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Media Literacy Country Profile

Italy lags behind many European countries in terms of internet use skills, according to the European Commission DESI index, but the government and others have been looking to change this with various efforts to invest in digital literacy. A relatively high number – 75% – of Italians access news online, according to the 2022 Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, and 47% use social media for news. Trust in news is in decline.

The country lacks a national media literacy strategy and dedicated institution, but initiatives addressing media literacy have been growing over the past few decades. The Carta di Bellaria, a non-binding agreement made in 2002 by a multistakeholder group, aimed of introducing some principles, coordination and regulation to media literacy activities. The Associazione Italiana Media Education (MED) has played a coordinating and networking role since 1996, and runs various projects and summer schools.

The Media Pluralism Monitor reports for 2021 and 2022 concluded that Italy’s existing media literacy policies and initiatives are limited in scope and resources. In 2020, new guidelines were issued for a curriculum of digital civic education were issued, but the impact of this is not yet clear. The MPM authors recommended the adoption of a holistic media literacy policy to tackle disinformation and hate speech online and offline.

For more on media literacy in Italy, please see Media & Learning’s dedicated webinar.

EDMO hub membership

The Italian Digital Media Observatory (IDMO) is coordinated by Luiss University, Rome.

Key media literacy activities:

  • Series of public workshops to inform about disinformation narratives and strategies across digital media:
    • 27/28 September 2021- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Data Journalism, data at the service of communication. A discussion on the importance of studying data, how and where to get it, and its reliability. Together, the speakers have tested new programs and software such as GPT-3
    • 15/16 September 2022 (within the project MediaFutures): Future trends of technology in media and journalism. Trainings on data journalism, by developing specific guidelines and learning materials aimed at improving journalists digital and media literacy skills.
  • Public interventions in collaboration with RAI:
    • Video Series on disinformation and digital inclusion. RAI per il Sociale/ Inclusione digitale will produce the so-called “Digital Pills”, with 30 two-minute videos. The aim is to give citizens the appropriate tools to develop their critical thinking and exercise their digital citizenship. The content is designed for use on social media, but also on online and linear TV channels. Three literacy campaigns, consisting of 10 ‘pills’ each, have been already produced and spread across digital media.
    • Broadcast series targeting school libraries: RAI Cultura/Rai Scuola will work on a broadcast of 5 episodes (30 min each) to provide guidance to transform school libraries into active media literacy and disinformation prevention centres.
    • Cooperation with leading academic experts at Università Cattolica di Milano to carry out cognitive research of schools’ experiences in the field of media literacy, to improve information literacy approaches. A first report, entitled “Media Literacy Versus Fake News. Experiences and Best Practices in Italy” is available online.
  • Public interventions in collaboration with telecoms provider TIM:
    • TIM – Knowing with Digital Media: training information on how to navigate the web and social media and avoid the traps they can hide. This involved:
      • Live Events: 4 Webinars with teachers, professors, researchers and journalists with expertise on disinformation.
      • Learning Pill: 4 short videos covering the topics covered in the webinars. The learning pills represent not just theory, but concrete support in the search for personal strategies to counter disinformation thanks to a careful use of technology and a trained critical sense.
      • Game: 4 opportunities through edutainment (15 min each) to test the knowledge and skills acquired, individually or by competing with others.

LUISS will further provide guidance to bottom-up initiatives promoting citizens’ awareness and information on scientific topics, in order to fight counter-narratives that incentivize the deterioration of trust in knowledge authorities in contemporary public spheres. Furthermore, LUISS’ training programs will envisage the implementation of digital tools co-designed with citizens to access trustworthy news and facilitate and strengthen media and political vertical accountability.

Key contacts:
Gianni Riotta
Elena Musi

Media literacy at a national level

There is no statutory institutional coordination at a national level.

AGCOM (Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni), established by Law No. 249/1997, is an independent administrative body empowered to regulate and supervise electronic communications, broadcasting and publishing in Italy, but it does not currently deal directly with media literacy. Its responsibilities with regards to media literacy campaigns carried out by tech providers may increase with the implementation of the DSA.

The status of media literacy in the national curriculum

Media literacy is not a specific topic in the school curriculum, but there are some pertinent transversal elements.

The Italian National Plan for Digital Education (Piano Nazionale Scuola Digitale, or PNSD) was launched by the Ministry of Education as part of the 2015 school reform (Law 107/2015). It aims to introduce more innovation into Italy’s school system and to bring it into the digital age. Actions are organised into five main areas: tools, skills, content, staff training and supporting measures. Actions 14 and 15 outline a framework for digital competencies and media education. This framework details plans to educate all children about their rights and responsibilities online, about the dynamics of social networks, about reliability of sources, copyright, privacy and data protection.

Civic education was introduced as a separate subject in in the curriculum in 2019 from kindergarten upwards. This includes aspects of digital citizenship.

The 2022 Media Pluralism Monitor found that despite the “growing awareness of the urgency of intervening, the media literacy presence in the compulsory education curriculum is very limited from a quantitative point of view, and the teachers’ training is not well-developed and comprehensive.”

The position of media literacy initiatives outside formal education

The European Audiovisual Observatory’s 2016 Media Literacy Mapping in EU-28 report found that in the absence of central institutional coordination, a lively community of academics and civil society organizations has emerged, with online platforms and providers also often promoting digital media literacy initiatives. These are mainly at a local or regional level, however, so public awareness and budgets remain low.

Media literacy stakeholders

The Associazione Italiana Media Education (MED) provides networking and coordination between academics, media professionals and teachers. It is a multistakeholder lobby association that also aims to change policy. It publishes a journal of media education, and organised a Media Education Week, with the goal of making media education more visible at a national level.

Osservatorio Permanente Giovani-Editori aims to help young people develop their critical thinking skills and ability to assess quality information, in partnership with major news publications. A key project involves introducing newspapers into secondary school classrooms.

Con i Bambini, a non-profit that funds projects to tackle educational poverty in children, funds the S.C.AT.T.I project (Scuola, Comunità, Attivazione, Territori, Innovazione) which promotes the positive use of digital technology.

Rai is the Italian national public broadcaster, owned by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. It provides educational resources, including some focused on digital and media literacy, and is collaborating with IDMO.

TIM (Telecom Italia), a major telecommunications company, has run programmes promoting digital literacy and digital inclusion for some years, and is now collaborating with IDMO.