Dr. Drissia CHOUIT

Moulay Ismail University



Understanding Media and Information Literacy


Reading 2.3.

Key Concepts of Media and Information Literacy



Extract From:

Chouit Drissia: "Promoting Media and Information Literacy in Universities through Theory and Research". Paper presented at the International Seminar on Media and Information Literacy at the University Level, 19-20 June, 2012, Faculty of Arts and Humanities Fes-Sais, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, Fez, Morocco.



I. Media and Information Literacy Defined

From the literature on media literacy and information literacy (MIL) and teaching experience, we can come up with the following synthesis to define MIL. MIL refers to the ability to:[1]

  1. Identify accurately information needs;
  2. Develop appropriate research strategies to meet these needs;
  3. Locate efficiently media and information sources –both online and offline;
  4. Access media and information sources without wasting time;
  5. Classify these media and information sources;
  6. Analyze critically media and information arguments and decipher communication strategies;
  7. Evaluate the pertinence, reliability, and quality of media and information content;
  8. Store and document the relevant information;
  9. Synthesize this information and use it effectively and ethically;
  10. Create and communicate effectively media and information content according to the context, audience, and communication goals.
  11. Make this whole process both enjoyable and rewarding for academic achievement, personality development, social interaction, active citizenship, and professional fulfilment.


II. Basic Components of Media and Information Literacy

Media and information literacy can, therefore, be summarized as the ability to access, interpret, evaluate, and use effectively, ethically, and creatively media and information content in a variety of forms, including the use of information and communication technologies. This entails the ability to take informed decisions by applying critical thinking, rational analysis, and constructive scepticism when dealing with the various forms of media and information. A good starting point is to build a probing approach by always asking questions before deciding what to accept and what to reject[2]. These questions may be divided as follows:


II.1. Producer of the Message 

  • Who produced the message?
  • When was it produced?
  • Where was it produced?
  • Why was it produced?


II.2. Profit-Making (both in terms of money and power)

  • Who owns the company/corporation and/or exerts control on its programs and contents?
  • Who profits from the dissemination of this information?
  • Whose perspective is transmitted in the message?
  • Whose voices are discarded?


II.3. Target Audience

  • Who is specifically targeted by the message? Why?
  • What social, political, and/or economic constructs are transmitted in the message?
  • What techniques are used for audience consonance?


II.4. Message Interpretation[3]

  • Decoding Messages
    • Identifying the meaning of the message;
    • Reading between the lines and identifying hidden messages;
    • Identifying alternate interpretations of the same text;
    • Discriminating between:
      • fact and opinion,
      • information and propaganda,
      • news stories, editorials, and advertorials.
  • Message Appeals
    • Does the message address the intellect or emotions of audiences?
    • Does it create fear and anxiety or is it based on logic and evidence?
    • Does it respect citizens or does it mock their intelligence and treat them as "empty vessels"?
    • Which communication strategies are used to influence them?
  • Values and Attitudes
    • What values and attitudes are transmitted in the message? Why?
    • Does the message corroborate your attitudes and beliefs or does it aim to change them?
    • If the message tries to make you change your beliefs and attitudes:
        • What are the reasons for doing so?
        • What are the techniques used?
        • What are the possible impacts of the intended change on your personal and social life?
  • Sidedness of the Message
    • One-Sided versus Double-Sided/Multi-Sided Messages:

Messages presenting only one perspective and ignoring other perspectives should be considered with caution. On the contrary, double-sided/multi-sided messages are a sign of fairness.

  • Dogmatism and its serious implications: Dogmatic people stick rigidly to only one possible view, and discard all other possibilities as being wrong. Students must guard against this tendency which jeopardizes democracy and the basic human rights, including the right to be different and to have different beliefs, views, and attitudes.


  • Quality of Argumentation[4]
    • Is it a constructive argumentation?
      • Key Rules:
        • The argument should discuss ideas, not persons.
        • Attacking a person in his/her personality or self-esteem is unacceptable.
        • If the producer of information shows the capacity to think logically and rationally, and to use and interpret data fairly, this will make him/her credible.
    • Is it a well-founded argumentation?
      • Are arguments based on good evidence?
        • Facts
        • Statistics
        • Graphics
        • Reports
        • Views of Specialists in the Field
      • Is any part of the evidence refutable?
        • Methodology of Research
        • Grounding of Conclusions in the Text
        • Inconsistent Statements
        • Distortion of Evidence
        • Omission of Evidence
        • Unfair or Misuse of Information 
        • Other Experts' Views on the Subject
        • Line of Reasoning
      • Are there any flaws in reasoning?
        • False Logic
        • False Assumptions
        • False Analogies
        • Unfair Assumptions
        • Unfounded generalizations
        • Biased Attitudes
        • Stereotypes


  • Credibility of Information[5]
    • Trustworthiness
    • Truthfulness
    • Authority
    • Accuracy
    • Currency
    • Objectivity
    • Honesty
    • Fairness


These are the issues that we consider as guiding principles of media and information literacy for undergraduate students.

[1] For more information:

Amstrong, Sara. Information Literacy: Navigating and Evaluating Today's Media.

2nd ed. USA: Shell Education, 2008.


Ede, Lisa. Work in Progress: A Guide to Academic Writing and Revising. 5th ed.

USA: Bedford, 2001.


Horton, Forest Woody Jr. Understanding Information Literacy: A Primer. France:

UNESCO, 2007. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001570/157020e.pdf


Ó Dochartaigh, Niall. Internet Research Skills.London: SAGE, 2007.


[2] For more information:

Burton, Graeme. Media and Society: Critical Perspectives. UK: Open University Press, 2005.


Rayner, Philip, Peter Wall, and Stephen Kruger. Media Studies: The Essential Resource. London:

Routledge, 2004.


Sayers, Richard. Principles of Awareness Raising: Information Literacy, a Case Study.Bangkok:

UNESCO Bangkok, 2006. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001476/147637e.pdf


Share, Jeff, and Elizabeth Thoman. Teaching Democracy: A Media Literacy Approach. California: National Centre for the Preservation of Democracy, 2007. http://www.ncdemocracy.org/sites/www.ncdemocracy.org/files/docs/D+Dweb_educators_guide.pdf


Thoman, Elizabeth, and Tessa Jolls. Literacy for the 21st Century: An Overview and Orientation

Guide to Media Literacy Education. Part I: Theory.CML MediaLit Kit: A Framework for

Learning and Teaching in a Media Age. Center for Media Literacy, 2005.

http:/ / www.medialit.org/ pdf/ lit2105.pdf


[3] For more information:

Larson, Charles U. Persuasion: Reception and Responsibility. USA: Wadsworth, 2001.


Mills, Harry. Artful Persuasion: How to Command Attention, Change Minds, and Influence People. USA: AMA, 2000.


Ogle, Donna, Ron Klemp, and Bill McBride. Building Literacy in Social Studies: Strategies for

Improving Comprehension and Critical Thinking. USA: ASCD, 2007.


Pape, Susan, and Sue Featherstone. Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction. London: SAGE, 2005.


Sereno, Kenneth K., and Edward  M. Bodaken. Trans-Per Understanding Human Communication. USA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975.


Willis, Jim. The Media Effect: How the News Influences Politics and Government. USA: Praeger, 2007.


[4] For more information:

Behrens, Laurence, and Leonard J. Rosen. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. New York: Longman, 2003.


Cottrell, Stella. Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument.China: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.


Infante, Dominic A. Arguing Constructively. USA: Waveland Press, 1988.


Price, Geraldine and Pat Maier. Effective Study Skills: Unlock Your Potential. London: Longman, 2007. 


Quinton, Sarah and Teresa Smallbone.  Postgraduate Research in Business.London: SAGE, 2006.


[5] For more information:

Behrens, Laurence, and Leonard J. Rosen. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. New York: Longman, 2003.


Ede, Lisa. Work in Progress: A Guide to Academic Writing and Revising. 5th ed.

USA: Bedford, 2001.


Friedman, Barbara G.  Web Search Savvy: Strategies and Shortcuts for Online Research. London: LEA, 2005.


Ó Dochartaigh, Niall. Internet Research Skills.London: SAGE, 2007.


Wood, Nancy V. Perspectives on Argument. 3rd ed. USA: Prentice Hall, 2001.




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Hasnaoui Mohamed | Réponse 27.05.2019 12:37

Great job dear professor.

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02.06 | 08:01

thank you so much professor for these important points.

25.05 | 04:35

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25.05 | 04:23

Already done!

25.05 | 04:22

No. This website provides some units of the course + complementary information and resources. You have to combine both e-learning platform and this website.

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