With the advent of
the information society, the individual of today lives immersed in a world of
media messages. Seemingly, there are no limits to the amount of information
challenges are arising. Firstly, the new media offer countless sources of
information and in an unprecedented way allow anyone to send messages out into
the public space. It is becoming increasingly difficult to orient oneself in
the huge mass of information. Problems derive not merely from the sheer mass,
but from the very nature of communications. Media reality is not the
?real? reality. But, in a world dominated by media culture, the boundaries
between fact and fiction often become blurred.
children and young people, modern media and especially the Internet are more
than just a means of learning about the world. They are their world, their
?virtual reality?, where everything, the best and the worst, can be done
and undone. Young people often are much more eager than adults to handle new
technologies and are more at ease with them, whilst their discerning
capacities and their ability to make value-based judgements are not yet well
Teachers and parents are often helpless when trying to
reconcile their own living and professional experience with the media
experience of their children. Many adults find it increasingly difficult to
cope with the pervasive change brought about by modern communications.
On a broader scale, the media, by their nature, are
capable of influencing attitudes and behaviour in society. There is enough
evidence in Europe that free and independent media are a real power in
promoting democratic change, while in the hands of totalitarian forces they
can become tools for inciting ethnic hatred and imposing stereotypes. It is
also often claimed that there is a strong link between the increase in
violence in society and the violent images conveyed by television, the
Internet or computer games.
Globalisation and media convergence, along with all
the formidable possibilities that they offer, also give rise to new concerns:
the overflow of information; uniformisation caused by the unequivocal
dominance of one language and one culture over the new media; and increasing
commercialisation. There is also a serious risk of a new form of social
exclusion for those who cannot communicate through the media and/or are unable
to assess its content critically.
democracies have many tools at their disposal to respond to the challenges
posed by this changing society. The present situation, however, shows that
there is an urgent need also to develop more decisive and radical educational
measures promoting active, critical and discerning use of the media: in other
words, developing media education.
can be defined as teaching practices which aim to develop media competence,
understood as a
critical and discerning attitude towards the media in order to form
well-balanced citizens, capable of making their own judgements on the basis of
the available information. It enables them to access the necessary
information, to analyse it and be able to identify the economic, political,
social and/or cultural interests that lie behind it. Media education teaches
individuals to interpret and produce messages, to select the most appropriate
media for communicating and, eventually, to have a greater say in the media
offer and output.
allows people to exercise their right to freedom of expression and right to
information. It is not only beneficial for their personal development, but
also enhances participation and interactivity in society. In this sense it
prepares them for democratic citizenship and political awareness.
education is part of the curriculum in several European countries, its
practical application is still problematic, even as far as the traditional
media are concerned. Qualified teachers and teaching material are the basic
elements in media education and therefore constant attention should be paid to
both initial and continuing teacher education. Uncertainty also persists as to
the place media education should have in the curriculum, the methodology of
teaching, the objectives pursued and the evaluation of the results.
Furthermore, most schools have not yet adapted to an educational pattern where
both pupils and teachers place themselves in the situation of learners.
should be aimed both at the adults of today and of the future. It should not
only allow them to keep up with the pace of modern development, but also help
them to perform better their role as parents. In this sense it is vital to
develop media education as part of the concept of life-long learning. Such
non-formal education should be given more means and the work of the relevant
NGOs should be facilitated in line with Assembly Recommendation 1437 (2000) on
It is also
essential to seek the co-operation and the involvement of media professionals.
They should in particular be encouraged to produce high quality educational
and cultural programmes.
therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
consider media education as an important area for the work of its competent
bodies in the fields of education for democratic citizenship, new information
technologies and non-formal education, along the lines set up in the
above-mentioned Assembly recommendation;
ensure a co-ordinated, inter-sectoral approach to this issue;
examine existing practices in media education in member states with a
view to promoting the most successful of them;
promote an integrated European approach to media education, possibly
through the creation of an international office for media education,
responsible for co-ordination and networking, in close co-operation with other
international organisations such as the European Union and Unesco.
Committee of Ministers should also call on governments and the appropriate
authorities of member states to:
encourage the elaboration and the development of media literacy programmes
for children, adolescents and adults;
promote the elaboration and the development of teacher training programmes
in the field of media education;
involve educational bodies, parents' organisations, media professionals,
Internet service providers, NGOs, and so on, in an active dialogue on these
examine ways of sustaining an offer of educational programmes by the
different media that is satisfactory in both quantitative and qualitative
terms, and of promoting media education in them.
Assembly debate on 27 June 2000 (19th Sitting) (see Doc. 8753,
report of the Committee on Culture and Education, rapporteur: Mrs
Isohookana-Asunmaa). Text adopted by the Assembly on 27 June 2000 (19th Sitting).