Friday, August 12, 2011

UNESCO Media & Information Literacy: report 2

This continues my report from the meeting, held on 11th August in San Juan, Puerto Rico, about developing Media and Information Literacy indicators (organised by IFLA and UNESCO).
There had been a meeting of both Media and Information Literacy (MIL) experts in Bangkok in November to discuss MIL indicators: the report from that is just published & I will do a separate post on that. Then there were two follow up meetings, for IL experts (the one I attended yesterday) and for ML experts. The second presentation on 11th August was a short report, via videolink, about this meeting of the Media Literacy experts, held in Istanbul in July. This meeting had been linked to the conference of The International Association for Media and Communication Research. The programme for the event is here:

The Media Literacy participants at the Istanbul meeting had welcomed the initiative, but with some caution and qualification. They called for a period of constructive critique and felt that developing the MIL indicators should be a long term strategy, rather than rushing things through. They thought there should be in-country adaptions of the indicators (recognising cultural differences), though without compromising principles such as free speech. It was noted that there was a tension between intellectual property rights and notions of freedom of information. Other points to emerge from this media literacy experts meeting included:
- Ethics tied to citizenship (that was the note I made yesterday during the presentation: I think it was stressing the ethical aspects of media literacy in relation to citizenship);
- Criticality was an essential part of MIL;
- Media Literacy had a political dimension.
In the short question period at the end I picked up on this last point. It was confirmed that this was one of the messages from the media literacy experts meeting, and indeed it is my perception that this is more explicitly a theme with ML experts than with IL experts. Personally I think that IL also has a political dimension, and it is a good idea to surface this, rather than pretending that IL is "neutral".
Two other colleagues raised questions:
- Whether countries would really pay attention to any MIL indicators. The answer was that by putting on UNESCO's agenda, it would get attention, even if not from all countries.
- Whether UNESCO could articulate why ML and IL are joined and also why other literacies are not being addressed. The response from the UNESCO side was that these two literacies are most linked with the remit of communication and information. Therefore it seemed (to me) that there was a certain pragmatism, and inclusion of other literacies in the future was not ruled out.
Photos by Sheila Webber: Sculpture on the Unversidad Politecnica de Puerto Rico campus, and a poster with the University's mission, that I saw posted up in several places.

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