The European Union defines media literacy as “the capacity to access, understand and critically evaluate different aspects of media and media content. Media literacy also includes the ability to communicate in a variety of contexts – television, cinema, video, websites, print media, radio, video games and virtual communities. This includes any creative and information content, in other words, the text, images, sounds and messages that form a large part of daily contemporary culture.”
The European Charter for Media Literacy adopted by the Commission in September 2006 encourages citizens to play a full role in 21st century European culture, democracy and social life.
• Article 26 of the European directive on audio-visual media services (SMA) of 2007 asked each member country for a report on their actions on behalf of media literacy.
• In 2009, the European Commission published « Recommendations on media literacy in the digital environment for a more competitive audio-visual and content industry and an inclusive knowledge society ».
Public policy has developed over the years, strongly driven by European institutions.
Some media groups and press titles feel, additionally, that media literacy is their responsibility.
Since 1989 the Liaison Centre for Teaching and Media Information (CLEMI) has been running, with undeniable success, the « Press Week and the Media at school » event. This aims specifically to bring young people closer to the press, to understand how the news is produced, and also create an annual event for media literacy that extends to the rights of the citizen.
There are many forms of exchange between media professionals and teenagers, e.g. visits to newspapers, journalists going into schools, etc.
Secondary schools can also produce their own newspapers and blogs, benefitting from professional support.
Developing media literacy appears in the remit for public television and is the subject of a recent initiative by the higher council for audio-visual media which launched a specific website to this end in November 2013.
A number of specialist programmes that analyse the media have thrived on radio and TV, as well as on the web, and include L’atelier des médias on RFI, the website Arrêt sur images and Médias le magazine on France 5.
Since 1997, the CSEM (superior council for media literacy) has grouped together all the stakeholders in the sector.
For its part, the association for professional journalists of Belgium organises an annual event, Journalists in the classroom in which journalists, who are paid to participate, describe their profession to high school children.
A number of one-off media literacy programmes for young people are organised in the different cantons. In French speaking Switzerland, for example, the site e-media.ch is very active.
At the request of Spanish education centres or institutions, journalist associations promote pupil awareness regarding the importance of reading a newspaper. But these are isolated interventions which are not part of a national programme nor an activity regulated by academic authorities.
Press days in schools are also rare initiatives. In Catalonia, the profession is represented at this sort of event by the college of journalists.
The British MediaEd site offers teaching tools for teachers.
De Standaard : Individual initiatives only
Europe 1 : These are taken on an individual basis
Nothing has been formalised – if journalists go into schools it is on an individual basis.
France 24 : When requested
France 24 responds to all requests from teachers and has already participated in the schools’ press week.
Le Monde : Nothing formal but …
A group of journalists regularly takes part in schools’ Press Week.
Ouest France : There are a number of structured initiatives
The paper has developed a site devoted to the press and young people: www.ouestfrance-ecole.com
Ouest-France is without doubt the most advanced French newspaper in its approach to developing media literacy and the links between the press and young readers.
The Rennes newspaper provides support for the launch of a school newspapers, practical workshops, definitions of journalism vocabulary, training for teachers about the press, on-line exercises, teaching aids for school teachers, video reports about the life of the newspaper, etc.
On average, 10 000 young people visit Ouest-France annually, as part of the schools programme.
Local youth correspondents, aged 16-25, write articles about young people. They meet twice a month to promote youth initiatives and publish 50 to 60 lines in local pages. An identification system is in place with a journalist from a particular editorial department.
Since 2005, Ouest France has provided three annual prizes of 1 000 euros for the best youth contributions from each region and the articles are published in a special booklet.
Berliner Zeitung : « Youth and Education » programme
As part of the Youth and Education programme, Berliner Zeitung works with schools to inform young people about the media and active citizenship. The newspaper is given free of charge to participating classes for a year and teaching material is made available to teachers. Pupils are encouraged to write articles themselves, guided by a journalist, and these are published in a special Youth and Education page in the newspaper.
Classes that take part in the programme are automatically given a guided tour of the newspaper offices.
ZDF : Yes, there are some
The initiatives undertaken by the channel mainly concern the protecting minors.
The Irish Times : No real policy
Apart from free copies being given to schools or the use of student rates, the Irish Times has no media literacy policy.
Polskie Radio, kanal 3 : Individual
The station does not have a global media literacy strategy outside of regular visits to the offices, although journalists or presenters often go into schools to talk about their profession or the media. This is by invitation and on an individual basis.
BBC : A complete strategy
In June 2013 the BBC made public its new media educational strategy and has devoted a specific blog .
Having for a long time based education programmes on the passage to digital, the BBC has given this a new definition: “Media education will now mean helping the public to understand better how media functions, how to use it and also how it is created”.
There are several blogs, broadcast programmes and on-the-ground activities treating safety and the respect for private life on the internet: www.bbc.co.uk/webwise or the best way to use connected television www.bbc.co.uk/programmes .
The School Report campaign for 2013/2014 was launched and 400 schools are involved.
The BBC is also a partner in major international programmes for media education, e.g. safer internet day .
The Guardian : A specialised centre
Every morning, the Guardian’s Centre for Media education runs workshops for pupils aged 9-18, supervised by teachers. The pupils can produce the headline article for a newspaper or make videos.