Media literacy and the challenge of new information and communication technologies
Within both academic and policy discourses, the concept of media literacy is being extended from its traditional focus on print and audiovisual media to encompass the internet and other new media. The present article addresses three central questions currently facing the public, policy-makers and academy: What is media literacy? How is it changing? And what are the uses of literacy? The article begins with a definition: media literacy is the ability to access, analyse, evaluate and create messages across a variety of contexts. This four-component model is then examined for its applicability to the internet. Having advocated this skills-based approach to media literacy in relation to the internet, the article identifies some outstanding issues for new media literacy crucial to any policy of promoting media literacy among the population. The outcome is to extend our understanding of media literacy so as to encompass the historically and culturally conditioned relationship among three processes: (i) the symbolic and material representation of knowledge, culture and values; (ii) the diffusion of interpretative skills and abilities across a (stratified) population; and (iii) the institutional, especially, the state management of the power that access to and skilled use of knowledge brings to those who are 'literate'.