Today, the information reaching individuals around the world continues to increase dramatically. However, the question remains: how can people access, research, rate, use, and contribute meaningfully to this content, both online and offline?
With the current ecosystem of complex and conflicting messages and meanings, it is important that society is endowed with knowledge-based literacy skills to understand the issues, and to contribute and benefit from information and communication opportunities for a better life. peaceful society. Information providers and recipients must be equipped with media and information literacy skills to facilitate communication and availability of the right information and to mitigate threats of disinformation.
As part of its program to promote a peaceful society, UNESCO and key stakeholders annually commemorate World Media and Information Literacy Week to unite various actors committed to promoting media literacy and information (MIL) as a means of fostering social inclusion and intercultural dialogue.
This year marks 10 years since the seeds of Global Media and Information Literacy Week were planted in 2011 in Fez, Morocco. This was long before the exponential rise in disinformation, political polarization, the growing influence of digital platforms and the COVID-19 pandemic. Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2021 was organized by South Africa with the theme “Media and information literacy for the public good”.
The UNESCO Regional Office in Abuja also commemorated this noble day with a webinar on October 26, 2021. Media and information literacy stakeholders in Nigeria were invited to discuss how best to mitigate the challenges faced with disinformation and lack of information. The infodemic observed following the COVID-19 pandemic makes the importance of such a webinar all the more relevant.
In his welcome speech, the Director of Dakar Regional Office and OIC, Abuja Regional Office, Mr. Dimitri SANGA reminded stakeholders of the importance of media and information literacy, which should be seen as a sustainable solution to building public resilience and advancing the role of information as a public good.
The representative of the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Buki Ponle, Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria News Agency, declared that “the media are a real instrument for the promotion of the public good” . He added: “The challenge for the media is to help and nurture Nigeria’s nascent democracy by upholding the code of ethics of the journalistic profession, which includes the promotion of truth and accuracy.”
The webinar, which was organized in partnership with the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) and the African Center for Media and Information Literacy (AFRIMIL), brought together more than 100 participants from the government, media partners, academia, CSOs and other partners, who engaged in a lively discussion after the presentation of the two speakers’ paper.
Chido Onumah, AFRICMIL coordinator, speaking on the theme of the year, said: “Media and information literacy serves a plethora of purposes, the most important of which is the creation of a environment for dialogue and peaceful coexistence. MIL serves as an antidote to the disinformation and disinformation, which fueled the social crisis, especially in the event of a pandemic ”. He added: “The information we consume has a direct effect on how we manage interpersonal relationships and coexistence within and between communities.” Thus, “media and information literacy is a public good and as a public good it needs public support”.
In his diary, Building public trust amid the complexity of media in the Internet ageAbigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, Professor of Mass Communication at the University of Lagos, said: “The fight against fake news is a fight to ensure that the truth is spread and that there is no undue influence in cyberspace. Citizens must be given the right mindset on how to communicate online, access and analyze information disseminated by the media. A media literate citizen will be equipped to interpret, create and act critically on media messages ”.
At the end of the webinar, participants agreed on the need for more effort to equip society with media and information literacy skills to better understand the issues and contribute to a peaceful society.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
© Press release 2021