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Media Literacy in the Middle East

Wednesday 2 March 2016, by SIGNIS

Brussels, March, 2nd, 2016 (Julie Gray/Huffington Post/SIGNIS). “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003”. Eric Schmidt, Techcrunch. Nowadays, there are more and more information around us. Facebook, Twitter, news websites, television…

If it is good to have access to a lot of information, the bad side of this is that “the lines between entertainment, information and advertising are indistinguishable and this leads to some important ethical questions such as - shouldn’t all this media come with a user guide? Who will teach the youth born into this media stuffed age how to think about what they consume? Where are the student driver teachers on the information highway?”

The need for media literacy seems to be understood in most developed countries, but in the Middle East, it has yet to come.

As Julie Gray said in the Huffington post : “in the Middle East, media scrutiny of various conflicts is intense and local journalism is, most times, dubious. Add to this mix an empathy fatigued world starring unfettered bias and introducing red hot political correctness and pair that with sporadic, convulsive violence and a generation of youth largely made silent by poverty, despair, exhaustion, despotic leaders and - well - kaboom.”

Of course, it is impossible to decide what media is created, shared and consumed. But, she says, “we can proffer youth in this region the tools they need to think critically about the storyline and pen new narratives that lead to a better place. We have to give them that chance.”

It would be great for youth living in this region to know the basics of media literacy, if they could learn the power and the impact media has on everything. She continues : “Today’s vulnerable, media illiterate, hopeless teenager is tomorrow’s terrorist. Or tomorrow’s entrepreneur, innovator or leader. “

This is why, in partnership with the Israeli Palestinian Creative Regional Initiative (IPCRI), and University of Chicago Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Middle East Media Literacy Initiative (MEMLI) will be launching soon a pilot program in the West Bank/Palestine, in order to help young people know more about the media.

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