Getting to justice and equity through media literacy

by Belinha De Abreu, International Council for Media Literacy (IC4ML), USA.

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” Ida B. Wells.

Globally, the discourse on justice and equity is layered.  There are various points of views based on who people are, where they are around the world, and their personal experiences. In the course of two years, it became apparent that there were challenges that were greater than expected, which also created an abyss of broken conversations.  As a media literacy educator, the one overarching problem that seemed evident was the lack of critical thought. This complicated rhetoric, the lack of conscious, and the deliberate leading of mistruths, growing divides, and frankly the lack of media literacy is what precipitated the publication of Media Literacy, Equity, and Justice.

This project offered an opportunity to bring together people in a common space; allowing them to delve deeply into the issues and concerns related to their thinking on various societal/media issues. The pandemic demonstrated that globally we were at a critical point with justice and equity worldwide.  The US was dealing with issues of race and injustice along with disruption in our political systems, Hong Kong was figuring out their new place with voice and freedom of the press, the UK was dealing with the fallout from Brexit, Brazil was in a political upheaval, and these were just a few examples of discussions that were happening beginning in 2020.  Adding to these problems was another, which showed the consequences of misinformation, disinformation, and disconnected and inequitable health systems around the world.  More than that, the book addressed the various discussions about what people believe justice looks like around the world. At the same time, this work bridged a different kind of conversation about representation, people’s realities, as well as, viewpoints.

Media literacy, justice and equity aims are closely related. Media literacy education asks you to go beyond the constructs of what is in front of you. It provides for the skills to question both critically and reflectively, if done well. Further, it asks of you to look at representation, question your reality, and understand various perspectives. All of these things are not easily done when the media tends to steer conversations in one direction. Equity and justice follow the same parameters by looking at the problems faced worldwide within disparate communities as well as affluent ones. 

Triangulating these topics generated contributing author’s who helped to create unique chapters that considered people as well as whom they are as media users and producers. Contributions were sought from across the globe and drawn from a variety of contexts. Depending on where you live around the globe, the term “justice” is interpreted differently as is true of the term “equity.” We don’t see all issues in the same way. Nor are we experiencing them in the same way.  The book tries to provide that lens onto some of the more difficult topics. It also tries to push the envelope on belief systems which can actually be harmful in getting to a place where we can find a middle ground where the conversations could happen and where media literacy could be viewed as an extension of the work of justice and equity.

The book is organised around five themes: Misinformation and Disinformation; Media Representation; Civic Media, Politics and Policy; Eco Media Literacy; Education and Equity, Ethical Quandaries and Ideologies; and Emerging Technologies.

Some of the chapters found within:

  • How social media has transformed Social Justice in an “enemy” of Brazilian People? by Isly Viana (Brazil)
  • The Impact of Media Exclusion: Analysing the Representation of Young Australians in The News by Tanya Notley and Michael Dezuanni (Australia)
  • Media education and citizenship in neoliberal times by David Buckingham (UK)
  • Ecomedia Literacy: Decolonizing Media and the Climate Emergency by Antonio López (Italy)
  • The Constitutional Right to Lie and the Moral Duty to tell the Truth by João Marecos and Francisco de Abreu Duarte (Portugal)
  • Virtual Reality and the “Empathy Machine”: Immersive Media Literacy and Social Justice Activism by Shanshan Wang, Candace Parrish, and James Castonguay (USA)

Central to many of the conversations within Media Literacy, Equity, and Justice are the themes of misinformation, misrepresentation, and misunderstanding in part because we are in politically charged times. The book takes into account that we are living in a very reactive society that has contributed to the breakdown in communication.

Without question, media choices have an impact on the dialogue that people are having or even the lack of discourse, however, the media itself is a way to bring people together despite how much it has separated us too. The throughline is media literacy education and that was a fundamental goal to producing this work. Media Literacy, Equity, and Justice offers to the reader a thoughtful and thought-provoking look at these complicated issues. You can find more information and the table of contents here. If you would like to reach out to learn more feel free to contact me at


Belinha S. De Abreu, Global Media Literacy Educator, President of International Council for Media Literacy (IC4ML), USA.