, to learn all about journalism and news literacy. Complete nationwide reach, average of 250 schools taking part each year.
Safefood, an organisation that aims to promote food safety and provide nutritional advice on the island of Ireland, has developed a free media literacy teaching pack for primary school teachers called MediaWise.