Acquiring literacy in the new media ecosystem

Let’s put it this way: today’s media do not enjoy good press. Neither classic media – traditional newspapers – nor social media, although, to be fair, social media have enjoyed a moment of particular favour for some years.

In fact, social media embodied the utopia of democratic, horizontal, self-produced and shared information. Information that is richer and also less easily subject – so it seemed – to economic and political pressures. A positive image, one that included the contribution of the fact that the major players in the sector are rooted – in terms of both history and industry – in California, an area that is a symbol of free thinking and counterculture.

Then the wind changed for them too. Topics such as fake news, algorithm domination, data breaches, lack of transparency have opened many people’s eyes and today attitudes towards social media have become more critical. This is certainly nothing new. Even in other eras, technological innovations that were initially acclaimed as positive have since undergone critical phases. After all, when new media appear, it is always a question of defining, from scratch, those rules that will govern the new ecosystem. Therefore, affirming new equilibriums, and identifying new safeguards for citizens. Because one thing is certain: information is a precious commodity, one that requires high production costs and which must be protected and safeguarded in the interests of everyone.

Today the media industry and the media (which includes us, as potential producers of information) are looking for new forms of social and economic sustainability. This stimulating challenge also requires that we gear ourselves up to understand and manage the new reality: from learning to protect our privacy to getting used to reasoning in terms of fact-checking; from protecting ourselves from online fraud to preventing identity theft; from acquiring literacy in the new media context to limiting addiction, including psychological dependency.

In other words, this means learning to make the most of a constantly evolving digital world that sometimes does not seem to respect the rules, or upends those we were used to, but which is now an integral part of our present and our future.