Media literacy low in Czech Republic, says curator of National Museum exhibition

29-11-2005

Zlate casy medii (The Golden Age of Media) is the name of an exhibition which has just opened at the National Museum here in Prague. The museum's biggest exhibition of the year, it takes a look back at the history of mass media in this country and features several colourful interactive sections. Among its curators is academic and media analyst Jan Jirak; I asked him what the organisers were hoping to achieve.

"The aim of the exhibition is to show the development of the mass media over approximately the last one and a half centuries and to show the consequences of digital technologies for media production"

It's called The Golden Age of Media - when was the golden age, or is it now?

"The title is some kind of unusual reminiscence on a movie by Woody Allen. He made a movie called Radio Days which was translated into Czech as Golden Radio Days, or the Golden Days of the Radio. And we decided to paraphrase this title just to let people know that we believe that the golden age of media is now."

How media literate are Czech people?

"I think that the media literacy of Czech society is not very high. The concept of media education is at the very beginning so the media education is not part of the curriculum of elementary and secondary schools. The level of intuition of media consumption is, I think, quite poor."

Is there a danger in the fact that so much Czech media is imported? A lot of TV shows and even forms of magazines, for instance [are imported].

"I'm not sure that danger is the right word. Definitely it's a trend which is stronger in the Czech Republic than in other countries, which is probably just a signal of the fact that Czech society is slightly ahead of other countries. Let's say just look at Czech media and you will see where you are heading."

The big story these days is so-called reality television, it's huge here - are you surprised how much it's been a success?

"I'm not surprised by that. The marketing of reality TV was quite well prepared, the synergic affect of print media is very high. But I believe that it's a short term...interest."

Would you say that in general Czech society, or Czech media, is becoming 'tabloidised', so to speak?

"Sure, sure it is. There's a high level of tabloidisation of the Czech media, I'm quite sure of that."

The exhibition is on at the National Museum until the end of March.

29-11-2005