We all have a huge opportunity ahead in the digital age, and it is up to each one of us to make the most of it, utilizing media and information literacy (MIL) skills, believes the Brazilian Vlogger Alexandre Amaral:
Alexandre Amaral is a 21-year old journalism student from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. He is currently part of the research group "Journalism, Law and Freedom" and acts as a Youth Representative on the UNESCO GAPMIL Youth Subcommittee. For the past two years he has been involved in informing about journalism and audiovisual projects from his University aimed at empowering citizens by imparting critical thinking and MIL competencies. He believes we all have a huge opportunity ahead in the digital age, and it is up to each one of us to make the most of it, utilizing media and information literacy (MIL) skills to create inspiring and meaningful content that can change lives for the better. #mediadev spoke to the young vlogger:
#mediadev: How did you get involved in media literacy and why is it important for you?
I like to say that I didn’t choose media literacy, media literacy chose me. All good journalism is predicated on one simple assumption: The truth is of public interest. If we all know the facts, we can take better decisions to improve our lives. Thus, we need citizens to be able to discern by themselves reliable reporting from misinformation. Information can change the world. That’s why, when I had the opportunity, I joined my University’s MIL projects two years ago.
#mediadev: What do you mean by saying that media literacy can change life for better?
Because media literacy gives people freedom. If you know how to think critically about the information you consume and how to articulate your thoughts properly, you become unstoppable. And there isn’t a thing oppressive governments and ideological groups can do to suppress you. Media literacy is, at its core, democratic. It enables citizens to achieve their full potential.
#mediadev: You are also working as a Youth representative for the UNESCO GAPMIL Youth Subcommittee. What does this mean?
That means I’m able to advocate for MIL globally, especially for youth. I represent and give voice to realities of my region and my country through the Youth Subcommittee. Together with other representatives, we articulate international projects and events that enhance MIL awareness.
UNESCO GAPMIL can articulate concrete partnerships to drive MIL development and impact globally, since it is an impartial and international body. It unifies the MIL community to speak as one voice on certain critical matters, particularly as it relates to policies. It also connects academic findings from universities of the MILID Network to MIL practitioners.
#mediadev: Which opportunities do you see ahead in the digital age?
I see every opportunity. I believe this is the greatest era to be alive. I’m aware that there is plenty of wrong happening in the world, but the fact that we can use the internet to reach out to so many people is a miracle. The digital age enables us to learn anything, work everywhere and connect with people instantly. 24 hours, 365 days a year. People that advocate for media literacy should be very excited for the future.
#mediadev: What are the biggest obstacles for global media literacy?
Ignorance, intolerance and corruption. Unfortunately, some people profit from deceiving others with disinformation. But MIL will overcome that. The public interest always triumphs at the end.
Media literacy has been getting more traction in Brazil lately, especially in universities. But it definitely still has an extensively long way to go, so we can reach the major populations of the country. The sooner we can encompass critical thinking into media consumption/creation the better. Media literacy is not apart from every other learning experience. On the contrary, all of us should have media literacy competencies to evaluate if the information that is passed on to us is relevant.