Webinar: The Role of Media Literacy to Youth in Promoting Well-being

Reimagining Society organized a webinar on the theme – “The role of media literacy to youth in promoting well being” on July 11, 2020, at 11 AM GMT onwards. Our speaker Mr. Joseph Cataan, Former executive Producer in CNN Philippines shared interesting insights on well-being through a set of selected questions by Reimagining Society and also open questions by the global audience:

Mr. Cataan opened up the webinar by briefing the topic through his presentation throwing light on the varying definition of media. Mr. Cataan described media to be a print, broadcast, film, the internet - which are pervasive and influential especially in this day and age. The term media is often used and misused by public discourse and a lot of people. It is always associated with many things good and bad.

Mr. Cataan has defined media in an ordinary and plain definition as Media and mass media include a wide variety of content that people spend their time reading ,watching and experiencing.The major resources of media include news program, websites, advertising, marketing messages, video games, music streaming apps like spotify or apple music ,online video streaming companies,social media posts.Mr Cataan labeled it as an invisible effect of media and its very imperative to know about media literacy which he defined it as the quality and quantity of information we engage with,largely determines our perceptions,beliefs and attitudes.This is where the “literacy”in media literacy concept comes into picture .It gives answers to questions that we often ask like how can we access,search,critically assess,use and contribute content wisely, what are our rights and responsibilities both online and offline? How can we harness media to promote our advocacies?

It is important and we understand that every media message is either edited packaged and delivered by specific purpose in mind because all media messages are constructed, they also can be deconstructed as well as to analyse that we can do the parts of communication situation by different branches like the sender, message, medium, receiver, context. He further explained in detail that when we say sender the person who is distributing the message; when we say message we can say what does the message say what is the subject and purpose what supports the message; when you say medium what form the message take letter, article or speech; when you say reciver it directed towards the audience who else can see, read the messages; Context means the deeper level of the text context is something when and where is message delivered.

The great divide:

People across the world are witnessing the dramatic increase in access to information and communication on the other side of the spectrum there are a lot of people being starved for information they have minimal access to information and others are flooded with digital content that is alarming because that is the great divide. The speaker has explained by giving an example as:

In the philippines for example the consumption of media is less because you don’t have a high speed internet wifi there.They rely on a per minute purchase of internet data and that makes a lot of a huge difference in terms of access.

Mr. Cataan stated that on the basis of consumption narrative we need to go on creator and consumer narrative. Mr. Cataan curated that because for the longest time we are taught that if we are a consumer of media you are solely a consumer but nowadays there is a concept of “Pro sumer” which is a person is a producer and at the same time a consumer and as you consume media you also produce them.

Mr. Cataan has given us some statistical insights that most people around the world watch television and mobile internet has been on the highest use by the consumers other than desktop internet use, radio. Mr. Cataan also explained about the theory of the media triangle there are three elements as media tax, audience and production. All media are constructed where in media tax is something all media contains value messages, these are created by a person or a group of people with a certain messaging in mind. For the audience side different audiences interpret media in different levels of understanding. On a lower part, production level is something on a social, philosophical, cultural they have special interests through their messaging. Each media in terms of art or production has its own styles or matters the way they are presented will be different from each other. Mr. Cataan also said that we have to be aware of the information as there are some targeted advertising done which track our activities on the internet.

He gave us an explanation as well on technological break through i.e block chain. He defined block chain technology as a decentralised system and advised that people should be aware of this technology as it will be changing the world panorama in the future.He lastly ended his presentation by saying that to be a person you want to be you have to consume the right information.

There was a Question and Answer (Q&A) session :

Q1. Mental well-being: The youth today are so influenced by social media & digital platforms to the point that they believe in everything that is available online without even checking the information credibility. How do you think this affects the mental well-being of the individual and his/her interaction with society? What measures or actions are to be taken in order to inform them correctly?

Answer: Mr. Cataan has said that when you are not critical about the content that you are consuming, it adds unnecessary stress, anxiety in an anxious world. It is important we have our own knowledge and have access to the right information. We need to visit and revisit and have a check list if it is beneficial, verified or not? I am hearing the alleged news item, is this in line with my principles and in line with the betterment of society or not? That main priority should be awareness of the news propagandas, public relations happening around you.

Q2.Sometimes the media use hyperbole or exaggerated headlines. People are misled by this way as many of them hardly read in detail inside and share the link containing the misleading headline. Usually the elderly people are not much tech savvy leaving them unable to explore either digital or mainstream media. Further, they can also be misled by the media and false narrations. What measures can be taken to prevent this?

Answer: Any age groups can lead into misinformation.There is study by a US researcher which says that the elderly and other people are more susceptible and prone to misinformation because our parents or grandparents are not “digital natives” (a term coined by media experts). As young people we have to be advocates of media literacy and have to speak up if something is wrong. Our older generations did not have access to internet media or advanced technology as we do so we need to do our part by teaching them politely.

Q3.There is a digital divide among age groups can you explain more about it?

AnswerThe digital divide remains on the basis of gender ,upbringing, where your family comes from. So we have different backgrounds so your socio-political, age, money in the bank, affordability of high speed internet, and place you live in.

Q4. Career well-being: There are many forms of media these days and anyone can be a content creator (or as you said, ‘pro-sumer'). What can we, as citizen journalists, do to make sure we produce high quality media with the limited resources that we have? How can we encourage journalists and media professionals to follow an evidenced based enquiry and reporting so that they can have a well-oriented career in terms of Career Wellbeing

Answer: Mr. Cataan has explained this question with an example by taking the Philippines as they have PESOnet in the different areas of the country and then there is high speed internet in more well off communities in the Philippines. Consumption and production of your own content differ based on the access to the internet. We also need to check first how we reach the wide community. Maybe you can try alternative apps such as messenger or podcasts to send your message or pictures or blog, music or writing something on Facebook can be done.

Q5. What are your perspectives on fact checking websites? Is it possible to have fact checking websites in every country? Furthermore, can every individual have easy access to fact checking websites so that one can ‘cross check’ or ‘double check’ its authenticity.

Answer As per Mr. Cataan’s view, fact checking is the important one to keep in mind for any form of media.

So there are countries that are not yet open to culture of media and broadcast then we also have different levels of growth as a country. He further added that the Philippines have more fact checking websites as he states that media is the fourth estate and without media there will be no check and balance so that is the function of fact checking.

Q6. There's a phrase, ‘To err is human’. What rational/correctional steps can be undertaken by the media houses to amend for any mistake/misinformation that they might have published unknowingly? How can the media rectify the damage done on a public or an individual through miscommunication

Answer: On a legal grounds, legal ground, journalists can also face the consequence of irresponsible journalism .But Mr. Cataan also emphasised that if you commit a mistake in the media world, that's not the end of the world. We have the term “errata” which is if there was a mistake in the print it can be rectified and apologize for your mistake the next day or in the next telecast.

Q7.Besides being passive consumers of news, what active roles can we play to ensure news reportage is accurate? How can we hold the media accountable to misinformation, so that we will not unintentionally harm others’ well-being by sharing distorted news?

Answer: Media all over the world have their own manuals and their ethics in journalism and so the media can be working alongside the government as we are on the same course for betterment of society. At the end, it has to be a free moment as media literacy has to be connected with the public.


Q8. How can millennials lead the youth to create a small to huge impact on wellbeing in society through social media despite the global crises?

Answer: We have to use social media wisely and to highlight the misinformation on media as it is a powerful tool of media like on youtube, twitter, instagram can be used for advocating media literacy.

Q9. Nowadays, in new media literacy people sometimes use emotional appeal (fear, warmth, humor and etc), Do you agree with that ethically? Will it have a good or bad effect, especially in promoting wellbeing?

Answer: It will be depending on the school of thought that you want to subscribe to. It is different with different people around your workstation or your in house surroundings and so there is an infear if we are biased to any news or anything. Bias is difficult to detect in the media world as it is wide and huge. Even biases have different shapes and forms, so we need to be careful while choosing our bias.

Q10. How do we correctly interpret the contents of a media article, considering that everyone of us has its/their different way of understanding anything that we read, especially on the internet?

Answer: Mr. Cataan has given an example of a media triangle as it is open to different interpretations for the audience side of the triangle. We can use pictures, graphs, diagrams to explain the media in an understandable approach.

Q11.Print media is slowly losing its spot in the media industry due to the loss of market caused by the internet, on the other hand TV and radio stations nowadays broadcast their shows on the internet. Do you think it is possible that publishers and broadcast stations will close because people now engage themselves on the internet where they can simply select the shows and music they wanted to be entertained?

Answer: In reality there is already a media convergence and you can consume television while browsing your website and you can consume that all together as there are a number of platforms to consume at the present day.

Q12. Nowadays, in new media literacy people sometimes use emotional appeal (fear, warmth, humor and etc), Do you agree with that ethically? Will it have a good or bad effect, especially in promoting wellbeing

Answer: Nowadays the media is inevitable as we know but the manner of how it is being represented to people and how it is received by the people, that is the only thing that changes. And if it is needed it is always ok to turn off your data once in a while. It is a part of wellness to the wellbeing and we have to take care of ourselves.

Q13. What advice can you give to young people who see Social Media as a platform of popularity only as misinterpretation of self-expression? As educators and parents how can we let them see a different perspective of social media responsibility?

Answer: Mr. Cataan expressed his observation as if you’re an influential online you have to do it for greater good and people also should take care of the hashtags to become popular in their country along with the content or not commenting in a polarising way people will unsubscribe to you. As a social influencer, it is a daily struggle to maintain the decorum, the followers and the content flow.

We also need to maximise the tools that media websites have in order to make sure that we are consuming the right information; for example, blocking fake news, fake accounts, on twitter they use forged multiple hashtags or you can see creative moments on twitter and parents and educators must give the access to the young once for social media platforms and also encourage them to speak up and let them discover by themselves.

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