This course primarily aims to address the question of how can we leverage media literacy in the post-truth age. It is predicated on a belief that a policy-driven pedagogy needs to deploy digitalisation to integrate critical media literacy in classroom curriculum and also online studies through distance learning for lifelong enlightenment in the digital age.
This course considers the impact on media literacy of two opposing priorities: (1) participatory public sphere and (2) media regulation, while dwelling on challenges of social inclusion, digital divide, universal online access, digital literacy and citizen journalism to strive for public interest. It also aims to consider the implications for media pedagogy of digital policy, cultural policy and education policy.
Rapid digitalisation has led to the transformation of media ecology which is tagged with numerous ‘multi’-prefixed keywords; multimedia, multiplatform, multiformat, multilingual and multichannel. The digital convergence has enabled the traditional modus operandi in our personal, professional, social, political and educational environment or ‘from womb to the tomb’ to borrow an old cliché.
But some argue that the future is already here. It is generally believed that computer-mediated communication will usher in ‘a future that is both utopian and dystopian, in that the human experience will change dramatically.’ (https://goo.gl/mqTk02)
Digitally-connected, wireless and wired networked technology has led to an ubiquitous, interactive, engaging, convenient and above all, ineluctable topography. This has engendered an unprecedented level of audience engagement and involvement in the social media triggering omni-direction flows of user-generated content(UCG) particularly by the young generation.
The incessant avalanche of content in the form of discourses, news, information, images, audio and videos from consumers turned producers is juxtaposed alongside the content of journalistic, educational, commercial, organisational, institutional and government websites. In digital convergence it is necessary to develop a new set of competencies called ‘media literacy’ to enable us to analyse, evaluate, and create messages in a wide variety of media modes, genres, and formats.
Today’s polysemous notion of society; variably known as information society, creative economy, knowledge society and networked society is overwhelmed with content, which cannot possibly be regulated or verified. What is what? What comes from where? Who produces what? Who is who? What is the truth? What is credible? What is propaganda? What is knowledge? How can content be factually checked for accuracy or comments checked for fairness or objectivity checked for journalism?
The media literacy provides an alternative solution in a shift from protectionism to empowerment. The merits of media literacy reside in its potential to empower us to analyse, question, inquire and create.
The above scenario prompts numerous interesting questions; How possible is it for media illiterate people to interpret and understand media messages? How can we meaningfully construct knowledge and increase our understanding of big data given its enormity, depth and the dynamics? How can media texts be subjected to ‘critical autonomy?’ Can media literacy be conceptualised as a capacity building pedagogy in and out of classroom for the digital age? Most importantly, how is citizen journalism perceived by its own creators, consumers and journalists?
Two key questions posed by Petros Iosifidis(2013) are aptly relevant to citizen journalism in particularly from the media literacy perspective: Can the Net act as a public sphere where critical discourse can emerge and influence political action? Can the twitter-sphere recreate the conditions that made ideal speech and public interest a possibility during the era of the Habermasian public sphere? (Petros Iosifidis, 2013)
Media Literacy is the term that describes the skills and competences required to develop, with autonomy and awareness, in the new communicative environment – digital, global and multimedia – of the information society. Media literacy is considered the result of the process of media education. (EC – Ch. 1 .Approaches – existing and possible – to media literacy)
The World Bank as one of the active advocates of media literacy defines it functionally as a field that ‘can strengthen the public interest to improve socio-political conditions, enable citizens to participate actively in public discussions and deliberations to affect change, and empower citizens to fulfill their rights and obligations.’ (Johanna Martinsson (May 2009)
We are particularly concerned with the incidence of a lack of media literacy in India which has contributed to spreaking spates of violence related to cow vigilance and child kidnapping. This unfortunate scenario justifies this course particularly in India.