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Discussion paper and event recording: Deciphering Media Literacy in Aotearoa New Zealand

Media literacy is increasingly important in our information-saturated, high-connectivity world. It’s commonly offered as a core solution to challenges posed by artificial intelligence, synthetic media, platform regulation, and disinformation. But what is it exactly?


Discussion paper released


Brainbox is proud to share our research paper “Deciphering Media Literacy: Charting the future in Aotearoa”. The paper is a primer for policymakers and other community leaders coming to grips with the subject and includes recommendations for a national stocktake and strategy of media literacy initiatives in Aotearoa New Zealand.



Key points from the paper


Strong media literacy skills do not just help people distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy sources of information – they also enable people to engage with and produce all forms of media more creatively, effectively, and authentically. In this respect, a commitment to support for media literacy is a crucial component of promoting freedom of expression.


We identified six key themes, and made four recommendations. In summary:


  1. Effective media literacy interventions are designed and delivered for specific groups in local contexts

  2. Media literacy education must balance between two approaches: protectionism and empowerment

  3. Good media literacy education acknowledges people interact with media in active and complex ways

  4. Media literacy education should examine how media is constructed

  5. Effective interventions are interactive and participatory, and acknowledge that instructors do not have all the ‘right’ answers

  6. Sustained interventions are more effective than one-offs, but length doesn’t guarantee effectiveness


Key recommendations


We also make the following recommendations for policymakers and communities in Aotearoa New Zealand:


  1. Map existing efforts – Before embarking on any major new programmes, it’s important to obtain a clear picture of the scope and impact of ongoing projects. Any new efforts should use existing infrastructure effectively and ensure they’re targeted at the areas of greatest need.

  2. Strengthen local and international networks – Collaboration will be key to effective media literacy efforts. Some local and international networks already exist, and tapping into and strengthening them will enable productive and successful cooperation.

  3. Share knowledge and insights as much as possible – While every organisation and intervention is unique, lessons learned from one can and must be used to improve all others. Sharing knowledge will both improve efforts across the board, and promote closer and more collaborative relationships.

  4. Develop a coordinated and comprehensive strategy – For the best results, a coordinated long-term strategy across government, civil society, and international partners will be necessary. We acknowledge that this is a difficult task, but it will be eased by the previous three – and we think that the benefits are worth it.


Hybrid event held Monday 18 December 2023


The discussion paper served as the foundation for a panel discussion held on December 18 in Auckland and online, featuring distinguished panelists. The panel included AUT Associate Professor Helen Sissons, Ian Thomas, President of the National Association of Media Educators, and Atakohu Middleton, a journalist, researcher, and communications consultant. The conversation was moderated by Ximena Smith from Brainbox. You can watch the full discussion below.



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