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UCS Senior School on Media Literacy: A Look Abroad for Hungary

This interview with a young person from the UK studing at the University College School Senior School offers a powerful case study on the state of media literacy and its varying applications around the world. While certain common issues exist across borders, understanding the nuances in Europe offers insights that Hungary can use to empower its citizens.

The Need to Combat Disinformation

At the heart of the discussion is the ability to recognize state-run or otherwise heavily biased media sources. As our social feeds fill with news items, being able to distinguish government propaganda from fact-based journalism is more crucial than ever. In the UK, where the BBC represents a complex blend of state funding and relative impartiality, understanding how ownership and political affiliations influence reporting is an essential tool for any media consumer

Hungary currently faces major issues of government control over news outlets. The takeaway here is to prioritize fostering critical evaluation of news sources from a young age. Students in Hungary must not only learn to separate ‘objective’ fact from ‘persuasive’ opinion but also recognize potential agendas hiding within those supposedly “fact-based” sources.

Beyond Clickbait: Media Access and Informed Discussion

A fascinating comparison arises between the readily available (but often shallow) content of free or social media-based news and the higher-quality reporting often locked behind paywalls. Herein lies a two-pronged challenge: combating shallow ‘clickbait’ headlines often present on free platforms, while advocating for greater access to credible news sources for Hungary’s population.

It seems in contrast to some countries, in the UK there’s an openness about exploring the power of the media industry, as witnessed by documentaries analyzing powerful figures within that system. Fostering similar educational resources, accessible to everyone and not just to specialized students of media, would be a positive step within Hungary.

Empowerment Through Understanding

Overall, the interview reveals how actively seeking varied perspectives and consuming higher-quality media leads to an engaged, empowered individual. While media literacy skills protect users from targeted messaging and propaganda, the deeper benefits – having informed conversations, making better decisions, and participating in civil society – apply at both a personal and national level.

Hungary has an opportunity to build upon these key themes. Integrating critical media literacy skills into formal education can be a stepping stone toward a populace less susceptible to manipulation and better equipped to participate in active, democratic citizenship. It’s about moving beyond simple comprehension to harnessing the media’s power in positive ways rather than falling victim to its abuses.

Interview recorded: London, 2024. 01. 22.
Interviewers: Marcell Kovács, Luca Mirtill Hullán

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