What media literacy and digital citizenship ?

The government wants to educate young citizens to media and digital citizenship. A good initiative, provided we know what we are talking about. Edifying example with the role of the media in the health crisis.

In a joint press release, the Ministries of Education and Culture ardently plead for an education of young people to the media and to information while fake news is proliferating and disinformation and destabilization companies are at work.
This is a very good initiative, provided that we know what we are talking about. And to be aware that the media are companies whose business consists in “selling” information. That is to say words, sounds, images… That is to say ideas. That is to say, opinions. It is easy to understand why this business does not leave billionaires indifferent. Largely subsidized by the public authorities, the national and regional media do not have the financial independence that would allow them to produce totally impartial information.
Add to this the unprecedented grouping of the major world media within a structure called Trusted New Initiative (NTI), one of whose objectives is to fight against false information. Its first major battle: to denounce all those who question the effectiveness of vaccines. The problem is that some of them have conflicts of interest with the big pharmaceutical companies, as we have written.
This is all we need to tell young citizens to help them understand the press, the media, information, fake news. To help them understand today’s world where mass media are managed by powerful algorithms for the benefit of the most powerful. But is this really new ?

A priority for the Ministry of Education

Here is the press release: “Media and information literacy (MIE) is a priority for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Culture, in conjunction with public education operators, press and media professionals, institutions and associations that are active throughout the country and for all publics.

The IME is fundamental to the construction of a culture and civic awareness, giving students the ability to discern responsible uses of digital technology, to use a critical mind wisely, to understand and interpret information flows, to distinguish between knowledge and beliefs, information and false information.

Web radios in colleges

In accordance with the conclusions of the Estates General of Digital organized in 2020 and following the report of the group of experts, formed after the assassination of Samuel Paty, on “the strengthening of IME and digital citizenship” submitted on July 1, 2021; Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of National Education, Youth and Sports, announced today several measures to strengthen IME.

A circular on the generalization of IME within the education system specifies:

  • The appointment in each academy of an EMI referent placed under the authority of the rectors;
  • The creation in each academy of an EMI unit to manage the policy for the 1st and 2nd grades;
  • The reinforcement of the means given to the academic coordinators of the CLEMI;
  • The distribution of a reference vade mecum on EMI for school teachers and teachers of all disciplines, produced in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture;
  • The distribution of a vade mecum for the implementation of web radio projects in schools, especially in middle schools.

In order to boost this plan to strengthen the IME, a plan for the deployment of web radios in secondary schools has been launched within the framework of the policy in favor of media productions in secondary schools, based on the practices of documentalist teachers and teachers from all disciplines involved in these IME projects.

Transformation through digital technology

Launched as a priority within the framework of the innovative Digital Educational Territories (TNE), this national deployment plan is being carried out in partnership with Arcom (the French public authority responsible for regulating audiovisual and digital communication), Radio France, the Sirti (the independent radios union), the CNRA (the national confederation of community radios), the SNRL (the national union of free radios), with the support of Réseau Canopé and CLEMI.

These measures are part of a double context :

  • The transformation of our societies by digital technology, with the question of production and access to reliable information becoming crucial due to the massive creation of information flows and their instantaneous dissemination on a planetary scale, without sufficient regulation and often without consistency with the rights of States;
  • The need to prevent misuse, illegal use, and to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital media in terms of information.They also aim to respond to certain conclusions of the report of the commission “Enlightenment in the Digital Age”, submitted to the President of the Republic on January 11, 2022, and recommending that the development of critical thinking and the IME be made a major national cause by :
  • Systematizing training in critical thinking and IME in schools, for students from elementary school onwards and for teachers in initial and continuing education;
  • Significantly strengthening the network of academic referents and coordinators in these areas and raising awareness of school authorities to the challenges of IME;
  • Developing training in critical thinking and IME in civil society, both in local educational projects and in educational cities, and in integration measures, from young civic service volunteers to retirees and continuing education.

Finally, in the context of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (FPEU), these actions are in line with the recommendation to develop and promote digital citizenship education adopted on November 21, 2019 and to make it a priority for governments, by the ministers of 47 member states of the Council of Europe.”

Covid-19 : the troubled role of the media