On media literacies and democracy

Today I woke up quite early, which is not indeed very common of me, and through my screen I noticed, again, in despair, that the humanity had screwed up. Coincidentally, I’m lecturing on data journalism and open data today, with the aim of start developing critical thinking and media literacies in my students, therefore rushed to my laptop to re-do my lecture.

Is not just about Trump winning the presidency, and also becoming the chief commander of the armed forced of the country that has invaded more countries than any other in the last decades (they beat you Britain!) bombarding and killing thousand of civilians in the name of. It is about the social constructions and instruments that misled the people of Britain  to vote of Brexit, that allowed Rajoy winning in Spain (again, really!) and made Colombia to vote against peace (yeah!).

We know that media plays a key role in framing political views, perceptions and opinions, but there is media and media (the good, the bad and the ugly), and in some, we need to observe the the amount of hate they can promote – not just via printed – online newspapers but also, across social media, the TV, and any other mean of mass communication – spreading fear and rage, sowing panic, misleading the poor and illiterate into believing that the cause of their poverty is not the bad distribution of wealth, or the corruption in their countries, or the excessive expenses of their armies, or the lack to decent housing because some rich kids keep gambling with the prices of the land, or the lack of access to health because your government basically does not give a shit about you, no, people is told that because of immigration they are denied basic access to human rights, to decent work, to fair salaries… while the rich and the corrupt keep in and get to power poisoning them thanks to right hand of the evil… the right-wing-press.

Now long ago, while preparing my course materials I found this paper Digital Media Literacy Education and Online Civic and Political Participation, and with this other one Critical Media Literacy, Democracy, and the Reconstruction of Education, and they made me reflect, because we are in a time in which we have plenty of access to data, but it is to me quite clear now that people cannot relate to it, cannot understand it, and that is core to use open data to develop citizenship skills, but this will not work if there are not any visible efforts to develop critical media literacies, which can be understood as a 21st century approach to education. It provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy (MediaLit).  Without this literacies, data and media, people will remain ignorant of the bias and misinformation portrayed on the media, because they cannot relate with the numbers and cannot verify the information presented as facts in the information, leading towards voting for the extreme right, for the  ones that have indeed damaged the society, which is preposterous in a digitally – capable – savvy – well equipped society.

As scholars we are taught to assess information critically, to verify claims, to fact-check, to review our sources and validate the validity of the source, and I think that in these dark political times, these are the best skill we can transfer to our students, we need to think of them as future citizens, local and global, that need to support the development of democratic, tolerant and respectful societies, therefore, we need to equip them with skills for democracy and with transversal skills, that according with UNESCO include  tolerance, openness, respect for diversity and intercultural understanding, therefore we need to start thinking that Open Education may not just relate with open content, open access or open data, but with the transformative power that openness as philosophy has, because by being able to freely access resources, we can help to promote peace and democracy.

 

Disclaimer: All the images were taken from Google without even looking at the licenses, I’m bloody angry today and I needed to showcase how right wing media has led, in less than a year to basically destroy democracy and democratic participation as we knew it…..

 

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