Imagine a world where no one reads or writes but where body language and vocalization of some sort are the only means of communication. An illiterate world like this existed in the past, a past where schools did not exist and language was being formed.
Then imagine a world where decisions are made based on bad or misinterpreted information from being illiterate in news.
In today’s world, every advancement in society leads to another and another and people reap the benefits of education, language, and technology, while quality of life improves.
For some however, literacy never comes or the rate at which it comes is too late.
Illiteracy among people of the world is a prevalent issue in modern society. It plagues third world countries, women, children and men; it can plague anyone. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “Today one in five adults is still not literate and about two-thirds of them are women while 67.4 million children are out of school.”
UNESCO has been working to fix illiteracy and advocate its presence on a global level since 1946, yet help to shine light on the issue does not only have to come from the United Nations.
Journalists’ voices can be a shining light also. They can play a large role in advocating human rights issues, especially ones concerning women and children.
According to Chair of Children’s Rights Alliance for England Council of Management Mary Riddell, the following bullet points are ways that journalists can give the underprivileged a voice.
- Through investigating and campaigning on issues.
- Through exposing and bearing witness to injustice.
- By marking progress in children’s rights and providing positive images of children and young people by joining forces with campaign organizations.
The exposing of issues that need to be addressed may lead to radical changes for the better of society.
In addition to the form of literacy as a basic understanding of reading and writing, literacy can be expanded to include news literacy as well.
The following video was produced by Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism and explains news literacy as “Faculty members train the next generation of news consumers to think critically about what they read, watch, and hear.”
A project that has been started to promote news literacy is called The News Literacy Project (NLP). The main purpose revolves around “Students learning how to distinguish verified information from raw messages, spin, gossip and opinion and seek news and information that will make them well-informed citizens and voters.”
According to UNESCO, “A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities; and literate societies are better geared to meet pressing development.”
The same thought provided by UNESCO to link literacy to success in life in a myriad of ways, can be mirrored to news literacy.
A literate people first in language and then in news can ultimately allow for well-informed leaders making rational informed decision in tomorrow’s world to become a reality.
Never giving up on illiterate people, whether it be from a journalistic or linguistic point of view will continue to help improve statistics regarding literacy and the type of decision-making that can be made to better society as a whole.
This can be seen by statistics from the CIA’s World Factbook the fact that of the entire world’s population, 82 percent of those 15 years of age and older can both read and write; News literacy must be next.
For information on how to be involved with The News Literacy Project, click the picture below: