Thursday, November 29, 2018
Tackling the Information Crisis: A Policy Framework for Media Systems Resilience
A headline argument is that "the information crisis is manifested in ‘five giant evils’ among the UK public – confusion, cynicism, fragmentation,irresponsibility and apathy." They propose setting up an "Independent Platform Agency", "Its purpose, initially, will be not direct regulation, but rather an ‘observatory and policy advice’ function, and a permanent institutional presence to encourage the various initiatives attempting to address problems of information" (p36). It would mainly focus on the way that platforms (e.g. Facebook) engage with content, but also include a proposed role to "Mobilise and coordinate all relevant actors to ensure an inclusive and sustained programme in media literacy for both children and adults, and conduct evaluations of initiatives. It should work with Ofcom to ensure sufficient evidence on the public’s critical news and information literacy."(p37, my emphasis). I think that this proposal is putting forward at a national level something like what EU expert group on misinformation was recommending at a pan-national level.
They urge that the "Department for Education should lead an inclusive educational framework to build digital literacy and the IPA would coordinate work with the BBC and public service broadcasters, libraries, the National Literacy Trust and the platforms" (p38, under "Government should mobilise and coordinate an integrated new programme in media literacy" - my emphasis)
They stress the value of Media Literacy, but the references to Information Literacy are confused. They identify media literacy as "A necessary condition for democracy in a digital age" (pp.25-27), but the only direct mention of information literacy is rather dismissive "In a crowded curriculum, neither Media Studies nor Citizenship education have been prioritised, with the former studied by only a minority and the latter barely finding space in the curriculum. ... Information literacy is in the Citizenship curriculum and that is compulsory, but there is little time for critical digital literacy."
Apart from this, there is the aforementioned prominent inclusion of "critical news and information literacy", but there is no explanation of what this means. This might seem like semantics, but this does tend to influence who is invited into initiatives and conversations - I think that in this context it would have been more helpful to talk about "Media and Information Literacy" throughout. No-one from the library or information side appears to have been centrally involved so far (though this seems to be an institutional initiative, rather than anything official, so obviously they can frame it how they wish).
The report can be downloaded from here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/media-and-communications/truth-trust-and-technology-commission/The-report
The LSE Truth, Trust and Technology (T3) Commission aims to "work with experts, practitioners and the public to identify structural causes of media misinformation and set out a new framework for strategic policy. It is funded by the LSE Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund. http://www.lse.ac.uk/media-and-communications/truth-trust-and-technology-commission
Photo by Sheila Webber: Kaunas, Lithuania, October 2018 taken during the Global MIL conference.