New Media Literacy: Informed Consumption and Production of Content

Over the last couple of decades the Internet has changed the way we consume and produce media. Thanks to the rise of social media and user-generated content, the lines between producers, distributors and consumers of media have been forever blurred.

The ability to interpret, question and understand the messages we receive has never been so important, which is why Media Literacy is one of the Institute for the Future’s (IFTF) top 10 skills required for success in 2020.

According to media literacy educator Julie Smith, there are a number of questions we should all be asking about the messages we receive from the media. Smith uses the example of the current US presidential election campaigns to illustrate her point, analysing some of the messages that have been recently distributed about the candidates in the mainstream media.

Smith believes that media literacy is all about knowing where your messages are coming from and where the money is being made. She believes it’s also important to look at the personal biases that impact the news we choose and the way we consume and interpret it. Depending on their headlines, we choose to read certain articles we find online or pick up specific newspapers and ignore others.

The media is an incredibly powerful force in our lives, and if we can become literate and understand the way it is used to manipulate us, we can think more critically about it and avoid blindly believing everything we hear or read.

According to the IFTF, new media literacy also applies to employees and organisations and anyone who is the producer of content, whether it’s a social media post or a presentation. With user-generated content on the rise, future employees will be expected to produce visual and written content on behalf of an organisation more frequently and to a higher standard than now.

The expectations for how content is presented are rising steadily and now more and more employees are expected to be confident creating professional looking videos and other forms of visual and written content, even if they are not journalists, designers or video editors by profession.

New media literacy covers both the consumption of media and the creation of it, and the ability to analyse content and interpret it correctly has never been more important than now. As we all become more media savvy, a higher level of media literacy won’t be the domain of an educated minority, it will be something we all need to embrace.

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