Media literacy and information literacy: Similarities and differences

Alice Y L LEE, Clement Y.K. So

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


In knowledge society, there is currently a call for cultivating a combination of media literacy and information literacy. This, however, requires cooperation from these two separate fields of study, and uncertainty regarding their boundaries hinders a smooth merger. It is unclear whether they are subsets of each other or separate entities. In this study, we have explored the relationship between these two fields by empirically mapping out their territories and discussing their similarities and differences. We have made use of the Web of Science database to delineate the content and boundary of these two fields. Our findings from 1956 to 2012 show that the two fields have different authors, university affiliations, and journals; they also differ in terms of academic origin, scope, and social concern. Information literacy has a closer tie to library science, while media literacy is more related to media content, media industry, and social effects. Due to their different academic orientations, the two fields adopt different analytical approaches. We have found that media literacy is not a subset of information literacy as some scholars have suggested, although the two fields have similarities. They share the same goal, and their publications overlap in terms of subject areas, countries of origin, and titles. The two fields could find common ground by cooperating together to contribute to the promotion of new literacy in knowledge societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-145
Number of pages9
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Education

User-Defined Keywords

  • Boundary work
  • Communication technology skills
  • Information literacy
  • Knowledge society
  • Media literacy
  • Web of Science


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