How good are we at navigating the digital stream of information?
A new project sets out to gauge the level of media literacy in the Nordic countries, and one of the experts tasked with qualifying the project survey is Associate Professor Gitte Stald from IT University of Copenhagen’s Digital Design department.
Not that long ago, most of us received information from the same news sources, but in today’s digital world information is consumed from a plethora of media outlets and platforms with little to no transparency with regard to political or commercial agendas. Far from only receiving news from traditional media outlets, most of us rely on social media for information, but in order to engage with public discourse we need a public that is capable of discerning critically between reliable and unreliable information. That is why a new pan-Nordic project will gauge the level of media literacy in the Nordic countries.
»One of the experts tasked with ensuring the quality of the questions asked in the survey which is the basis of the project is Associate Professor at ITU’s Digital Design department, Gitte Stald. Her work has focused on media literacy for a number of years, and according to her it is crucial in a democratic society to maintain a critically aware public capable of navigating the complex media landscape.
The problem is that today most of us curate our own information landscape from a plethora of sources. It is therefore important that we are able to critically evaluate sources of information and discuss information openly with others.
Gitte Stald «
“It is our collective, societal responsibility to ensure that the public is capable of navigating the complex stream of information. It is my hope that this project will enable evidence-based policy making and provide a comprehensive dataset for the educational system to rely on when teaching media literacy to children and young people. The focus on media literacy is not new as such, but the rapidly evolving media landscape has presented us with a range of new problems to examine, and it is something we need to take very seriously,” says Gitte Stald.
The aim of the project survey is to gather data on media use and media engagement among citizens of the Nordic countries. The survey will eventually be compiled into an index which may be used by policymakers, researchers, educators, and the media to ensure that future media literacy efforts are evidence-based.
Gitte Stald underlines that media literacy is not about rejecting every piece of information gathered from non-traditional sources (i.e., traditional news outlets):
“The attitude towards what constitutes valid information is still rather conservative – in public discourse as well as among policymakers. The problem is that today most of us curate our own information landscape from a plethora of sources. It is therefore important that we are able to critically evaluate sources of information and discuss information openly with others. This project is all about enabling the public to critically examine their use of media.”
It is also an ambition of the project to raise the level of participation in the public debate and affect social cohesion in a positive way.
“Democratic confidence is connected to your sense of confidence in your media use. Most Danes, in particular young people, find information via social media. In my own research I have encountered young people who repeat the same thing: ‘I don’t know anything, because I get all my information from social media.’ But there is also valid information on social media. Young people subscribe to various news apps, they watch online TV, and listen to radio and podcasts. Young people know more than they think. But they’re not confident in their knowledge, and we have to find a way to enable them in that. Democratic confidence and participation in the public debate is crucial to a democracy,” says Gitte Stald.
Theis Duelund Jensen, Press Officer, tel: 2555 0447, email: firstname.lastname@example.org