Media Literacy and Young People

In the context of widespread online misinformation and accelerating newsroom closures, this study sought to understand how young Australians engage with news media, what news literacy skills and abilities they possess and what support their receive in school, what they think of news organisations, and how they would like news to develop and evolve in the future.

Background and significance

In the first stage of our research (Phase 1, 2017-2018) we partnered with Crinkling News to carry out a national survey. We found that most young Australians (aged 8-16 years) value news and consume it regularly. However, most don’t know how to spot fake news – yet they are not receiving news media literacy training at school. Young Australians also have very low levels of trust in news media organisations: they trust their family and teachers far more as news sources.

In second stage of our research (Phase 2, 2019-2020) we worked with Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) to develop the news media literacy of young Australians. This project supported and complemented a new exhibition at MoAD titled, Truth Power and a Free Press. This project was funded by MoAD, Google Australia, Western Sydney University and Queensland University of Technology with in-kind support from ABC Education.

The project activities included:

  • A snapshot media analysis study to examine the inclusion and representation of young Australians in the news.
  • A national survey to examine the news practices and experiences of young Australians aged 8-16 years.
  • Contributing to the design, implementation and evaluation of the major exhibition, Truth Power and a Free Press.
  • A major event and mentoring process to support young Australians to become News Champions.
  • The development of a media literacy framework for the digital age to support the design of news engagement and learning materials.
  • Workshops to engage young Australians and school teachers to develop news exhibition content and news literacy learning resources and activities.
  • A survey of Australian primary and high school teachers to investigate whether – and how – they teach students about news media in the classroom

National Benefit

Prior to this project, very little was known about young Australians’ news engagement and news literacy and no nationally representative data existed. This prevented civil society organisations, public institutions, and governments from designing evidence-based responses to address needs and challenges. To address this, the project:

  • Surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,069 young Australians aged 8-16 years to understand their news engagement practices and experiences
  • Analysed 276 news stories across 8 newspapers and 4 television news bulletins to assess how young people are included and represented in Australian news media
  • Survey 295 Australian school teachers from every state and territory in Australia and interviewed 20 teachers
  • Developed a media literacy framework which has now been adopted by the Australian Media Literacy Alliance
  • Mentored 21 young News Champions from every state and territory in Australia for 12 months
  • Developed exhibition materials and engaged with the media to advocate for young people’s involvement in debates and discussions about the future of news media

Our research was cited by the ACCC in their Digital Platform Inquiry final report (opens in new window) in relation to two recommendations to government regarding media literacy. First, the ACCC recommended that the government review how media literacy is taught in schools as part of the National Curriculum Review. Second, that the government invest in media literacy initiatives across the country. We have responded to the Treasury’s invitation for submissions to respond to this report.

Our research on young Australians and news media was cited in a discussion paper (opens in new window) commissioned by ACMA to inform their 2019-20 research program.

Research Team

Funding

Phase 1 of the project was funded by Crinkling News, Western Sydney University and Queensland University of Technology.

Phase 2 was funded by the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD), Google Australia, Western Sydney University and Queensland University of Technology with in-kind support from ABC Education.

Research Outputs

Reports

Notley, T., Dezuanni, M., Zhong, H.F. & Chambers, C. (2020) News and Australian Children in 2020: How young people access, perceive and are affected by news media, Research Report, Sydney, Western Sydney University and Queensland University of Technology.

Chitranshi, B. (2020) Young People and News Engagement in 2020. Survey Report. Western Sydney University, Queensland University of Technology and the Museum of Australian Democracy.

Dezuanni, M., Notley, T. & Corser, K. (2020) News and Australian Teachers: How news media literacy is taught in the classroom. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology and Western Sydney University.

Notley, T., Dezuanni, M. & Zhong, H.F. (2019) ‘The inclusion and representation of young people in the Australian news media’, Research report, Western Sydney University and Queensland University of Technology.

Notley, T., Dezuanni, M,, Zhong, H,F, & Howden, S. (2017) News and Australia’s children: how young people access, perceive and are affected by the news_ , Research Report, Sydney, Crinkling News, Western Sydney University and Queensland University of Technology.

Journal Articles

Notley, T., Zhong, H.F., Dezuanni, M., & Gilbert, S. (2022) Comparing children’s and teens’ news engagement practices and affective news experiences, Journal of Youth Studies.

Dezuanni, M. and Notley, T. (2022), Media literacy for primary-aged students in the age of digital media and augmented realityPETAA Paper, vol 225 , pp 1 - 8.

Corser, K., Dezuanni, M. and Notley, T. (2021) How news media literacy is taught in Australian classroomsAustralian Educational Researcher.

Dezuanni, M. (2021) Re-visiting the Australian Media Arts curriculum for digital media literacy educationAust. Educ. Res. 48, 873–887

Notley, T. & Dezuanni, M (2019) ‘Advancing children’s news media literacy: learning from the practices and experiences of young Australians’, Media, Culture & Society, 41(5): 689-707.

Conversation Articles

Notley, T. & Dezuanni, M. (2020) ‘3 ways to help children think critically about the news’, The Conversation.

Notley, T. & Dezuanni, M. (2020) ‘We live in an age of ‘fake news’. But Australian children are not learning enough about media literacy, The Conversation.

Notley, T. & Dezuanni, M. (2019) ‘On an average day, only 1% of Australian news stories quotes a young person. No wonder so few trust the media’, The Conversation.

Notley, T. & Dezuanni, M. (2017) ‘Most young Australians can’t identify fake news online’, The Conversation.

Other

Notley, T. and Dezuanni, M. (2020) Media Literacy Framework, Western Sydney University and Queensland University of Technology.

Notley, T. (2020) ‘“Disaster coverage” in the news has overwhelmed young Australians in 2020.’ ABC Education website. December 15 2020.

Notley, T., & Dezuanni, M. (2019). Toolkit: Analysing the Inclusion and Representation of Young People in the News Media. Western Sydney University.

Dezuanni, M., Notley, T. (2019) Studying the news through the Australian Curriculum: A brief guide for teachers. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology and Western Sydney University.

Dezuanni, M. (2019) ‘Use The News: In the English classroom’, ABC Education website.

Dezuanni, M. (2019) ‘Use The News: In media arts or across the curriculum’, ABC Education website.

Contact

Dr Tanya Notley