Teachers and academics urge ‘vital’ media literacy to be taught in schools

May 29, 2024

Teachers and academics urge ‘vital’ media literacy to be taught in schools

Media literacy is a subject that should be in all schools in New Zealand says Nation Association of Media Educators representative Jerome Cargill. Photo: Tiana Thorpe

With a rise of disinformation and unreliable online news platforms, teachers and journalists are urged to make media literacy a priority in all schools.

Dr Gavin Ellis, an honorary research fellow at Auckland University’s Koi Tū: the Centre for Informed Future, says that while misinformation is “not a new phenomenon”, it is spreading fast.

“The only thing that has changed and become much, much more dangerous is the ease with which it can be disseminated to huge numbers of people,” says Ellis.

He recently published a report “If not journalists, then who?” which focuses on the changing media landscape in journalism.

Ellis says that educating students with media literacy is “absolutely vital” and students should be educated in pre-bunking misinformation and journalism.

“Part of preparing people for disinformation is just simply educating them why journalism is so important and so needed.”

Regional representative coordinator of the Nation Association of Media Educators (NAME) Jerome Cargill says that while 15 years ago most students were engaged with news, now only a few are doing so.

“Most of them would be getting (news) from, you know, TikTok and saying that they're engaging with the news and yeah, that's a huge concern,” says Cargill.

Recently New Zealand schools had their first media literacy week which Cargill sees as vital as there is no specific media literacy curriculum.

“I don't think what we are doing in schools is necessarily preparing them the best for those contexts which they're which they're playing in.”

Cargill says he thinks “the key thing to building media is actually talking about media literacy.”

“I think it's really clear that we actually have to engage them with these concepts, put the dark examples with them and unpack them, debunk them, pre-bunk it.”

Both Cargill and Dr Ellis agree that social media platforms and alternative news sites can lead to dangerous echo chambers.

Listen here to Jerome Cargill talking more about misinformation.

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