Our time is characterised by intense consumption of media content and information overload. In Latvia the media and any member of the public can freely express various opinions and participate in public debate which is an integral part of a democratic society. In addition, owing to global communication networks, Latvia is not in an isolated information space – we can also have access to the media in other countries and consume the content they distribute.
This situation creates both a lot of great opportunities as well as challenges for media consumers. It is neither easy, nor simple to navigate in the huge information mass where various economic and political interests, and sometimes a simple greed for cheap popularity mix and fight for the attention of the audience. In order not to get lost in this information cocktail, skills are required called media literacy* and information literacy**.
Therefore in the summer 2016 Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences joined the organisations in Latvia that are committed to actively improving the information and media literacy skills in the Latvian society. The launch of a specific section on our website is part of the initiative on media and information literacy implemented in Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences. This initiative includes a range of activities, including training for secondary school students, teachers and other target groups beginning in 2017, as well as the content development of the existing study programmes and the creation of a new programme in the Communication and Media study field. One of our long-term goals is to promote the skills of the audience to analytically and critically assess the information provided by the media. Another goal is to create a high-quality media content and promote the consumption of evidence-based information. Therefore, both in this webpage section and in various other media you will find the content generated by the participants of our initiative aimed at dispelling the myths existing in the public space and educating the public on media and information issues. The complex history of Latvia, especially the history of the 20th century, has provided ground for a variety of myths and assumptions, and their assessment will be one of the topics we will address.
We do not want to be a voice crying in the wilderness, rather the contrary: we believe that a meaningful discussion is one of the ways to create understanding on the importance of information and media literacy in today’s society. Therefore, questions and comments related to the media literacy initiative at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences can be expressed by writing an email to [email protected].
*Media literacy – knowledge and skills needed to work with information sources – for finding and analysing information, understanding functions of information providers, critically analysing the information content, distinguishing between biased and objective information, and comparing the news available from different sources in order to form a reasoned opinion of your own. Media literacy also includes the ability to practically use the media (Latvian media policy guidelines 2016 – 2020).
**Information literacy - refers to the ability to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate, effectively use and communicate information in its various formats. (Wilson, C. [etc.]. (2011). Media and information literacy: Curriculum for teachers. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.