CIRCA:Brian O'Niell's “Media Literacy and Communication Rights: Ethical Individualism in the New Media Environment.”

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O’Niell, Brian. “Media Literacy and Communication Rights: Ethical Individualism in the New Media Environment.” International Communication Gazette 72.4(2010): 323-38.

O’Niell’s article examines European Media Policy, which far surpasses the United States’, and its promotion of “media literacy” to bridge the gap between a digital-literate (socially cohesive and democratic) society versus a digital-illiterate (“atomized” and disadvantaged) society. The primary goal of these media policies, such as UNESCO’s Declaration on Media Education (1982), is to create “critical autonomous” citizens, who, being digital-literate, are better equipped to comprehend and actively engage in all aspects of society and culture, and consequently make informed decisions. This encouragement of self-improvement marks a shift from collective forms of [information] regulation towards ethical individualism. Of particular interest, given our concerns surrounding academic practices of digitization and the need for technical and ethical guidelines, is the Council of Europe’s ICT infrastructure. It outlines common standards providing a legal framework, both self- and co-regulatory systems, and suggests methods to increase policy efficacy by swift responsiveness to technological changes, without jeopardizing the rule of law or human rights. In summation, international efforts to enhance “media literacy” seek to promote democratic principles of equality, accountability, and accessibility. This proves challenging, however, given the vagueness of the term “media literacy,” its empirical elusiveness, and the fact that it is constantly changing.

Please note: The idea of the digital gap is also taken up by Ronald Niezen in his 2005 article: “Digital Identity: The Construction of Virtual Selfhood in the Indigenous Peoples' Movement.” See Chiao Chun’s abstract.

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