Fake news and online rumours – why media literacy is more important than ever

Learn to think critically about the media you are consuming and start making informed decisions about what is fake news and what is the truth. Here’s why it matters and how you can get started today!

Media literacy is the ability to think critically about what you are seeing, reading, and hearing. It helps us to analyse information from a variety of viewpoints. With so many sources of information today, critical thinking skills can help people identify reliable sources and filter through the noise to get at the truth. For example, we may spot fake news faster or understand why certain products are advertised more than others on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram. We might also notice that content shared on those platforms often comes with an agenda – such as promoting an organisation’s political ideology or persuading someone to buy something they don’t need.

Importance of media literacy

Media literacy is essential because it helps people understand the messages that are being communicated to them. With so many sources of information today, media literacy can help people identify reliable sources and filter through the noise to get at the truth.

media literacy
Media literacy means learning to think critically

Inherent bias in media

Media literacy can help people recognise biases in the media and how they may affect their perception of an event or issue. For example, a conservative news outlet might only cover terrorist attacks to make people afraid. That same media organisation may also use emotional language to make readers feel negatively towards refugees and immigrants coming into their country. A progressive news site may promote equality for all genders or highlight how poverty affects minority communities. By recognising those biases, we can make decisions on how to respond to these sometimes emotive topics rationally.

Media literacy as an educational tool

Media literacy can also be used to learn about new ideas, cultures, and perspectives that may not have been previously considered. Understanding media may help you do better at school or work (e.g., writing a persuasive essay). Media literacy can also help people decide what they want to learn more about to fill in the gaps in knowledge the traditional media may have left out.

Taking charge

The more aware we are of what’s happening around us in our communities, schools, and workplaces – the better equipped we’ll be to create change. For example, we can use the media we consume to inform ourselves about what’s happening in our nation and world. The more aware we are of how certain groups are underrepresented or misrepresented by mainstream media, the more impetus for these groups to take charge of their representation through social media platforms like Twitter and blogs.

Critical Thinking

Learning how to critically analyse media provides students with skills they need when entering college or starting their careers. A student who has mastered media literacy skills may comprehend a news article and understand how the reporter is framing it, read between the lines of social media posts for bias or intent, spot an advertisement from afar on TV.

Media literacy is a skill that has been a part of the curriculum for decades, but its importance is on an all-time high particularly with the advent of deepfakes and AI-generated content. Not only does it allow students to analyze media in their lives and communities critically, but it also prepares them for college or careers.

Did you enjoy this post? If yes, maybe you’d like to read an article I wrote about media literacy and artificial intelligence.