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Review of Public Policies in Media and Information Literacy in Europe: Cross-Country Comparisons (2017), edited by Frau-Meigs, Velez, and Flores Michel

Reviewed by Drew Virtue

Publication Details

 OLOR Series:  ROLE Reviews
 Author(s):  Drew Virtue
 Original Publication Date:  15 March 2020


Publication Note

This review was originally published in Research in Online Literacy, vol. 3, no. 1 (2020).

Resource Contents

Review of Public Policies in Media and Information Literacy in Europe   

Public Policies in Media and Information Literacy in Europe: Cross-Country Comparisons pursues an ambitious goal of analyzing media and information literacy (MIL) among 28 countries in Europe. While most edited collections center readings around a thematic topic, this edited collection goes further by offering a related group of readings that conducts a comprehensive, mixed-methods study about media and literacy information. Within the introduction, the editors present a historical context that shows how media and information literacy are valued in individual countries; however, they also note that there has been less research into how media and information literacy function among a collective, predominantly within countries in the European Union. Ultimately, the editors’ note how they are interested in how “EU member states define MIL [media and information literacy],” how EU countries “implement policies specifically aimed at MIL in the digital context,” and how “other stakeholders are involved in the implementation” (pp. 3-4). In order to explore these questions, the edited collection is organized into three parts that use a “quali-quanti methodology” (p. 6): the first part includes one chapter that provides a comprehensive quantitative analysis on media and information literacy among the 28 countries, the second part contains multiple chapters that provide a qualitative analysis of multiple topics related to media and information literacy, and the final part has two chapters that focus on “good practices and neo-liberal mediatization” (p. 10).

The first section, chapter 1, offers a significant amount of data that analyzes ideas related to media and information literacy through seven dimensions: Definition, Policy framework, Capacity-building: training, Capacity-building: resources, Funding, Other actors, and Evaluation. Afterwards, the authors assess the strengths and weaknesses of a public policy framework and offer some conclusions on their findings. While this chapter incorporated important information, the sheer amount of data made the ideas within the chapter feel somewhat disparate—which could affect readers differently based on their motivations for reading this collection. By including three tables and 45 figures within an approximately 70-page chapter, readers may struggle to retain the information found in this chapter or comprehend it as one specific theme or purpose. However, each table and figure may be extremely useful for readers looking for specific types of analyses related to media and information literacy, especially as they pertain to topics related to the seven dimensions created by the authors. Although I found the content from this first section interesting, I found the chapters from the next section easier to digest.

The second section incorporates five chapters that delve into some of the ideas from first section but through a qualitative perspective. More specifically, I found the chapters that explored the definitions as well as the legal frameworks of media and information literacy of particular interest. When investigating loaded terms like media and information literacy, I am always interested to see how authors frame their definitions, especially when trying to analyze such a complex term across various countries. The authors of this chapter never settle on one specific definition. However, they do an excellent job showing how countries define media and information literacy (or similar concepts) based on “insights into the cultural, historical and political backgrounds and circumstances that mediate and frame discourses on and definitions of ML [media literacy]” (p. 92) and that media literacy should be “understood as a changing process … according to its technical, social, cultural, and political context” (p. 104). The next chapter takes its investigation of media and information literacy one step further by analyzing how different countries treat it from a legal framework. The authors summarize that most “legal expression[s]” of media literacy are tied to education and human rights. From that point, the chapter organizes the countries from the study into three different groups tied to their media and information literacy status: an initial stage of implementation, an advanced stage of implementation, and implementation that is almost fully present. The authors discuss each of these stages in a manner that helps articulate the intricacies of media and information literacy, while also highlighting how these policies benefit a country’s citizens. Unlike the first section, the second section leaves the reader thinking about very specific ideas related to media and information literacy, which benefitted my overall understanding of policies related to it.

The final section contained two chapters that looked at good practices of media and information literacy and how political contexts are affecting them. In looking at “good practices,” the authors incorporated multiple quantitative analyses based on a “coding guide developed from the criteria provided in the national reports template as well as categories of main actors in practices implementation and funding” (p. 264). While this chapter also contained several tables and figures, the data and conclusions seemed more focused on what these results mean about media and information literacy moving forward. The final chapter of the edited collection ties all of the material together by looking at the “double bind” of media and information literacy. As the authors point out, there is a “need for a critical understanding of MIL … on the one hand, an opportunity for collective critical citizenship, on the other hand, a tool for increased neo-liberalism, individualism and marketization” (p. 269). The remainder of the chapter does an excellent job of exploring these two paths while drawing on ideas from throughout the book. Overall, the scope of this edited collection, as well as the “quali-quanti” approach, is worth reading for anyone interested in media and information literacy (or similar literacies). The editors do a great job on constructing an analysis of such a broad study. Ultimately, even if readers are not interested specifically in the state of media and information literacy within the European Union, the contributions from the authors provide rich context for thinking about, learning, and working towards media and information literacy policy on a multitude of scales.

Public Policies in Media and Information Literacy in Europe: Cross-Country Comparisons

Divina Frau-Meigs, Irma Velez, and Julieta Flores Michel (Eds.). 2017. New York: Routledge. [ISBN 978-1-138-64437-3. 304 pages, including index. USD$41.95 (softcover)].

About the Reviewer

Drew Virtue is an associate professor at Western Carolina University. His research interests examine the intersection of digital literacies, pedagogy, and issues of power and privacy. His current work measures students’ web literacy competencies and contextualizes it with what it means to be digitally literate.

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