The past decade has seen a marked decline in trust in institutions, businesses, and the media. At the same time, the world has witnessed a rise in disinformation, fake news, and alternative facts. It’s no coincidence. A RAND research report published in 2019 notes, "Truth Decay—the diminishing role that facts, data, and analysis play in political and civil discourse—appears to result, in part, from an increasingly complex information ecosystem. Technology, in particular, offers continual access to information of varying quality and credibility, information that can blur the line between fact-based evidence and opinion. Not everyone is equipped with the skills necessary to navigate such uncertain terrain.”
But people worldwide are hungry for change, and according to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, “This urgent desire for change is driving a renewed interest in fact-finding, leading to a stunning rise in consumption and sharing of news, up 22 points in a year to 72 percent.”Verifying facts, however, falls short in addressing a bigger issue—media literacy (or the lack of it). That’s why we teamed up with Tessa Jolls, President and CEO of the Center for Media Literacy, for the whitepaper, “Building a Pathway to Trust through Media Literacy.”
How can media literacy help?
At its most simple, media literacy is the ability to understand the messages delivered across many types of media. You may have noticed schools introducing media literacy programs to help children better deconstruct and evaluate advertising, news and even the memes that permeate their digital lives.
Alan Miller, Founder and CEO of the News Literacy Project explains, “In this age, everybody is their own editor. Everybody can be their own publisher. We want them to play those roles in ways that are credible and responsible and empower their voices.” But media literacy has value beyond classrooms; within corporate settings,improved media literacy can yield clear benefits.
Conducting business research—Whether you’re conducting research to capture business intelligence, to support SWOT analysis, or to understand emerging risks, you need to see the whole picture. And that’s not something you can do with only a fraction of the facts.
Disseminating research findings across different audiences—By understanding what these audiences bring to the table—be it a marketing team, product development team or the C-suite—you’re better positioned to construct meaningful reports and presentations that speak to readers’ needs and expectations.
Supporting high-quality journalism—While publishers have admittedly struggled to adapt to the evolving media landscape, one of the biggest issues media companies face is rebuilding trust. When news consumers have better media literacy skills, they’re empowered to identify the purpose of content and how their own backgrounds, lifestyles and biases influence the interpretation of content. Likewise, media literacy enables thoughtful construction of content to help build up trust in media.