TV screens in supermarkets, airports, train stations, mobile tv and radio apps, social networks. Political, religious and economic groups are using these technologies to directly and indirectly influence our values, the way we see ourselves and others, and what is important for us as individuals and social groups. Today’s citizens, old and young, are exposed to these media messages constantly. The most difficult task for all of us is how to make sense of this information overload.
Media Literacy has been recognised as an important component of adult education since 2009, when the European Commission asked EU member states to include media education in their compulsory curricula to help EU citizens become more active users of new media and increase their awareness of potential risks, such as privacy breeches or hidden advertisements.
The Commission considers media illiteracy as a new form of social exclusion and therefore is pushing member states to narrow the gaps that the development of new technologies are creating between generations and between people with different economic or social backgrounds.
The links between community media and media literacy were recognised by the European Parliament in its resolution of 25 September 2008 on Community Media in Europe (2008/2011(INI)), where in point 4 of the resolution states “community media can play a significant role in training programmes involving external organisations, including universities, and unskilled community members, and act as a valuable hub for work experience; points out that training people in digital, web and editorial skills through their participation in community media activities provides useful and transferable skills”; while point number 6 “considers that community media contribute to the goal of improving citizens' media literacy through their direct involvement in the creation and distribution of content and encourages school-based community outlets to develop a civic attitude among the young, to increase media literacy, as well as to build up a set of skills that could be further used for community media participation”.
In that spirit, a group of community radio stations in Europe decided to put together a toolkit that would allow community radio trainers to deliver media literacy training to citizens, either as a stand-alone subject or integrated in the general radio training. This is how the Understanding Media Toolbox came into being http://toolbox.understanding-media.eu/
The project Understanding Media for Active Citizenship (funded by the Erasmus + fund through Irish National Agency, Léargas) concludes in October 2017. It aims to examine the concept of Media Literacy in Europe, how it has been defined by academia and at European institutional level. It also aims to examine the experience of community radio. We are exploring how it has been -or could be- embedded in the training curriculum being delivered by community media so as to promote better understanding of how to ‘read’ the media among citizens, but also how to ‘write’ more informative and balanced content in the shape of media literacy broadcasting products- in order to promote equality, pluralism and diversity, and to increase active citizenship actions through media. Currently, activities are available in Magyar, Suomi, English, French, German and Czech. Basque and Spanish translations will be available this summer.
Participation in this Erasmus+ project has allowed us to share resources, expertise and experiences. It was very important for the partners to keep very defined responsibilities and deadlines, as well as a clear communication strategy that included on-line cloud storage (for transparency, all documents, including financial breakdown were available to all partners) and conference call tools, as at least 2-3 virtual meetings took place ahead of the transnational meetings.
The project partners are Radio Kultura (Hasparren, Basque Country), Freies Radio Wüste Welle (Tübingen, Germany), Radio Expert (Brno, Czech Republic), Tilos Radio (Budapest, Hungary), Radio Robin Hood (Turku, Finland) and the coordinating organisation is Near Media Co-op (Dublin, Ireland).
Near Media Co-op is a democratic not-for-profit media co-operative which uses media as a tool for community development. The Co-op was founded in 1982 and has over 600 shareholders and more than 120 regular volunteers.
Near Media Co-op encompasses Near FM, NearTV and NearOnline. Near FM helds a community radio license since 1995; we broadcast 24/7/365. NearTV productions, launched in 2006, produces television material featured on Dublin Community TV and on the web. Near Online is dedicated to the development of IT and new media literacy in the community. For more information see: www.near.ie
We have been involved as partners in numerous European Projects dealing with cultural identity and environmental issues, intercultural training and human rights programming and our track record is excellent. We deliver QQI Levels 3, 4 and 5, media literacy and intercultural training. We took part in the Socrates project Inter.media in 2006, a media training manual from an intercultural perspective, and the SMART project, which under the Leonardo Transfer of Innovation, created a radio training design tool with activities for general training and adapted activities and Tips for Trainers to work with three specific groups –people who are visually impaired/blind, people with learning difficulties and migrant women. Currently we are also involved in the projects YouEDIT (training of young editorial teams to produce current affairs radio programmes), EurEval (creation of a framework to evaluate the skills of community radio volunteers) and InclusionDes (best practice in the participation of migrants in media).
Sally Galiana has been involved in designing and organising training since she joined Near FM in 1997, and she has previous experience in training youth in the use of radio. She is one of the researchers of the Inter.media manual and she has delivered FETAC Level 4 and intercultural awareness training. She also has experience in training women learners with literacy problems. She has been Near FM's European Projects Coordinator in several projects. She has a degree in Journalism and a Master in International Relations, as well as a Train the Trainers certificate and a Media Analysis QQI certificate. She is a former president of AMARC Europe and former Treasurer of the Community Radio Forum of Ireland (CRAOL)
Project no. 2014-1-IE01-KA204000362