Information serves different purposes. Proper use of information depends on how well you can identify the information you need and your ability to locate, understand, and evaluate available information. Ask yourself: What is the information for? What sources will provide quality information for your chosen topic?
Media and other providers of information play different roles to meet our different information needs. We often hear that the role of media is to inform and to educate. In fact, there is a difference between the two:
- To inform is to provide relevant data on a specific subject. Sometimes, this data is limited to a specific group of people.
- To educate is to go beyond providing relevant information by helping people gain a deeper knowledge through additional data, context, and analysis of information
The role of a sales brochure about a new smartphone is to inform potential buyers of its features. The role of a consumer website that compares different phones based on price and features is to educate consumers about their choices. According to the UNESCO Media and Information Literacy Manual, the best sources of information are fair, objective, lack hidden motives, and show quality.
Other roles of media providers are:
- fo facilitate teaching and learning process;
- to provide access to all types of information;
- to serve as gateway to information;
- to promote universal values and civil rights such as freedom of expression, speech, and of the press;
- so serve as society’s collective memory;
- to gather more information;
- to preserve cultural heritage; and
- to entertain.
The word information is not limited to “serious news.” All forms of content in media are considered information and all information is a message. Let us learn more about what this means.