Media literacy

EDITORIAL: Media literacy and its essential character for a functioning democracy

From sensationalism to prejudice to fake news, there are many ways the consumer can be bamboozled in the age of online and television media. We are constantly bombarded with high-profile information from all quarters, whether on television, radio, newspapers or social media. At Daily wild cat, we believe that an education and an understanding of media literacy are as important to a functioning democracy as information itself.

While the act of reading a journalistic article should be a straightforward process that gives the reader clear facts and information about events, people, topics, etc., we don’t live in a perfect world. It is up to the individual consumer to have tools to filter out the truth and lies in every medium viewed from any platform, be it evening newspapers and TV news or social media and d ‘Internet.

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Media literacy is the set of skills involved in the critical consumption of news and media by identifying where the media come from and what they are supposed to do. Media literacy is what enables citizens of democracies to consume media information and understand what is happening in the world around them.

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In order to turn media literacy from a buzzword into a real concept, it is important to understand the contexts in which you see media, where the media come from, and what message is behind the information it contains. in a vehicle media source.

Democracy depends on its citizens and their ability to master the media. In other words, the only way for a democracy to survive is for its citizens to filter out false information. In society, people act on the basis of information, and the most basic duty of life in a democracy – to vote – is useless without factual information.

Spreading false information can also cause real physical damage. False information about racial groups and religions can lead to hate crimes, according to the United Nations. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, that danger has been clear with anti-Asian hate crimes occurring due to false information being disseminated online. While words can be revised, actions cannot, especially those motivated by the hatred and meanness that false information can provoke.

Many cases of disinformation proliferating on social media have become relevant this year alone. One example is the conspiracy theory that the online furniture store Wayfair was selling very expensive furniture labeled with the names of missing children as part of an elaborate child sex trafficking program, which was not true. Unfortunately, despite absolutely no evidence to support this claim, you can see the spread and find the allegations of this conspiracy on Twitter with a simple search.

This conspiracy theory is a small component of the growing terrorist group QAnon, which is originally an umbrella term for the fringe plots of the 4chan website. The fundamental agreement of QAnon believers is that America’s leading Democrats and celebrities are all part of a child sex trafficking, pedophile, and Satan worshiping ring – including President-elect Joe Biden and his affiliates, celebrities like Oprah. Winfrey and religious leaders like Pope Francis. – while outgoing President Donald Trump is elected to rid the country of these people through “The Storm”.

According to The New York Times, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been instrumental in spreading the online conspiracy. Acts of violence and threats have been linked to the plot, leading the current FBI director to classify the group as a national terrorist organization. Trump has only encouraged the group, declaring that they “are people who love our country” and refusing to condemn them when asked directly.

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Trump also did more than allow and encourage a national terrorist group. As of November 16, he had tweeted over 300 false claims about presidential election results, with more being reported daily. Twitter flagged this flood of disinformation as “disputed,” but left the Tweets visible. This not only allows the spread of disinformation that destroys the credibility of what has been the safest election in U.S. history, but allows its supporters to actively deny reality, reject election results, and encourage violence against election officials.

Since Trump’s defeat, it has been reported that QAnon has “gone dark,” with no new “Q” messages, with a mixture of denial and an understanding of the loss among supporters. This doesn’t mean that QAnon is no longer a domestic terrorist group, it just means that their biggest facilitator’s platform has become much smaller. It will not put an end to the beliefs or acts of violence of the groups.

QAnon and its many subscribers are just one example of how disinformation can infect a population by feeding people’s fear and lies in order to gain traction in popular media. The acts of violence encouraged by the leaders of QAnon and Trump pose a real and substantial threat to the functioning of our free elections in the United States.

This spiral of false information, as previously mentioned, is largely enabled by the failure of filtering on social media platforms. A report from March 2019 showed that 49% of American adults unknowingly shared false information through social media.

the Daily wild cat Strongly believes in the importance of media literacy as the media becomes more and more influential in shaping our culture and beliefs, and therefore our public policy. Fake news – including faked photos, online conspiracies, and deep-rooted fakes – continues to infect our democracy with disinformation that dramatically affects the outcome of politics, elections, and the lives of every person under the jurisdiction of the United States. United States

While media literacy continues to be neglected, fake news not only threatens marginalized citizens and all those who oppose it, but also has the potential to undermine the idea of ​​a free press, which is essential to the functioning of a democracy. The need for media education cannot be ignored. Drastic change must occur by educating children about the media they consume, as well as by working to earn adults’ trust in trustworthy news organizations. This education must evolve with technologies and media platforms.

Journalists work for the public. The public must choose carefully where their information comes from, while trusting journalists who work tirelessly to provide them with information to use when voting for the future.


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