Media literacy in the era of Web Journalism
Lakachew Atinafu 10-26-18
In the 21st century media culture, countries across the globe gave due emphasis for the profession of journalism in the context of its importance that the con current world required of. Some nation incorporated media literacy in their curriculum and gained astonishing results. In precise terms, since media has a power to stroke emotion and arose imagination governments have begun to equipped their people with the ability to access analyze evaluate and create media in variety of forms.
In citizens of democracy, the necessity to provide a frame work which access, analyze, evaluate and create media in variety of forms print to video to the internet is a crucial mater. Because advancement of technology and scientific innovation made the world a journalist regardless of conveying accurate, clear and balanced messages. The unlimited ownership of every literate citizen to media outlet framework, led us to the era of citizen journalism where everyone is a “pro- sumer”, producer and consumer of information at the same time.
Due to the current influx of new technology and globalization and the rapid growth of digital journalism, irresponsibility and abuse of social media is frequently observed particularly on the use of face book. Bigotry, hater speech and provocation of turmoil dominated the platform which in turn leads people to question it if it is a weapon to unity or hate. Considerable number of people uses social media mainly to seek social currency though one cannot deny that the media played its part in producing a better word.
It has become uncommon to look people who only to impose their own outlook, ideology, belief upon others. The situation will be worst as one can see it from the context of Ethiopia where diverse nation, nationalities and people comprise the entire state. Presently, hate speech, hostility and boycott are subjects entertained in social media as if such practices are solution for a country fighting with poverty. An individual with smart phone can convey message regardless of occupational safety and without limitation of special variation and time.
These days in developing nation like Ethiopia where there is no efficient legal frame work which govern, regulate, criminalize and prosecute the abuse of social media, media illiterates are posing all-round threats upon the overall lives of their respective counties.
Unlike advanced nations who take advantage of scientific innovations, significant number of people in Ethiopia are being observed as principal actors of instigating chaos, conflict on the basis of ethnicity, religion among others sensitive subjects.
In Ethiopia, governments, media educators, law enforcing bodies seemed to have forgotten the adverse impact of abusing social media. This must be corrected soon since the contemporary form of journalisms editorial content is distributed via the internet as opposed to publishing via print or broadcast. The country has paid a lot in the recent sub sequent years following biased messages conveyed through digital media. Lots of displaced, lost their lives, properties devastated.
Apart from being a headache to maintain stability and keep law and order, the abuse of social media become a favorable plat form for illegal brokers to expand grave human right violation like human trafficking and commercial sex.
Cognizant of the afore mentioned facts, the government of Ethiopia along with stake holders, the entire nation from all wakes of life need to understand and create a media literate society which builds an understanding the role of media in a society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of democracy.
Media literacy is one of the notable concepts which are used to equip citizens with the knowledge needed to understand about the media. Media literacy, according to Sonia Livingstone, one of the leading professors in the field, is all about the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create messages across a variety of contexts. It is not about teaching via the media but prior to that, teaching about the media. Its ultimate goal is ensuring that citizens have adequate knowledge about how the media works, verifying the reality about what is being written or broadcasted and, rethinking about consequences before sharing information.
The use of digital media among societies with poor knowledge or ignorant of media literacy is the nation’s big challenge more particularly for countries like Ethiopia, which has been striving to get rid of poverty setting out stretched goal. Besides, our multiculturalism nature, the fact that we live in the digital age and the fact that democracy is under inception level; all made the need to media literacy an exigent one.
The government of Ethiopia should invest highly in education incorporating media literacy as a common course for learners in every discipline as educating nation is the most effective method in behavioral change. However, the course is not being given for journalism and communication majoring students. This may include employing the proper professionals who have the pre request knowledge, initiative, charisma of journalism. On top of that, school mini media clubs may also focus on media literacy concepts.
As studies conducted on the abuse of social media are not sufficient enough, the establishment of strong institutes which access identify investigate the scope magnitude depth of the subject and find possible solution should prioritize task of the government.
Statesmen are also advised to give recognition for those who strived to contribute something better for the wellbeing of nations via social media. Software developers are also urged to devise applications which control and prevent offenders in digital media.
Mass prohibition has been tried in Ethiopia for days though it was not appropriate. We have also witnessed where shutting down internet connection was taken as a solution in multiple of chaotic incidents. However, law making bodies should not remain passive. They should legislate new law that could be applicable in criminalizing, prosecuting proactive messages conveyed via social media.
Finally, to combat the abuse of social media should not left to the government alone; it is a duty of all of us in to mobilize all personal and material resource. For this reason, let’s unlearn the abuse of social media, learn and relearn its application for better deeds.