Media Literacy and Communication Rights

By Brian O'Neill - 2010

The dominant discourse of media literacy policy espouses an ethical individualism within the digital media environment in which the source of moral values and principles, and the basis of ethical evaluation, is the individual. In this perspective, even vulnerable citizens such as children and young people, who tend to be in the vanguard of new media adoption, are required to negotiate the risks and opportunities of the online world with diminishing degrees of institutional support from trusted information sources. Noticeably absent from this discourse is any consideration of the notion of communication rights. Examining an alternative conceptualization of media literacy identifies it as a fundamental human right as important as other forms of literacy. Examining some of the ethical challenges that citizens now face in the digital world, the article argues that a rights-based framework is required to address the challenges posed for media literacy education.

In The International Communication Gazette, Vol 72, Nos 4 & 5, June/August 2010.


Communication rights enable all people everywhere to express themselves individually and collectively by all means of communication. They are vital to full participation in society and are, therefore, universal human rights belonging to every man, woman, and child.


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