Three Nordic countries are now expanding their media literacy initiatives – from focusing on children and young people’s media skills to include all citizens, irrespective of age. For strengthening democracy and freedom of expression, media and information literacy (MIL) is identified as an increasingly important means.
Since June, the Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish Governments have taken initiatives to increase MIL among all citizens – regarding it as lifelong learning. The Swedish initiatives are rooted in a knowledge overview about MIL by UNESCO Professor Ulla Carlsson, published by Nordicom on behalf of the Ministry of Culture. MIL in Finland and Norway is also covered in the report.
Finland: New media policy programme to strengthen MIL
Strengthening MIL, and counteracting disinformation and networking, are two goals in the Government's Media Policy Programme 2019-2023. Among the measures are: updating the National Policy Guidelines 2013-2016 for media literacy; directing efforts concerning new groups such as adults and special groups; and accentuating MIL in the education of professionals, especially teachers and other educators. Actions against hate speech are to be reviewed within the framework of the National Action Plan on Fundamental and Human Rights.
Norway: MIL - a priority area for the Media Authority
In the Norwegian Media Authority’s regulation letter for 2018, MIL is emphasized as one of the most important initiatives for 2018. According to a new strategic plan (in Norwegian), the Media Authority's MIL actions, previously limited to children and young people, should promote democracy and freedom of expression through supporting media diversity and critical media understanding in the whole population; i.e., the authority has the task to guide all sectors of the population to increase media literacy.
Sweden: Two new national MIL initiatives
In August, the Swedish Government decided on a national initiative to increase MIL (Swedish), commissioned to a special investigator, to increase people's resilience to disinformation, propaganda, and hate speech online.
As there is also a need for an authority with a permanent task to work long-term with MIL, the Government has commissioned the Swedish Media Council (in Swedish) to develop "forms of enhanced cooperation of efforts for MIL". The two government assignments are to be reported on in October 2020 and May 2019, respectively.
MIL is also included in a national strategy for a strong democracy (in Swedish) decided by the Government on 20 June. The strategy states that, ultimately, MIL is about maintaining a sustainable democracy and safeguarding the respect for freedom of expression; it also makes reference to a future MIL organization.
MIL in the digital age – a knowledge overview (published in Swedish)
This publication about MIL in a digital age maps MIL initiatives and actors in Sweden. Furthermore, it explores today’s media culture, the MIL concept and current research on MIL, as well as best practices (in public service media, in libraries, education, etc). The report also describes the MIL work in Finland, Norway and Ireland, and on the European and international levels.
The editor of the report, published by Nordicom in August, is Ulla Carlsson, Professor and UNESCO Chair on Freedom of Expression.
In May, the report served as the basis for a MIL conference, organized by the UNESCO Professorship at the University of Gothenburg and the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO in order to discuss and find models to promote media and information skills based on a democracy perspective. During the conference, with a broad participation of actors and four government ministers, the conclusions from the knowledge overview were presented, traces of which can also be found in a national strategy for a strong democracy decided by the government on 20 June, see above.