Media and information literacy (MIL) is essential to enable citizens’ ability to think critically and click wisely. As UNESCO puts it: “Media and information literacy is an interrelated set of competencies that help people to maximize advantages and minimize harm in the new information, digital and communication landscapes” (MIL definition). This article argues that in addition to policymakers, civil society and educational institutions, media outlets are vital to the media and information literacy. This is particularly relevant in the Western Balkans, whereby information disorder has become a concerning phenomenon in the media and information landscape (European Parliament Study 2021).
It is also vital for the discerning use of digital technologies. More broadly, MIL is a necessary tool for citizens’ informed and active participation in the governance and decision-making processes at different levels.
UNESCO argues that media and information literacy for all should be seen as a nexus of human rights and, as such, proposes five universal laws of MIL, as visualized in the following picture. This approach draws from the crucial role of information and media in all aspects of life. It is embedded in the freedom of expression and information principles because MIL empowers citizens to understand the media ecosystem, critically assess information and content and make informed decisions as users and producers of content.