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USC professor assists in launch of media literacy campaign

The campaign includes an online resource for information.

Pivot, a new television network for millennials (18-34) created by the entertainment company Partcipant Media, has announced the details of a long-term social action initiative focusing on digital and media literacy. The campaign is launching with the help of USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Professor Henry Jenkins’ Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) project, which will help develop a curriculum to present literacy fundamentals.

Taking a cue from Participant Media’s mission to provide “entertainment that inspires social change,” Pivot’s initiative asks its audience members to consider the sources of information and media they consume, recognize their role as a source when they produce or share content and explore the trade-offs inherent to giving up personal information online.

“Audiences want content that is credible, accurate and transparent,” said Jim Berk, CEO of Participant Media. “By integrating digital and media literacy into Pivot’s programming and on-air experience, we hope to become a trusted source for our viewers.”

Known as Eyes Wide Open, the initiative will be anchored by a series of collaborative relationships with organizations in the areas of news, policymaking and education, including ABC News’ Nightline; the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE); Business for Social Responsibility; the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University; and the USC and MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics.

“The results of this study speak loudly to the need for this initiative,” said Evan Shapiro, president of Pivot. “While millennials are the first digital natives, they are also overwhelmed by the volume of information and misinformation online, and by the absolute loss of privacy that’s come in the digital age. As creators of television for the next generation, we feel responsible to offer tools to help them deal with the challenges they face.”

USC Annenberg’s role comes in with the development of a college-level curriculum that will use media to present digital and media literacy fundamentals developed in association with the MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics and Jenkins’ MAPP project, which will be available in 2014.

Components of the campaign on Pivot include the recent U.S. television debut of Terms & Conditions May Apply, which The New York Times called “quietly blistering”; Eyes Wide Open, a half-hour documentary to premiere on Sept. 11; “Raising McCain,” a new series hosted by columnist Meghan McCain about privacy in the digital age; and a series of original short films about digital and media literacy airing throughout the coming year.

Pivot also launched an online digital and media literacy hub — a resource for tools and information that include the network’s transparent advertising policy; news articles and features; a Twitter aggregator featuring the latest headlines from leading digital and media literacy organizations; and a quiz to test a person’s knowledge of the subject matter. The site went live with a digital and media literacy study of 800 millennials that was conducted with support from CIRCLE.

Highlights from the study:

  • 80 percent of millennials said it’s hard to know which media sources you can trust to deliver the truth.
  • Almost three out of four millennials (72 percent) consider themselves a valuable source of news and information.
  • More than one in three (38 percent) frequently share news or information without checking the source.
  • More than half (56 percent) lack confidence in the truth and accuracy of news and information that they share online.
  • Nearly one in three (29 percent) said they have misled friends and family through misinformation they have posted.
  • Three out of four millennials (76 percent) said that online privacy is dead.

“The ‘media revolution’ is transforming our world today in both good and arguably not-so-good ways,” said Chad Boettcher, Participant Media’s executive vice president of social action and advocacy. “Our goal is to demystify some of the stigma around digital and media literacy and give millennials a trusted resource — one that provides a unique forum for conversation and provides them with tools that will help them protect their personal information and give them insight into how they can help protect those around them.”

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