Comunicar Journal Blog

The Fourth International Conference on Media Literacy

Marching into the age of Web 3.0 and knowledge society, media and the Internet are playing an influential role in everyday life and continue to affect and transform human’s habits in acquiring, sharing and analyzing information. Media education hence is becoming increasingly important in terms of promoting professional learning and teaching of critical information consumption. The Fourth International Conference on Media Literacy: Multidisciplinary Approach to Media Literacy Research and Practice held in Hong Kong at 5-6 November boosted and marked the field into a new stage.

More than 70 local and overseas academics and educators from over 10 countries around the globe, including Czech Republic, Sweden, India, Japan, Singapore, Mainland China, Taiwan and the US and so on, participated in 10 panels of the conference. Within the two-day conference, around 50 papers were presented, in which half of them were from Mainland China. Participants had rich academic exchanges on media literacy amongst numerous disciplines, such as education, communication studies, journalism, cultural studies, language, arts, new media, health communication, etc.

Besides panel paper presentations, there were two forums focusing on media education. At one of the forums, not only did participants share their views on media education, they also moved on to discuss about the future of Media and Information Literacy (MIL). Noteworthy is that, during the conference, the Chinese version of UNESCO’s “Global Media and Information Literacy Assessment Framework: Country Readiness and Competencies” was introduced by faculty members of the Communication University of China and Dr. Kwame BOAFO, the International Communication and Information Consultant of UNESCO Office Beijing. This marks a milestone that, this framework is officially launched in Mainland China and will greatly enlighten further research.

Another important forum put its emphasis on discussing media literacy as a field. Academics, educators and participants shared a common view that media literacy is a growing academic field, since there have been quite a number of fruitful publications, conferences and academic activities being launched throughout the years around the world. But there remains room for development before media literacy becomes an established academic discipline.

MIL conf 1

(Photo 1. Plenary speakers, honorable guests and chairmen of the conference take photo at the kick-off ceremony)

Apart from the forums and panel presentations, plenary speeches and special talks also enriched the conference with speakers’ inspiring sharing of their knowledge and expertise. For instance, Dr. Donna Chu from The Chinese University of Hong Kong discussed the implications of media and technology changes for media literacy and the challenges of teaching students on media production. Prof. Andrew Burn from the University College London suggested that we should shed light on creative media production in the field of media education. Such cross-medium and cross-disciplinary practice will benefit the linkage between elite and popular culture. From a critical point of view, Prof. Ellen Seiter from University of Southern California brought forth the challenging fact that we are facing the exponential expansion of media conglomerate, such as Google, in different social aspects. Situated in such context, she highlighted her special concerns of brain health among young media users. Media literacy curriculum is regarded as useful for guiding young people to face the challenge of the digital era.

MIL conf 2

(Photo 2. Dr. Donna Chu shares her views at the conference forum)

MIL conf 3

(Photo 3. Prof. Andrew Burn delivers his plenary speech at the conference)

Reflection on the Symposium on Twitter, Weibo, WeChat and the ‘We’ movement: Microblogging and Journalism in China and Australia


When you are browsing this site, you are using one type of what we call the new media – the communication device connected to the internet and with which to transmit information in immediacy. We are no longer a stranger to smart phone and tablets, in schools, workplaces and our homes. Even our four-year-old kid and eighty-year-old granny can find a way to get in touch with the new media.

With no doubt, those working in the communication industry – journalists and media practitioners, have been living a new media life. This symposium focuses on the impact brought by the new media to nowadays media industry. Most of the presented invited to the symposium are media practitioners instead of university scholars. The whole afternoon was filled with innovative ideas and thrilling challenges in front of today’s media practitioners. According to a freelance journalist based in Australia, on the one hand, the new media environment has provided a huge platform for journalists to have direct interaction with their sources and audience, as a way to getting more first hand information and feedback. On the other hand, it is also easy for him to get involved in political conflicts as their words were written publicly online. Despite of all these, the journalist still regards direct online communication a positive thing. “It is a test of your journalism!”, he said. These challenges drive journalists to carefully verify their information and make judgements reasonably.

The new media also brings unexpected challenges to magazine designers and editors. According to an editor from Guangzhou, China, through years’ experiment, his team found that an online magazine could never be only a replication of the hard-copy magazine. Even though the online version can provide more contents, a magazine is still a magazine.

After trials and errors, they gradually find a way to make breakthrough – inventing innovative activities to draw target audience’s attention. Although the magazine editor said “we just cater to our target audience’s taste”, I wonder, are they really simply following the users’ need?


From a critical perspective, the mass media, as part of the commercial world, is somewhat creating the needs for people. In this process, the mass media brings forth an illusion to the public that they “need” to have “something” in order to act like the class they are pursuing. In the presentation, the CityMagazine’s target audience is mainly the middle-class youths living an bourgeoise lifestyle – “literature youth” as people usually call them. To certain extent, this group of “literature youth” has created a lucrative economic circle, including particular types of bookstores, theaters and hand-craft stores. On the internet, there is even a list of equipments a “literature youth” should have. In this sense, I think what the CityMagazine tries to do is creating the needs for the “literature youths” situated near Guangzhou. For example, they invited bloggers to introduce Taiwan’s home-stay (“literature youths” do not believe in traditional authority but trust someone seems more “neighbourhood”). Another activity was inviting a group of “core users” to taste the magazine’s trade-mark headphone (as a by-product of their mini concert). To their surprise, the headphones were soon sold out, even the price was not cheap at all!

New media is really changing our life. Not only in a way that it fastens the information transmission or transcends the border. But also it is changing the relationship between humankind and the external environment. Reading a magazine is far beyond consuming and reading, but has become a 360-degree experience. On the one hand, people got more opportunities to explore. On the other hand, the capitalists have found more channels to earn money.

“30 rules of being a literature youth” (I am sorry, it’s in Chinese)不可不知,關於假文青的30件事-1.html


MOOC as an all-in-one platform for teaching and research

HKU04x Making Sense of News


(HKU04x ran between May 19 and June 23, 2015)

I’ve recently finished teaching my first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on news literacy for the public on edX, the non-profit education portal founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The six-week course, titled Making Sense of News, attracted thousands of students from 147 countries. It comprised 63 short lecture video clips (mostly between 2 to 4 minutes), exercises, readings, five graded assignments (two of which were peer-reviewed) and discussion forums (964 comment entries were made by the final week).

Making Sense of News: Geographical data
More than 7,500 students from all over the world signed up for the course.

The massive collection of students’ behavioral data aggregated at the end of the course made me realize the potential of online-based media education research.

The following blog post sketches out some of the many possibilities this emerging form of teaching and learning can be used.

The big data gathered through MOOCs, in my view, would shed light on certain elements that could have not been examined through the conventional research methods.

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Liu Jing: A Research on the Evaluation Index System of Chinese Journalists’ Media Literacy

Tags: China, journalist;media literacy;Evaluation Index System

Media literacy level can be measured through qualitative and quantitative research. In order to properly investigate media literacy ability of Chinese journalists at the age of social media, a scientific and objective evaluation system is very important. For this reason, the research group from South China Normal University tried to construct an evaluation index system of Chinese journalists’ media literacy. The study is presented as follows.

(Thematic authors of this index:

Zhang Xuebo, Professor, South China Normal University, China.

Li Surui, Graduate student, South China Normal University, China.)


Step 1: Design a Questionnaire

The first-level index of journalists’ new media literacy is assumed as five indicators: media cognitions, media emotions, media skills, and media aesthetics and media ethics, and then 19 secondary indicators have been developed. Based on those 5 indicators and 19 secondary indicators, we designed a questionnaire on Chinese Journalist’ media literacy evaluation system, and sent it to university professors of Journalism and Communication in China, media experts by e-mail. The number of questionnaires is 72, receiving a total of 32 questionnaires, and the invalid questionnaire is 0, the questionnaire was 100% effective.

Firstly, the questionnaire scales Cronbach α coefficient (Cronbach Alpha) is 0.744, significantly higher than the 0.7 level. The results indicate that the internal consistency of this scale is an affirmative.

Secondly, the questionnaire validity analysis would be used KMO method. The results indicate that KMO is 0.515, greater than 0.5, indicating that the construct validity of the scale is acceptable. So, we can do the factor analysis. In addition, Bartlett’s test of sphericity is 161.998, df 91, Sig. 0.000, it represent that the groups have a common correlation matrix factors. The results also indicate that the questionnaire is suitable for doing factor analysis

Thirdly, principal component analysis was made to extract relevant factors from the samples. The outputs show that the front five factors was 71.669% cumulative contribution, more than 70%, to explain most of the information index. The extracted five main components establish the original factor loading matrix, and at the same time we delete some incompatible indications. Through the second factor analysis and cluster analysis testing, the results are generally the same as the first factor analysis, The final Media Literacy Evaluation System includes 5 indicators and 13 secondary indicators.

Step 2: Construct the index of Chinese journalist’ media literacy evaluation system

With questionnaires filled by experts to re-assign the various indicators, the researchers constructed the core first-level and second-level index of the media literacy evaluation system. The first-level index have 5 indicators, the second-level index have 13 indicators. The first-level indicators include media emotions, media skills, media selections, media uses and media recognitions. By factor contribution rate and the accumulated contribution rate, we can calculate index weight of each level indicator. The media literacy evaluation index system and weight of journalist in the following table.

First Grade indexes Proportion Secondary indexes Explain of The Index proportion
Media Emotion 30% Media organization cognition The understanding of media organization structure, financial situation, the competition among the various media, the commercial and professional of media organization. 5
Aesthetics Aesthetics is able to master some media aesthetic, to identify and evaluate the standard of beauty, to form the correct aesthetic concept. 4
Expressing beauty media will be presented the reality in the form of aesthetic, in order to reduce significantly media persuade tendency in the process of news communication. 1
Appreciate aesthetic it is to use different skills, language and aesthetic effect in the different media products to analyzed 2
Pass the beauty To know the communication aesthetic in media production process, pay attention to the connotation of news information. 3
Media skill 19% Media creation skills the professional standards and the professional literacy, focus on the concrete operating level 1
Media communication skills with the help of media platform, according to the audience demand, communicate the news timely and effectively, to maximize the communication effect skills. 2
Media selection 18% Media language cognition a kind of cognition of visual language, auditory language and other communication symbols. 2
Media audience cognition an whole judgement about the audiences, like audience psychology, audience preference, audience feedback. 1
Media usage 17% Media usage cognition To obtain information from the media and have the skill which the usage of media, the production technology and process of media product, especially the basic cogniton and use of knowledge in the development of new media. 1
Media information production cognition It is how to product the news information with connotation, reproduce the social reality and passed to the public. 2

Media identification


Media demand intention

It contains the demand for media text, the demand for using different media forms, the demand to adapt the audience’s personalization custom news, after the demand for media, we can find if the journalist have the media contact or not.


Media contact consciousness

It is not only means the contact of traditional editorial business, but also the contact with voice , video and mobile media in all media ear. The media contact in mobile internet era in an important evaluation criterion of journalist media literacy ability.



In the end, we can construct an evaluation index system for journalists’ media literacy abilities in the new media environment, and provide relevant decision-making reference for the education sectors, media agencies, community groups, government decision-making departments. However, the research also has some shortcomings.

  1. This research on the evaluation index system of Chinese journalists’ media literacy only stays in the descriptive level.
  2. To make the data more representatives, the samples need to be enlarged. In addition, the research has only divided two level indexes. In the further research, we may divide more detailed index.

This article is originally composed by Prof. Liu Jing

Associate Professor, South China Normal University