New study explains the role of media literacy in the Finnish policy framework: New opportunities for future directions

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New study explains the role of media literacy in the Finnish policy framework: New opportunities for future directions

In international comparisons, Finland has often appeared as a frontrunner in promoting media literacy, especially from the perspective of national-level policies and structures.

We wanted to look into this topic more closely, so together with Saara Salomaa we conducted a study in which we looked for the policies published by the governmental ministries in Finland. We focused on the role of media literacy and media education in those documents. More specifically, we wanted to understand how the concepts of media education and media literacy have been framed in the policies.

You can download the full research article through the link but the main results are summarized as follows:

1. Media literacy have been part of the Finnish policy framework for a long time

The role of media literacy in the Finnish policy framework is twofold. On the one hand there is a specific national media literacy policy. The new updated policy Media literacy in Finland was published in December 2019 (previous published in 2013). On the other hand media literacy and media education are topics that have been included in other – often broader – policy areas as well.

2. Media literacy has a strong cross-sectoral nature

The results suggest that media education and media literacy are addressed widely across the different administrative sectors, but most often by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Altogether the topics were included in ten different ministries’ policies, including, e.g., communications, social affairs, and health

3. Media literacy has been framed from different perspectives

There is variance in the ways in which the media literacy and media education are presented in the policies. In this study we identified eight frames of media literacy, including:

  • protectionism,
  • cultural participation,
  • future working competences,
  • inclusion,
  • broad media education,
  • democracy,
  • national security, and
  • cosmopolitanism.

The emphasis of these different frames has changed and evolved through times. Even though media education is framed most commonly from a protectionist perspective, this perspective was most evident between 2005 and 2010. After that, media education is more commonly framed, for example, from democratic and inclusion perspectives. The latest notable trend is related to the frame of national security, most evident from 2016 onward.

New opportunities for cooperation

Based on the results we highlight the opportunities for future cooperation and emphasise the importance of nuanced understanding of the meanings of media education and media literacy.

As the role of media grows in society, culture and people’s lives, new opportunities and connections open up for media literacy work. The different frames of media education identified in this study encourage strengthening the media literacy approach in, for example, democracy education, art education, and global education.

The diversity of media education that appears through the different frames highlights also the importance of deep educational reflection and discussion. Since media education can be understood from different perspectives, the question should not
be whether media education is important or not, but rather what kind of media education is important and why.

These perspectives create inspiring possibilities and directions for the future media literacy.

Lauri Palsa
Senior adviser
National Audiovisual Institute

Finnish Media Literacy Policy – Revision in a Nutshell

Hands working on media literacy guildelines.

Finnish Media Literacy Policy – Revision in a Nutshell

The Ministry of Education and Culture’s media literacy policy and the national policy document on media education, “Media literacy in Finland” was published on 16th December 2019.

Media Literacy in Finland updates and extends the previous media literacy guidelines published in 2013. For the first time, we have a national policy stating that media education in Finland should be targeted equally to all groups of people.

To sum up, the vision is that in Finland Everyone’s opportunities to develop their media literacy are improved . Media literacies that promote good, meaningful life are an important element of civic competence. Media literacy is promoted and supported with the help of high-quality, systematic and comprehensive media education.

In practice, this means more hard work for us media educators. Revising the policy is an achievement, but still just a milestone. At the national level, people cannot be expected to become media literate without strong support. It is imperative that public services, civil society, research and sompanies all play their part in promoting and practicing media education and thereby media literacy.

How, then, will media education become more comprehensive, of higher quality, and more systematic?

Based on the joint discussions, a number of proposals for action to achieve the objectives have been drawn up. You can find the proposals of action here.

We received some comments during the policy draft commenting phase, asking for more specific guidance on the type of organization that would be responsible for each objective. However, despite our primary intention, we gave up on this. The reason was practical: the end result, when taking into account the already existing media education activities, was that most of the objectives would have belonged “all” types of organisations. Organizations operating in the field are best aware of their own activities and are expected to contribute to the objectives and measures that are reasonable.

Networking, open sharing and collaboration help to avoid duplication and increase resource efficiency. One of the key messages of the policy is the importance and encouragement of cooperation.

You can always ask KAVI for help if you are interested in Finnish media education. Information about Finnish media education organisations’ activities will also be shared on this developing website.

At KAVI we will also be responsible for the follow-up of the policy. The follow-up will be carried out in connection with the national reporting of the AVMS Directive. Once we receive the directive’s reporting guidelines from the EU Commission, we can also better design a follow-up program for the new national media literacy policy.

Naturally, we will adapt our own operations in KAVI’s media education to the new guidelines and update our action plan as soon as possible. We also welcome ideas and co-operation suggestions to implement the policy.

Let’s make the 2020s a success story for media literacy!

Saara Salomaa
Deputy Director
National Audiovisual Institute