Political literacy is becoming one of the essential parts of life’s toolbox, but what is it?
Political Literacy is a set of skills considered essential for citizens to participate in government. Media Literacy falls under Political Literacy as one of those skills. Media Literacy is a set of skills that allows you to critically analyse the media and deal with misinformation.
Media and political literacy are becoming more important. We need to be politically and media literate to spot the disinformation, misinformation and malinformation present in the news we digest. We need to be able to view the information objectively, without partisanship, so that we can make a clear judgement about its effectiveness and accuracy.
Media literacy and political literacy are important signs of democracy. They show that the citizens of a country are politically engaged, that they are capable of critically assessing their leaders, and most crucially, that they are able to spot falsehoods.
The press exists to hold our government to account, to act as another front of the opposition, working to uphold democracy in the UK. The press can only survive if people have a different relationship with the news. An independent press can only survive if its consumers develop a new skillset to compensate for the increased background noise of misinformation, disinformation and malinformation.
We live in a time when the press is trying to survive by finding new streams of income, such as going behind paywalls, which are increasingly derided.
Without political literacy, media literacy and press freedom, we end up sliding further away from being a democracy and closer to developing features of an oligarchy or dictatorship. On Freedom House, they rank every country’s democracy out of a 100 each year. Countries which have a poor relationship with their press will find that their score goes down because of that. The UK’s score in the most recent report was 94, but this could go down if press freedom becomes undermined.
A vicious ‘Infodemic’
A few weeks ago, the WHO (World Health Organisation) announced that aside from the world going through a pandemic, it is also undergoing an Infodemic. It defined this Infodemic as:
‘an overabundance of information, some accurate and some not. [This] makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it’.
Such is the influence of those who are promoting conspiracy theories, that people are beginning to distrust what the government and media are telling them. Sadly, we are already seeing cases of people hurting themselves because they are believing this misinformation.
To fight back, Shout Out UK have teamed up with the US Embassy to create a range of media and political literacy resources to inform, educate and entertain. We want to help as many people as possible become more resilient towards misinformation and disinformation, and become more confident to speak their mind on issues they care about.
Available for free on Itunes, Android, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and TuneIn, is our brand new podcast Media Minded. Hosted by our Founder, Matteo Bergamini, it is specifically focussed on political and media literacy. Each episode interviews a different journalist, exploring their unique experience of working inside the constantly changing environment of breaking news.
New episodes are released every Wednesday, with interviewees from around the world discussing how they are navigating and helping to confront the risky environment of misinformation and conspiracy theories. A recent example of one such theory is the claim that Covid-19 is caused by 5G. This is not true. But the idea has developed traction over recent months, particularly as celebrities have shared their support online.
Alongside Media Minded, are our infographics and cartoon animations. The infographics are visual representations of information that we wish to get across. These graphics allow us to make the content we wish to present more engaging by giving it in bitesize chunks. We have been producing a series of infographics specifically on topics relevant to media literacy, such as social media misinformation and ethical journalism.
As mentioned, we have also prepared short cartoon animations that act as another way for us to communicate important information around political and media literacy. The most recent one was on media literacy terms, explaining the differences between misinformation, disinformation and malinformation.
We hope you find our resources useful and enjoyable, and remember that you can find us on Twitter (Shoutout_uk), Instagram (shoutoutuk_official), and Facebook (Shout Out UK)