This paper interrogates and challenges narratives of digital media literacy, drawing on experiences from the Irish context, as well as political economic analyses of the media studies tradition.
Recent responses to problems identified in online media - including fake news, fears over sexual exploitation of children, etc. - are often grounded in neoliberal models of individualism and fragmentation, rather than ethics of care, solidarity, and social responsibility. This, then, becomes what is understood as 'media literacy' in the digital context - checklists and performing the role of 'informed consumer' in media and cultural engagement.
In Ireland, recent legislation has charged the broadcasting regulator, the BAI, with developing a media literacy policy, primarily for the broadcast media. At time of writing, it is anticipated that possible changes to European and national laws might expand responsibility to digital realm. The policy developed is one that offers a 'menu' approach, in which fragmented activity, no matter how minimal, can be described as fitting within a media literacy framework. This paper interrogates this approach to understanding media literacy, placing the approach within the context of broader conversations about digital media literacy and the political economic calculations of regulators in a trans-national, converging media landscape.
In particular, the paper will draw on the concept of hope labor, whereby producers on social media platforms are encouraged to contribute in the hope of future returns - while the content, and their presence as audience members, are both mined for commodification processes.