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Paul Mihailidis - Media literacy needs be intentionally civic

Salzburg Media Academy Director features in New York Times discussing "fake news" and how to combat it

Paul Mihailidis, Program Director of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change

Oscar Tollast | 04.04.2017

In an attempt to decipher whether people are becoming less able to assess credibility in media reports, the New York Times has spoken to the Program Director of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, Paul Mihailidis about the creation and spread of fake news.

Mihailidis, who recently launched a new graduate program, Civic Media: Art and Practice, at Emerson College in Boston, spoke to the New York Times as part of a Q&A.

Interviewed by Sydney Ember, Mihailidis was asked about the proliferation of fake news during the most recent US presidential election, mistakes made interpreting the news, and how people like himself are trying to combat these false assumptions.

Mihailidis also discusses the lack of trust in the media and how he’s attempting to teach students to interpret the news in a “polarized media age.”

Regarding this latter point, Mihailidis told the New York Times: “Instead of just critiquing the voice, we’re trying to help people think about their voice in the community, the agency they have and what means they take to participate. Media literacy needs to be about connectivity, about engagement — and it needs to be intentionally civic.”

Mihailidis is set to publish a paper this spring exploring the spread of fake news, arguing media literacy as it is currently imagined may not solve the problem. To read Mihailidis’ interview in full, please click here.

It’s not the first time this year Mihailidis has been spoken to by a media outlet concerning media literacy. In February, Mihailidis spoke to Slate along with Salzburg Global Fellow Renee Hobbs to discuss the role of media literacy in uniting a divided America. 

The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, which Mihailidis directs, is an annual three-week summer program at Schloss Leopoldskron which gathers more than 60 students and a dozen faculty to explore media’s role in social and global change.

This year’s Academy, Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism, will take place between July 16 and August 5.

Students will learn and understand the key concepts of civic media, media literacy, global media, and civic imagination. 

Oscar Tollast