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Critical Media Literacy: Who Needs It? - Friday 20/Saturday 21 October

Posted: 12 October, 2017

An expert on politics, media and gaming who has been hailed as Britain’s ‘digital guru’ will be the keynote speaker at a Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) conference taking place on Friday 20/Saturday 21 October.

Dr Richard Barbrook, senior lecturer at the University of Westminster and author of numerous studies of digital communications – including The Californian Ideology, a pioneering critique published more than two decades ago – will address the opening session of ‘Critical Media Literacy: Who Needs It?’, a two-day event launching a new centre for research and outreach in critical media literacy at DIT.

The conference will feature a full programme of more than 30 presentations, including an address from one of the world’s leading experts on young people and media, Professor David Buckingham, who will speak on the mistakes made and lessons learned in implementing ‘media literacy’ policy in Britain.

The keynote speech comes just as Dr Barbrook, author of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Digital Democracy Manifesto’ in 2016, takes up a new role with the UK Labour Party as Digital Strategy and Gaming Consultant, advising the party on how to win power in the next election and how to wield it democratically using online tools.  His talk will be followed by responses from Niamh Sweeney, Head of Policy at Facebook Ireland, and media-literacy consultant Martina Chapman, who has led media-literacy projects at the BBC, Ofcom and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. Professor Brian O’Neill, Director of Research, Enterprise and Innovation Services at DIT will chair the event.

Dr Harry Browne, School of Media at DIT says the conference will examine what it means to foster critical media literacy in an era of social media “filter bubbles”. “Long before we started fretting about ‘fake news’, many media institutions faced crises of confidence, credibility and commercial sustainability,” Browne said. “It’s important to understand media literacy as something more than trying to restore trust in mainstream media, more than putting the onus on audiences to critically assess their Facebook feed – it’s also about creatively exploring alternatives.”

“DIT has established the Centre for Critical Media Literacy to facilitate a range of media research, production, learning and community engagement. The big online players have their own initiatives in this area – for example, Facebook and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism recently launched a ‘lab’ to examine media literacy, while Google funds a Canadian news-literacy programme for young people. However, we think an educational institution likes ours, with graduates throughout the media and its base in Dublin’s inner city, has an important role in promoting equality, diversity and accessibility.” 

This conference is jointly organised by Dr Harry Browne, School of Media, and Deborah Brennan, School of Multidisciplinary Technologies, along with Dr Olivia Freeman and Dr Brendan O’Rourke from the School of Marketing. It will bring together policy, community and scholarly perspectives, with papers from a diverse range of pertinent subject areas, including social media, affective networking, changing news discourses, online privacy and surveillance, new and evolving cultural forms and formations, media education/pedagogy, access/engagement, and computing for social and information networks. Themed sessions will include the critical understanding of ‘experts’; media literacy as a classroom subject; and the ‘computational turn’ in the creation and understanding of media phenomena.

Registration is not required for the free Friday-evening session of the conference featuring Dr Richard Barbrook, which starts at 6 pm and takes place in DIT Aungier Street. See www.criticalmedialiteracy.org to learn more about the conference and to register to attend sessions on Saturday.