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Media literacy

The role of EDMO

EDMO’s involvement in media literacy in Europe has begun with a stakeholder mapping and reflection exercise, to identify how to play the most valuable role in increasing the public’s media literacy. We have spent a significant period listening to the media literacy community about how to make EDMO’s work as valuable as possible.

In terms of the role that EDMO should play, conversations with experts and practitioners have identified a desire for:

  • Clarity in terms of who is doing what and who is responsible for what. It is an immensely complex field.
  • A place to increase awareness among the various stakeholders involved of the different types of initiatives going on, for example, educators and regulators who might not have much contact elsewhere in the field.
  • Strengthening and developing existing networks, increasing coordination at a European level.
  • Best practices for those looking at what to do, including a typology or categorization of different activities and examples of different types of projects and materials for campaigning, education etc.
  • A way to amplify the reach of effective projects.
  • A place to find out exactly what tech platforms/VSPs are doing in each country.
  • A place to find out what funding opportunities are available for media literacy projects.
  • Help with measuring impact and effectiveness, which is a definite challenge in this area.

EDMO’s target audience

EDMO’s audience is likely to be media literacy stakeholders across Europe: practitioners, policymakers, regulators, funders and more. These will include members of the existing and future national hubs who are all planning media literacy activities.

The role of the EDMO national hubs

The EDMO national hubs will be crucial for making a practical difference in terms of media literacy in Europe. The direct links with national contexts via the hubs is one of the strengths of the EDMO model and it is essential to ensure that the hubs are best supported in their efforts, and that valuable initiatives are highlighted and shared to promote the exchange of knowledge and ideas. This will have a positive impact on the sector as a whole, and complements the statement in the European Democracy Action Plan that “EDMO and the multidisciplinary community coordinated by it, will provide support to national media literacy campaigns aiming at strengthening citizens’ ability to assess the quality and veracity of online information, including citizens with additional needs. Through the work of its national hubs, the EDMO will identify specific issues to be tackled.”

Ongoing work

EDMO is in the process of building webpages, which will include the following resources:

An introduction to media literacy, its importance, complexity and challenges, and in particular how it relates to tackling disinformation. This will include views from Advisory Group members and other experts, and the latest thinking on issues such as evaluation, which are relevant to many practitioners and others. It can include a discussion of formal education and trends towards a focus on digital literacy. We will also make sure that key research is explained in an accessible manner.

We will include an overview of Europe-wide stakeholders and their roles and priorities, from policymakers to civil society to tech companies, with contacts wherever possible. We are investigating the clearest and most informative way to do this mapping.

Given the diversity and complexity of the European media literacy landscape, we plan to create brief summaries of the situation in each country, specifying any public body with a media literacy mandate, identifying key stakeholders and any useful contacts, the focus of major projects and campaigns, and any gaps to be filled. We will include the status of media literacy within formal education in each country.

Media literacy practitioners are likely to be seeking examples of specific types of projects that, for example, target particular skills, make interventions at particular points in the behaviour change process, or address particular audiences.

We could therefore include examples of initiatives that demonstrate different aspects of good practice, such as:

  • Successful multistakeholder projects, bringing together players from different sectors
  • Projects with a focus on skills that have been shown by researchers to have significant impact, such as critical thinking or evaluation.
  • Interventions at different times in the behaviour change process: addressing why people fall for misinformation and the actions at each stage that can stop this
  • What a successful public awareness campaign looks like
  • Educational materials with some demonstrable impact
  • How to target different age groups such as older people, who are often harder to reach and under-served by media literacy campaigns.
  • What public service media (or other news organisations) can do to help their audiences resist disinformation

These suggestions are based on conversations with experts and practitioners, but we are continuing discussions and are open to other suggestions. We are thinking about how best to describe and categorise different projects and resources, whether according to the aspect of media literacy that they address, or to their target audience. We are aware of the challenges in evaluating media literacy initiatives and the difficulties associated with selecting certain projects to highlight, and are working to establish criteria that we can use to ensure quality standards.

There are some strong cross-border networks of regulators and policymakers with a media literacy focus which play a valuable role, but communication between media literacy practitioners across Europe could be increased, and EDMO could enable this. There is also a potential lack of communication between policymakers and regulators and those working on media literacy ‘on the ground,’ and EDMO could improve this by highlighting relevant research initiatives and discussions.

Increased networking is likely to have a positive impact on the media literacy sector as a whole, as collaboration is key in such a multi-faceted field. The 2016 European Audiovisual Observatory’s media literacy mapping study found that the majority of the ‘most significant’ media literacy projects were the result of cross-sector collaboration, and according to Ofcom’s research “it is unlikely that an organisation working in isolation will be very effective at promoting media literacy in the long term.”

We will work with the EDMO national hubs to decide on the best way to encourage networking and to ensure that the website enables others to participate also. We plan to advertise the events and networking opportunities of media literacy organisations, and potentially host networking and knowledge exchange events if resources allow