News & Features

Empower ordinary citizens to become media literate - Kay Osborne
Published: Wednesday, May 09, 2012 11:25:41 AM

Published in the Jamaica Observer | Tuesday. May 8, 2012

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

Former general manager of Television Jamaica, Kay Osborne believes that if “ordinary citizens” are assisted in being discerning consumers of media content more persons in authority will be held accountable for their actions and this will help to move Jamaica to “the next stage of democracy”.

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Kay M. Osborne

She said that if both traditional and new media are to best serve the interest of citizens, there is an “urgent” need for media literacy among ordinary Jamaicans.  Speaking at the third staging of a Communication Symposium at the Northern Caribbean University’s (NCU) main campus in Mandeville recently, she challenged the students to help in facilitating awareness in this regard. "In order for both traditional and new media to best serve the interest of citizens to become essential tools for national development, to hold leaders accountable, it is vital that media literacy becomes a national priority or at least the drive towards media literacy is recognised as an unmet challenge that awaits individuals or groups, including media literate NCU students, who well understand the need to help ordinary citizens become media literate," she said. Osborne describes media literacy as intuitive, innate, spontaneous questioning and understanding of what lies behind media output – the values, the motives, the funding, the sponsorship, the ownership.

In reference to new media, she said that it is having access to content anywhere, anytime on any digital service. She said that new media facilitate the real-time generation of new and unregulated content.

On the other hand, traditional media she said, “disseminate information through avenues such as newspapers, radio and television and are “not so much an open sesame”.

Content is guided by journalistic ethics and standards by which media houses are duty bound to conform.

Osborne said that the “awesome power” of the agenda setting capability of media necessitates that citizens are empowered to sift through the messages that they are receiving from increasingly different media sources. She said that in this way they can actively make decisions about persons and issues that affect their lives.

The two-day Communication Symposium and Lignum Vitae Film Festival at NCU this year explored the theme ‘Modern Media Influencing Public Policy and Opinion’.

Jamaican colours, cultural displays and Jamaican cuisine were incorporated in the event in celebration of Jamaica’s 50th year of independence.

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