Executive Director John Pender and Director of Strategic Issues Isabella Cosenza attended the MediaMe Conference - Sydney
The Australian Press Council was delighted to be involved in Australia’s first national media conference for children. Staged by Crinkling News, Australia’s only national newspaper aimed at children, on November 19 and 20, the MediaMe conference aimed to improve media literacy among the country’s young people.
John Pender, Executive Director of the Press Council, attended on November 19 and was placed into a working group with journalists and children to discuss their views on issues related to opinion and bias in the news. The group spoke about topics such as the difference between fact and opinion and potential bias by publishers in deciding what is reported. John Pender said it was a valuable exercise by Crinkling News, a member of the Press Council since December 2016. “I think media literacy is one of the most important issues for children,” he said.
The working groups, comprising 35 children aged 10-15, developed a National Media Literacy Action Plan to tackle some of the issues discussed. Isabella Cosenza, the Press Council’s Director of Strategic Issues, attended the closing ceremony, held on Universal Children’s Day, November 20.
Senator Sam Dastyari and Megan Mitchell, National Children’s Commissioner, chaired a debate between two teams of children about whether the news is “for kids”. The affirmative side in the debate argued that news is distressing, that it is “too much too soon” and could also be confusing for children. The negative side argued that children had a right to know, to have their opinions heard, and that being well-informed is essential for them to advocate change where needed and develop critical thinking.
The question of whether news was for kids was then left open to the public to vote on in a Facebook Live Video.
The results of the first children’s news and media literacy survey, coordinated by Western Sydney University and Queensland University of Technology were also announced. The survey was about how young people accessed, perceived and were affected by the news. The study showed that a substantial amount of young people felt neglected by the news, that only one third can distinguish between real news and fake news and that children have a strong emotional response to the news. Isabella Cosenza said that Crinkling News should be congratulated for “organising a first class event and giving a voice to future leaders”.
“It was a privilege to hear on Universal Children Day the views of a diverse range of talented, articulate and well-informed children as they debated the relevance and appropriateness of the news for children,” she said.
As the National Media Literacy Action Plan was presented to Senator Dastyari and Ms Mitchell, Crinkling News Editor Saffron Howden urged people to continue to “shine a spotlight on media literacy”.