GILM – Promoting media education and media literacy in Portugal

by Fernanda Bonacho, Escola Superior de Comunicação Social, Portugal.

GILM – Informal Group on Media Literacy is a Portuguese network, created in 2009, whose main aim is to promote media education and to emphasise the importance of better levels of media literacy for all citizens. In the beginning, it was made up of five members. Since then, it has grown to a total of 13 permanent members, all of them public institutions. Throughout the years the group has also been engaged in several collaborations.

Currently GILM is made up of the following permanent members:

  • LUSA Agency (news agency)
  • National Cybersecurity Center (CNCS)
  • Portuguese National Commission for Unesco
  • Directorate-General for Education
  • Portuguese Regulatory Authority for the Media
  • School of Communication and Media Studies/IPL – Politécnico de Lisboa
  • Foundation for Science and Technology
  • Radio and Television of Portugal (RTP)
  • School Library Network (RBE)
  • Presidency of the Council of Ministers General Secretariat
  • The Portuguese Education Council (CNE)
  • Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual (ICA)
  • Communication Observatory (OberCom)
  • Vítor Tomé, a Guest Expert in Education for Digital Citizenship

As the name implies, GILM operates informally, without a formal existence or mandate, and aims at the cooperation of its members with a view to sharing relevant information, carrying out initiatives that may benefit from the synergies of the various participating entities, contributing to define public policies of ​​media literacy, as well as promoting common actions available to society.

Among GILM’s main initiatives, two stand out:

  • The bi-annual Congress Literacy, Media and Citizenship. This congress has taken place five times, in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 (GILM decided not to promote the initiative in 2021, due to the covid-19 pandemic). The presence of recognised national and foreign specialists on media education and communication, attendance by teachers, academics, and media professionals are characteristics of all the editions that have taken place which have the goal of opening the initiative more and more to the participation of the public.

Among many foreign experts that have already participated, we can mention José Ignacio Aguaded Gomez, Matteo Zacchetti, Kathleen Tyner, Evelyne Bevort, Ellen Helsper, Jose Manuel Perez Tornero, Alton Grizzle, David Buckingham, Mónica Fantin, Alfonso Gutiérrez, Fergus Bells.  

The 1st Literacy, Media and Citizenship Congress, which was held at the University of Braga, on March 2011, is worth highlighting because of the approval of the Declaration of Braga – one of the documents that contributed to the Recommendation on Education for Media Literacy in Portugal and that still remains one of the main references of the commitments of this group. This first edition was also the opportunity to launch the results of “Education for the Media in Portugal – Experiences, Actors and Contexts”, a study promoted by the Portuguese Regulatory Authority for the Media and developed by the University of Minho that mapped the media literacy field in Portugal and that proposed recommendations/ ways to develop it.

The 2nd Literacy, Media and Citizenship Congress, held in Lisbon, in May 2013, came back with the main goal of learning from best media literacy practices in Portugal and other countries. Since the third edition of the meeting, GILM has decided to choose a central thematic to focus on. So the 3rd Congress, held in Lisbon April in 2015, promoted a debate about “Media Literacy and Critical Readings of the World”

Two years later, the 4th Congress which took place in May 2017, iadopted the theme “The New Consciousness of Public Sphere”.

The 5th Literacy, Media and Citizenship Congress, held at the University of Aveiro, in 2019, was focused on “Technology, Disinformation and Ethics” .

  • The 7 Days with the Media – it can be briefly described as the Portuguese media literacy week; this is an annual national operation that aims to raise awareness of the role and place that the media occupy in our daily lives, but particularly of students. Every year, it starts on the 3rd of May – World Press Freedom Day. Participants can choose the day or days of the week to develop/participate in registered initiatives about the media. The initiative was launched in 2013 following the success of the project One day with the media launched the year before, in partnership with the School Libraries Network (RBE). The main purpose of 7 Days with the Media is to encourage the public and institutions, every year, in different aspects of their individual and collective daily lives. The Operation continued without interruption until today, with a very enthusiastic participation of the schools’ communities and with a special edition in 2020, “7 Days with the media – Without leaving the home” in the pandemic year.

GILM has also organised various FILM – Informal Media Literacy Forums, which can be described as free access meetings with experts debating current and relevant topics in the field of media literacy, whether designed for teachers, academics, and specialists of communication, or aimed at the wider community. The 1st Informal Forum on Media Literacy (I FILM), in 2016, consisted of a meeting between GILM members and about three dozen experts and personalities that identified and reflected on the main challenges of media literacy field for the period 2016-2020. The II FILM was about “the Internet, Data Protection and Media Literacy” and has been organised in partnership with the National Data Protection Commission. “Fake News, Misinformation and Freedom of Expression” was the trigger for the III FILM, and was organised in collaboration with the Sindicato de Jornalistas, in Porto. The IV FILM discussed “What skills for the digital revolution?” and was prepared in partnership with the National Council of Education, in Lisbon, in 2018. During the pandemic period, October 2020, the V FILM was organized by CNE and GILM as a webinar about “The digital in an active and empowering pedagogy”, and, in January 2021, the VI FILM was assembled by GILM, MILOBS and RBE and discussed the activities of “Media Literacy in School Libraries”. The VII FILM, in May 2021, debated online the “Media Literacy and Inequalities” in two panels: “Media Literacy and Digital Transition” and “Media Literacy: Inclusive Paths towards an Active Citizenship.

In 2022, considering the Russia-Ukraine conflict, GILM decided to promote a webinar centred in the question “Freedom of the media: victim of war?”

Also In 2022 GILM invited some Portuguese specialists and personalities with interest in the media literacy field to act as their Consultant Council, with the main purpose of advising about GILM working plans and annual objectives.  

Up to now, GILM’s initiatives have been supported by the work and the collaboration of its permanent members. In the case of the Congress it has been also financially supported by the participant’s registrations and by other stakeholders that include media literacy in their mission.

For more Information and to Register for the IV Congress Literacy, Media and Citizenship: Digital Transition and Public Policies, visit the webpage


Fernanda Bonacho, Professor Adjoint & Coordinator of the Master’s Course in Journalism, Escola Superior de Comunicação Social, Portugal