Common Criticism Is Part of Media Literacy

[THU FEB 2 2017; A2; ’Medialukutaitoon kuuluu terve kyseenalaistaminen,’ Pauli Uusi-Kilponen]

 

The media hasn’t only been going through changes, it’s been revolutionized. Recipients of information have also become distributors of it. Lies can be difficult to single out from the massive amounts of data.

 

During the School Newspaper Week, Finnish scools are sinking their teeth into a very vital matter, that of critical media literacy.

Don’t believe everything you hear, see, or read in the media. Not everything that wears the convincing guise of truth is what it seems.

Example of the day: Yle reported news that the Finnish defence forces have secret instructions on how to treat those with double nationality in Finland and Russia. The Finnish Defence Command and the Ministry of Defence both denied it. – So what is the truth?

One begins to suspect Yle has become a target of opinion forming, or trolling, which is an integral part of modern international politics. However, not everything can be told at once. Media literacy also entails patience: sometimes getting to the truth takes time.

 

The Internet spreads information far and wide, fast and inexpensively. It wouldn’t be a problem for edited journalism if people didn’t leave facts unchecked and make rash decisions based on the speed required and the stiff competition.

The media revolution has made journalism an even more competitive business, in which traditional media companies have had to review their procedures to face financial realities. The area in which to succeed financially has become even smaller.

Because of social media, the passive recipients of information have also become creators and distributors of it. However, viewpoints can get dangerously narrow – along with world views and senses of proportion.

 

Traditional media is going through a crisis, but it still retains its major strengths. In edited journalism, work is done for the recipient: only reviewed and reliable information is published, with no opinions being injected into news. That work can’t be done for free.

It’s a part of Finnish freedom of speech for the media to be as independent as possible. People could finally relax after the discussion about freedom of speech concerning the actions of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä: no government official is above criticism.

Talks of an ”overpowering media” can be deemed as politically motivated. Information is of course a tool for power and influence. That’s exactly what brings great responsibility to media. And in Finland, media can be relied on, for the time being. People do trust the media, but that trust has to be earned every single day.

 

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