New Book Launch: The digitization of media – a challenge for democracy

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In the age of digital communication, Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is more urgent than ever. In her new book, Ulla Carlsson, UNESCO Chair on Freedom of Expression, Media Development and Global Policy at University of Gothenburg, calls for new solutions as a part of a democracy strategy.

Around the world, citizens are struggling to bring about an internet that is open, free and safe – that is, to abolish surveillance, control, censorship, hate speech and threats. Meanwhile, nearly half of humanity still lacks internet access. Reports of malicious and targeted cyberattacks are becoming increasingly common around the world.

Many of the societal issues of today have to do with digitization and, not least, the ongoing transformation of media and communication culture. Following a period of optimism – especially the hopes that digitization would increase citizen engagement and participation ­– problems have surfaced.

This is the starting point for the new book ’Understanding Media and Information Literacy (MIL) in the Digital Age’ that will be launched at the UNESCO MIL Conference in Gothenburg 24-25 September, gathering 300 participants from 5 continents. The book is edited by Ulla Carlsson.

Google and Facebook
”No doubt that the complexities of modern society demand educated, skilled, communicative and reflective citizens in many different areas if democracy and social progress are to be maintained and developed”, she says. ”The many changes in the media and communication system are largely the work of new kinds of influential transnational actors like Google and Facebook. These  companies with their digital platforms have evolved into economic and socio-cultural phenomena with power to totally transform the relationships between technology, capital, content and users”.

This new media environment has opened the door to views and objectives that otherwise would not become so widely known. The risk of being exposed to misinformation and manipulation has never been greater. New ideas about freedom of expression come into play.

”Clearly, the balance between personal integrity, security and reliability is of crucial importance in this digital world”, says Ulla Carlsson, who emphasizes the importance of new approaches and solutions where Media and Information Literacy should be understood as a part of a whole that includes legislation and reforms in media, education and other fields of relevance ­– as part of a democratic strategy.

The book is a collaboration between University of Gothenburg, Region Västra Götaland and the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO. It is published by the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG).

Read the book online:

For further information, please contact Ulla Carlsson, email:, phone +46 (0) 31 786 1219, +46 (0)768 80 88 74

Journalists are welcome to the conference
For accreditation to the Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Feature Conference 2019 and the Youth Agenda Forum go to

Cajsa Malmström
Communications officer
Phone: +46 (0)70 422 27 85

University of Gothenburg is one of the major universities in Europe, with about 47 500 students and a staff of 6 400. Its eight faculties offer training in the Creative Arts, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Humanities, Education, Information Technology, Business, Economics and Law, and Health Sciences. The University’s unique breadth in education and research provides an interdisciplinary environment conducive to collaboration with private enterprise and public institutions. The quality of the University has earned recognition in the form of numerous awards, including a Nobel Prize, and a steady stream of applicants at all levels.