Media education in the common interest: Public perceptions of media literacy policy in Latvia
Although the academic interest in media and information literacy (MIL) is ever increasing, there are not many studies that analyze the public perception of media literacy. This article analyses the interrelations between encouragement measures implemented by media policy and the perception of media literacy in society. The research employs data from a national representative survey (May 2019; N=1,017 respondents). The study explores the respondents’ media literacy perceptions; opinions on risks potentially caused by insufficient media literacy skills; and respondents’ experience with MIL activities. The survey results are compared with survey data on media literacy encouragement measures, aims and target audiences obtained from the Media Policy Unit at the Ministry of Culture media literacy partners. The theoretical background is supported by the media literacy ideological model, which explains media literacy within relationships with the social institutions in which it is practiced, as well as social processes. The data results are controversial. Even though more than half of Latvia’s population view their media literacy knowledge as insufficient, 52% of the respondents are not interested in MIL issues. Concerning the consequences of insufficient media literacy skills within society, the respondents focused mostly on threats to children (40%) and general public safety (28%), decrease in welfare (28%), societal regress (25%), fewer opportunities for high-quality education (26%) and Latvia being behind other EU countries (24%). Even though the media literacy encouragement measures in Latvia include activities aimed at various audiences, they have been noticed by only a slight number of respondents (7–10%).