Potiatynyk Borys

Media Literacy in Western Ukraine: Focus on Children and TV Violence.

Media Literacy is very important in USA but it seems even more important for the posttotalitarian countries such as Ukraine. That is a reason, why we, representatives of such society, are working on Media Literacy problems. It was astonishing to discover well established programs on media literacy in US. Though it has been developing here for over half a century, we, in Ukraine (and on the territory of former Soviet Union) knew very little or nothing about this field. Soviet media did not like it because it did not fit a propagandistic view of a declining and "rotten" bourgeois society. Media Literacy with its sense of responsibility for the state of informational environment contradicted to the official Soviet picture of the West. After the breakup of the Soviet Union gates became open for a new information. It was really an ocean of new information so nobody could digest it in a short time. Thus the role of a western missionaries, who flooded the New Independent States was very important on the first stage of postotalitarian period as they could emphasize the most important, from their point of view, information. And they did it. In the sphere of mass media it was predominantly a freedom of the press, but nothing associated with a sense of responsibility in terms of media education. Meanwhile in posttotalitarian countries polluted information sphere is bound to become a burning issue in the very near future.

In posttotalitarian countries polluted mass communication sphere, is bound to become a burning issue in the very near future. Just like in the domain of Ukrainian economy what gets done there sometimes resembles the 'wild capitalism' (its criminal and "nomenklatura" version) of the nineteenth century similarly in the sphere of mass communication the new free press is presently going through a stage of 'wild freedom'. Which for many gets to be associated with chaos and irresponsible attitude.

The mass culture of the West practically banned and anathematized in those years just like a forbidden fruit acquired in the eyes of the average TV viewer an aura of attractiveness. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the 'iron curtain' the cheapest, most inferior and often obscene produce of the Western mass culture inundated the East, including Ukraine.

The situation described is definitely in an urgent need of correction, although not on the part of the state but through mechanisms of civic society, through a greater emphasis on social accountability and moral values. American expertise may be very valuable in this respect.