Tuesday, September 12, 2017

SocietyMassCom: Media Literacy, Definitions and Paradigms (W4-P3) Fa17

Media literacy is both a field of study and an education process.  As a field of study, media literacy scholars and educators engaged movement for 40 years, initially sparked by a concern of the negative effective of media especially on children.
According to Potter (2010), “[t]here is a growing literature to help teachers who want to develop a course or even a single presentation on media literacy“ (p. 683).  However, as Baker (2016) claims “[m]any educators know how to teach with media; unfortunately, not many know how to teach about the media.”.  

Did you get media literacy training when in grade school and high school?
As an educational process, media literacy is composed of two key components, media texts and literacy.  Media texts are TV programs, films, books, newspaper articles, video games, etc. (Buckingham, 2003).  Literacy is, in general, the ability to read and write and thus within this context, more broadly, the ability to interpret and compose media texts.  Media literacy has been defined as …
  • “a critical -thinking skill that enables audiences to decipher the information that they received through the channels of mass communications and empowers them to develop independent judgment about media content” Silverblatt & Eliceiri (1997, p. 48).
  • “the process of critically analyzing and learning to create one’s own messages in print, audio, video, and multimedia” Hobbs (1998, p. 16).
As the variety of definitions given suggest, there is some apparent disparity within the field on the definition of media literacy.  Within the field of media literacy studies there has been a debate between the protectionist paradigm which sees media literacy as a way to protect against the negative effects of media, especially on children, by learning how to critically analyze media texts (Hobbs, 2011).  The empowerment paradigm, on the other hand, promotes the idea of students learning how to produce their own media texts.  Potter argues that this debate is a false dichotomy (2011).  The paradigms are not mutually exclusive and are indeed complementary (Potter, 2011; Hoechsmann & Poyntz, 2012).  As Buckingham noted in 2003, media literacy “aims to develop both critical understanding and active participation” (loc 178).
Paradigm: “such a cognitive framework shared by members of any discipline or group” (Dictionary.com).  It is a way of thinking, a general perspective, that a group of researchers share.  

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