CECS launches Observatory on Media, Information and Literacy (MILObs)

More than 50 people were present on Friday, July 6, at the presentation ceremony of MILObs, Observatory on Media, Information and Literacy, from the Communication and Society Research Centre at the University of Minho in a partnership with the Informal Group of Literacy Mediática (GILM).

On the table were the coordinators of MILObs, Manuel Pinto and Sara Pereira, the director of CECS, Moisés de Lemos Martins, the Commissioner of the National Reading Plan, Teresa Calçada and the media education expert and vice-rector of the University of Valladolid (Spain), Agustín García Matilla.

A little of history…

The ceremony was the official start of an Observatory which, as Manuel Pinto explained, had long been thought of. The idea came at the end of 2009, early 2010, when CECS received an order from the Regulatory Entity for Social Communication (ERC) to carry out a study on Media Education in Portugal (which would lead to the book Education for the Media in Portugal: Experiences, Actors and Contexts. This commission led the authors to feel the need for “anything that supported, reunited, helped to easily find the information”.

The idea, Manuel Pinto recalled, was taken from the beginning by the Informal Group of Media Literacy (GILM) and, in April 2011, gained written form, in point 3 of the Declaration of Braga, leaving the First National Congress of Literacy, Media and Citizenship.

Watch, but not only …

Contextualized the birth and the process of gestation of the idea, the coordinator of MILObs stressed that the Observatory is understood as a networking that, “in addition to the most direct partners, also intends to join who is investigating and who is on the ground to intervene”. Being a repository of resources, with a marked digital presence, MILObs intends to go further, taking initiatives in the field of training, providing services, launching publications and materials in different formats, he finished.

An idea reinforced by Sara Pereira, also coordinator of MILObs: “The Observatory is not only to observe but also to do, act, take a position”. It was up to the researcher and teacher of the CECS to guide those present in a virtual visit to the Observatory’s website (milobs.pt), organized in four axes: policies (national and international); practices (highlighting the intervention component and highlighting experiences and initiatives that have taken place or are ongoing); training (dissemination of the existing offer); research (past and present).


For Sara Pereira, the great advantage of the site is “to gather documents, materials, people, helping to cope with the enormous dispersion of information that exists and serving as the basis for the work we want to accomplish.” Being a participatory network, Sara Pereira ended the intervention by launching an appeal to those who work in the area of Media Literacy to communicate to MILObs the initiatives, projects and investigations she is carrying out.

Complex Readings

Teresa Calçada focused communication on the challenges that the world today, and in particular technology, poses to readers. “Being a reader today means being critical.” Without this dimension, “we are just literate,” he said. The NLP Commissioner has identified a number of challenges to readers today (the impoverishment of messages, in form and content, soundbytes, monolithic thinking reinforced by algorithms …), expressing concern about what are often the consequences of such practices: manipulation, instrumentalization, weakening of democratic society. For Teresa Calçada, culture and knowledge are the solutions, allowing to find “a niche of freedom”.

The importance of having a critical position also spoke, Agustín García Matilla. He recalled his Catalan colleague Joan Ferrés, for whom critical thinking is not enough, and a critical attitude is fundamental. In a tone of criticism, precisely because of the way in which the current educational system, which separates knowledge from “artificially stagnant areas”, Matilla defended a school that made students feel protagonists of their learning. Something that from his point of view does not happen: “This system of education has taught us that we are not important.” For the professor of the University of Valladolid it is necessary to bear in mind that “the changes are not in the leyes, but in the people” and that, with commitment and implication, the reality can be transformed.

With speeches that, more than ideas, transmitted dreams, Teresa Calçada and Augustín Matilla led Manuel Pinto to finish off the launch session: “We do not take an Observatory from here. We took a Revolution”.

Text: Joana Fillol