As centers for lifelong learning, libraries have always been resources for helping communities develop media literacy skills. Nowadays, when we increasingly rely on digital media for information and communication, these critical thinking skills are more important than ever. Media literacy is one of the topics included in Biblio project`s training modules of community engagement and communication officer (CECO).
More and more attention is being paid to media literacy. This is also being considered at national level. We offer current information on media literacy in one of the Biblio project countries – in Latvia.
The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia in cooperation with the market and social research agency “Latvijas Fakti” in the second half of 2020 conducted a media literacy study of the residents of Latvia. The study results show the growing interest of Latvian citizens in media literacy or the ability to critically evaluate information provided by the media, recognizing reliable information from fake news. In 2020, the majority of study participants have expressed interest in media literacy – 58%, that is 23% more than in 2017.
Over the past three years, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia has focused on working with media mentors, developing media-promoting campaigns and training materials, as well as providing support for the promotion of media literacy among young people. There are 200 teachers and 500 librarians trained in media literacy. The funding available from the state budget is on average EUR 20,000 per year to facilitate media literacy of Latvian society. Of course, this amount is not sufficient and should be increased. In future, work should be continued in destructing lies, in media criticism, and in promoting media literacy.
According to the results of the study, as the amount of information grows, there is also a growing public concern or self-assessment of the ability to recognize reliable information from being misleading. 18% of the Latvian people surveyed critically evaluate their ability to recognize reliable information from misleading. They pointed out that there is a lack of competence in this matter. This is 7% more compared to 2017.
29% of those surveyed have negative media experience as they did not recognize false information or understood it only later. This is 7% more than in 2017.
As three years ago, the current highest expectations of the Latvian inhabitants regarding the strengthening of media literacy are directed towards the media – TV, radio, internet, and printed media. 43% of respondents would be happy to receive information from the media themselves to critically assess the information provided by the media. These are followed by educational institutions – 13%, libraries – 9%, seminars and conferences – 8% and other public events – 7%.
Based on these indicators, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia will continue to use the available funding to promote media literacy by stimulating the creation of journalism projects with a view to improving public media literacy. Educational institutions should also work not only to improve pupils’ digital skills, but also to improve media literacy.
In 2021 the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia will continue to work with media mentors – educators, librarians and other community groups in media literacy. Information campaigns will be carried out and various media literacy materials will be developed.
Latvian society is characterized by a high level of trust in social media, and this trust is growing. The most popular news and news media in Latvia are Latvian public television and the internet portal Delfi. Latvian Radio is also a leader in public confidence in its market segment.
The study “Media literacy of Latvian residents” was carried out between 9 October and 19 October by the market and social research agency “Latvijas Fakti”. The study is published on the website of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia.