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Covid-19

Media Literacy in the COVID-19 Crisis

The recent pandemic (Covid-19) has impacted education systems in universities around the world. The impact has been dramatic for institutions, academics, and students looking for workable short term solutions for online teaching and learning. The unique challenge facing higher education encouraged DEN to look for opportunities to stay in contact with students using online facilities.  Through the academic initiative, we invited students to meet and organise feasible and appropriate projects at this time. Using Inside Westminster we have agreed that students will write an article and or provide a 5 minutes video of their reflection and experience of Covid-19.  We have encouraged students from all over the world to express their stories and share them with each other, hoping that this would provide a channel not only to learn but also to engage with each other. Hence, the following articles in this section are students’ reflections/experiences of Covid-19.


Our world is going through a pandemic crisis, Coronavirus (covid-19) is spreading all over the world with an incredible speed. The numbers of people who have been infected is rising day by day. The whole world is experiencing a period out of the ordinary. We all are in a process of adaptation; all countries developing strategies to take this pandemic crisis under control. Especially in a time where communication technology develops every second, taking a crisis under control appears to be one of the challenging points. As being in a technology-era producing information is one of the easiest things, especially considering the availability of the social media platforms; anyone can come up with information without any source. Hence, everyone is exposing several types of information each second through media, which ends up leading to information overload. This highlights the importance of media literacy.

This article will indicate the various types of information in COVID-19 crisis, according to the typology Hasan Ashrafi-rizi and Zahra Kazempour mentioned in their article; “A Commentary on Information Typology in Coronavirus Crisis” in line with the emphasis on the terms media literacy and information authenticity through further up-to-date examples and definitions.

There are many types of information we exposed to during COVID-19 crisis, one of the leading information type is: “Shocking information” which is the types of information that causes high concerns on people, considering the COVID-19 crisis, the mutation of the virus (taking variable forms depending on the host cell it attaches); or the easy spreadability of the infection; the age gap that is under the threat of vital danger. In other words, the sensational information that cause-celebre. “Comforting information” on the other hand is the information that comforts the people and provide a relaxing within a crisis. It mostly implemented through the memes and gags on social media platforms such as the safe hand challenge conducted on Instagram where celebrities share funny versions of them while hand-washing, accordingly; decreasing the intense perspective on the virus and help reducing tension and anxieties of people. As Hasan Ashrafi-rizi and Zahra Kazempour also indicated in their article, comforting information serves as a safety valve which is a tool that serves the purpose of relieving pressure and preventing the overpressure further. Thus, making the crisis more safe and under control.

One of the main types of information in COVID-19 crisis is “Valid information” which is the information that has scientific evidential base. Where there is feasible reasoning and authentic information, such as the hand washing techniques WHO (World Health Organization) demonstrated, including the necessary duration: 20 seconds with soap and applying particular techniques that reduces the threat for us and for our relatives through decontamination of the virus.

By contrast with Valid Information, “Misinformation” is the unreliable information that constitutes wrong assumptions. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the information that spreads into online platforms where it has the highest potential on reaching people, the mis-implementations where the source of information is not valid or the information has no scientific-fact authenticity which ends up leading anxiety and panic among the public where it brings up another related topic: media literacy. Media literate person is the one who consumes media products wisely, in other words; the one who has the power to distinguish true information from false claimings. When we think of today’s circumstances where information overload is bigger than ever, media literacy,being mindulf of the reliability of information, making interrogations for the information we exposed, is having increasing importance.

Disinformation”, on the other hand, is the information that has created in order to meet the specific intentions of the distributor on certain purposes such as political, economic and cultural, where the producer disseminates the claiming by conducting manipulative benefits. The governments’ attitude during this pandemic in order to implement the idea of providing an efficient crisis management, making beneficial and helpful steps in order to meet the public’s expectations and taking solid precautions for public’s good.

Furthermore, “Confidential information” is the type of information that is intentionally kept from the public since it may give rise to certain conflicts. Just like in the perspective of coronavirus, the public can never exactly be sure and know the exact definite numbers of people that infected and the actual numbers of deaths because of COVID-19. The information about the confirmed numbers that has represented in the media may not be reflecting the truths.

Rather like Confidential information, “Postponed information” is the information that has released to public with some delay since, presenting information brings certain consequences and issues with it; such as a state of chaos environment. Depending upon this, in order to control the pandemic; informations can be announced after a process of retention. Just as exampled through the coronavirus’ beginning period where authorities in Turkey had procrastinated the publication date of information on infected people as possible as he can, in order to retard the chaotic environment. However, the information has to be announced, as the numbers of people who caught COVID-19 are increasing; in order not to result with mistrust of public where the authenticity of the information revealed is questioned and doubted.

Addedly, “Doubtful information” occurs with regard to the insufficient scientific information and validations. The information that can not be claimed as authentic or not. Such as some types of vegetables and fruits claimed to be alternative solutions for the infection. Garlic for instance, asserted to be effective in terms of preventing the diseases, hence though to be helpful fighting against the Coronavirus, but not proven yet. The accuracy can only be provided through certain evaluations and assertions of scientist.

Contradictory information” on the other hand is the information that has been debated among contradicting opinions where different perspectives on one particular topic can not be agreed upon one distinct information such as the mask using during COVID-19 period where several sides claim opposing ideas on, such as the uncertainty with the mask, if prevents the virus spread when a healthy person wears it or not. As a matter of fact, most of the informations we exposed during coronavirus is contradictory, considering there are many sources of information that indicates perspective.

Progressive information” differently from Contradictory information, is the information that is open-ended, where several studies that needs to be conducted in order to make certain clarifications such as the future functions of the coronavirus; that can not be forecasted without observations by time with innovations in order to be able to come up with results and upcoming envisions.

Another type of information is “Perplexing information” where the information constructed has the purpose of creating awareness by informing, however; the information reached the audience is not a suitable target for that information. Such as scientists using an advanced level of language while making a scientific implementation to inform the public that has not the sufficient background knowledge to be able to understand the information.

To conclude, as mentioned above; the excessive amount of information represented on the media can not indicate the true information, moreover; may not indicate it through appropriate ethical ways. Considering all the information types we get exposed to; first and foremost, we should be deliberate over the information we obtain. We should have the power to control the information we exposed every day for many times. Being able to distinguish right information from wrong, being critical on the sources of information, seeking for reliable sources and authentic informations as being active media users will provide effective usage of media during information overload and media literacy.

References:

Ashrafi-Rizi, H., & Kazempour, Z. (2020, March 12). Information Typology in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis; a Commentary. Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7075270/

 

Melodi Diner, Communication and Design student at Bilkent University, Turkey

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