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Sep 15, 2020

What does Media Literacy Mean?

Fake news versus facts: that was the topic of a media literacy event earlier today. Now, fake news is not the best term to be used in relation to news because news in itself is about facts and truth.  Real news is also about accurate information presented to the public on a number of issues.  But as technology evolves and new digital platforms emerge, spreading fake news has become a national past time. So today’s event sought to differentiate the fake news from the facts. Here is Isani Cayetano with a report.



Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The ability to identify different types of media and the messages being sent, as well as an understanding of these various forms of information with a competence to make sense of what is presented is media literacy.  Over the past few years, technology has advanced to a point where we are bombarded by images, views, blogs and videos that seek to influence us to a particular way of thinking.  It is therefore, incumbent upon us as readers and viewers to consider the media objectively, with an aim to analyze what is being presented.


Keith Gilges

Keith Gilges, Charge d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy

“In Belize and nearly every country, the way information is researched, written, distributed and consumed has changed dramatically over the last twenty years.  Control of news content is no longer limited to traditional media houses through daily and weekly newspapers and radio and television broadcasts.  In the old days, we relied on these media institutions to take raw information and turn it into news.  They were our filters, we trusted them and usually we knew them.  With the introduction of new digital platforms available on the internet to anyone and easily accessible through mobile handheld technology, nearly every citizen has access to virtually unlimited sources of information, much of it unfiltered through the channels we were use to.”


Digital media, as it is known, can be created, viewed, distributed, modified and stored on electronic devices and refers to any information that is broadcast to us through a screen.


Audrey Wallace

Audrey Wallace, C.E.O., Office of the Prime Minister

“The very nature of digital media facilitates its dominance in today’s communications.  Firstly, the tools to create digital media are now in the hands of billions of people via smart phones.  Secondly, fiber optic and satellite technology facilitate lightning speed transmission across the globe.  Finally, our photos, voice recordings, videos can be manipulated very easily to enhance or distort the information that we captured.  To summarize, digital media is everywhere.”


Despite its ubiquity, there is a negative aspect to digital media.  When compared with print and mass media, and other analog technologies, the quality of digital media has led to significant changes in many areas, including journalism, publishing and education.


Audrey Wallace

“There is, unfortunately, a sinister side to this technology which is now being exploited to propagate lies, to slander and to influence democratic elections using fake news.  In Belize, we know that independent journalism has played an invaluable role in protecting democracy by holding public agencies accountable with the simple act of sharing information.  Now, the phenomenon of fake news is infiltrating journalism everywhere, thereby eroding one of the pillars of our democracy.  We’re having this discussion about the potential dangers of digital media at a critical time.  It is critical for two reasons.  Firstly, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our dependency on digital media has grown significantly.  We now depend on it to conduct our daily work, to connect our friends and family and to stay informed with the latest updates on the pandemic.”


Emerging media, as it is also known, can empower or hinder and inform and engaged citizenry.  Separately, digital media has become an important part of citizens’ political life as a growing number of people around the world use digital media technology for information and communication.  Together, digital media also comprises an integral platform which can be used to facilitate socio-political issues that create concern over the sharing of information, its divide and political polarization.


Remus Li-Kuo Chen

Remus Li-Kuo Chen, Taiwanese Ambassador

“Disinformation and misleading content formed by hostile actors, externally or domestically, sometimes spread faster than facts.  In many cases they even spread faster than our immediate response for clarification.  For many years, Taiwan has been facing the threat from its neighbour, not only by military coercion but also by coordinated attacks of fake news targeting selected audience or the general public to sow the seeds of discord in our society, disrupt our ways of life and degrade our democratic process.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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