What is Media Literacy?

Media Literacy is an umbrella concept that refers to a set of competencies, skills and knowledge necessary for everyone to participate in the media culture.

Media literacy can be divided into two main areas:

Critical Awareness

Media literate citizens should be able to critically analyse the media environment in order to make informed choices. This involves:

– Understanding how media messages are constructed through different languages, codes and symbolic representations of reality;

– Recognizing different content types, such as news articles, advertising and editorials;

– Understanding political, economic and regulatory environments involved in media production;  

– Assessing the reliability and truthfulness of the information and news they consume and share;

– Making informed choices about the use and protection of personal data, especially when online;

– Recognizing both benefits and risks involved in the use of online platforms, such as social media websites;

– Understanding how the media shapes the way they view the world and influences their behaviour and attitudes.

Creative Participation

Media literacy opens many opportunities for everyone to create media artefacts – blogs, video, animation, games etc. – and effectively participate in the media culture. This involves:

– Engaging with digital media for personal or group expression;

– Being able to create content and media artefacts through different modes of communication – text, image, video, audio – and symbolic representations;

– Understanding their own culture and using popular culture references to construct media messages and engage in online conversations;

– Using media production to foster their creativity and digital skills;

– Making the most of online learning opportunities.


Ireland is still at the early stage of implementing media literacy education in the country. In 2016, the BAI (Broadcast Authority of Ireland) took a very important step to improve this situation by launching the first Media Literacy Policy for Ireland, which sets out a number of competences and skills required for anyone who wants to be media literate. Soon afterwards, a Media Literacy Ireland network was put together involving people from academia, industry and civil society to articulate ideas and implement actions that will support the promotion of media literacy across the country. 

In 2019, Media Literacy Ireland launched Be Media Smart, a national campaign on Media Literacy that lasted for 2 weeks and was supported by a number of important organisations across the country. More initiatives like that will follow in the coming years to promote the importance of Media Literacy Education and raise people’s media awareness in Ireland.

Learn more about the Media Literacy Policy, the Media Literacy Ireland network and the Be Media Smart campaign.

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