Media and Information Literacy can save lives | Media and Information Literacy | DW | 23.10.2020
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Media and Information Literacy can save lives

Global MIL week is a chance to celebrate MIL as an essential set of skills that saves lives in the pandemic and beyond. DW Akademie’s Project Manager Lena Nitsche reflects on a turbulent year for MIL.

Illustrationen MIL

New challenges in todays fragmented media landscape means finding new appraoch to convey media literacy skills.

The Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week is taking place from October 23 to 31 and is marked by events and celebrations around the world. DW Akademie and our MIL partners will join in the celebrations with online events and discussions and the launch of special projects. The annual event is again a chance to celebrate MIL but also to reflect on the previous MIL year. And what a turbulent year for MIL it was! 

The COVID-19 pandemic not only highlighted how essential it is for people to have access to reliable and trustworthy information, it underlined that a lack of MIL skills might put whole societies and the physical health of people in danger. It is simply dangerous if people share information without verifying sources.  

A couple of weeks ago, our colleagues from the Global Media Forum asked their audiences if they had ever shared a piece of misinformation. More than 12,000 people responded and almost half of them stated that they had  many of them in the context of COVID-19. Even well-educated people fall victim to misinformation and this will only increase as the pandemic continues. An atmosphere of fear, the uncertainty of peoples futures and the ongoing fragmentation of our media environment created the ideal atmosphere for misinformation to spread. 

MIL is a prerequisite for freedom of expression, access to information and democratic societies. Citizens not only need the skills to access reliable information and to judge if they are true or false but also the confidence to act as responsible digital citizens and shape the world they live in for the better — now more than ever. This is a crucial time to promote MIL. Let’s increase our efforts to reach more people, connect with more stakeholders and policymakers and facilitate more exchange. The Global MIL week is an excellent opportunity to do this.  

New challenges, new approaches 

DW Akademie is working on MIL with local partners in more than 23 countries. Covid-19 has presented increased opportunities for e-learning and this has also affected how we run our MIL projects. However, according to UNICEF, more than 460 million children and youth worldwide do not have access to distant learning opportunities because of a lack of policies or equipmentWe need to make sure that MIL projects also reach children without steady access to the internet and digital technologies. Otherwise there is a risk that the uptake of e-learning will lead to even more inequality. 

MIL Workshop Ukraine

Claiming your rights is an essential part of MIL projects.

In addition to this, governments around the world continue to clamp down on our digital rights. During the pandemic, increased digital measures to fight the coronavirus such as tracing apps or new laws even sped up these negative developments. Increased technical opportunities through artificial intelligence means that more sophisticated ways for surveillance and the role of private social media companies affects citizens ability to communicate and participate onlineAll of this will be essential when thinking about the future of MIL. Our digital sphere is becoming more complex and more controversial. And MIL should not only empower citizens with skills but also with the confidence to stand up for their rights and keep others accountable. 

The future of MIL 

In collaboration with our partners across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa, we want to celebrate MIL and call for more collaboration on these issues. I invite you to browse through our dossier and be inspired by the work of MIL experts worldwide. Topics range from new challenges such as digital rights, new technologies and applications such as Tik Tok to new approaches such as new forms of e-learning, working with influencers and gamification. We want to highlight what the future of MIL means for us. Please join us in celebrating MIL as a powerful tool and be part of the global conversation on how we can create a media and information landscape that promotes freedom of expression and digital participation.  

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