Friday, February 9, 2007

Beyond Primetime: Will Media Help Grow Healthier Kids?

The Kids And The Media Conference 2007 just finished in New York City, awesome info for any rational, intelligent parent raising children into this nightmare world. Below are some notes of mine from a media literacy workshop which my business partners from Last Word Books and I delivered at the Olympia Public Library several years ago. Thanks Dadventure for the link!

dictionary definitions of ‘media’ and ‘literacy’

media – plural of medium

medium – a channel of communication;

a publication, or broadcast, that carries advertising

there we go, as early as my 1971 Webster’s Dictionary, advertising is inextricably linked to media

literacy – the quality or state of being literate

literate – educated, cultured, the ability to read and write

media literacy is defined as “the development of skills to empower persons to be both critical thinkers and creative producers of an increasingly wide range of messages using image, language & sound.”

now we’ve all heard Marshall McLuhan’s famous aphorism: “The medium is the message.” So, how the message is conveyed is just as important, if not more so, than what it has to say.

now remember, media is a representation of reality, only one representation, not the representation. We are representations of reality, you and me and everyone here. And media is a constructed representation, a machine, not a human being.

one of my primary arguments is that the person sitting next to you is just as valid a source of news as a newspaper these days and they don’t cost $1.50 on Sundays. And really, what good is reading the newspaper if you don’t talk to anyone about what you’ve just read? Where does your media come from?

Check your sources. 1st hand info is more reliable than 2nd hand info. Like the game telephone, each conduit thru which a piece of news passes is a filter, a lens through which that piece of news can be distorted, whether it be by accident (misinformation) or on purpose (disinformation). Take everything with a grain of salt and research all sides of an argument.

Know this: Media literacy does not give you the answers. It gives you the ability to ask the right questions…and the left questions. How often do we question things as opposed to accepting them on blind faith?

Media Literacy is also defined as: “The ability to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms.” The ability to communicate across cultural, social and economic boundaries, the ability to read and write and indeed begin to rewrite the world itself, and to be a good writer or reader, one must have a love for life as well as a love for language. Bad journalism can love language while disrespecting life, can be well written but distort the facts, be persuasive towards its points but ultimately dishonest. Rachel Carson, one of the most powerful figures on the Environmental Front throughout the 20th century said: “You must ask yourselves: Who Speaks? And Why?” What media sources do you find biased and how and why do you deem them so?

Context is crucial. Reported Israeli deaths versus unreported Palestinian deaths is a great example of media bias. What are the motives and political agendas behind the media? Who’s not being heard? Was anything taken out of context? To what end? Indeed, content and intent are two very different things. Look beyond the letters, look past the flashing lights, read in between the lines and listen through the sounds and background music. Media has ulterior motives.

In 1977, entertainment news averaged 15% of total content on televised evening news; by 1997 that number rose to 43% of total content. Celebrity gossip, movie advertisements, name brand clothing and products pushed on daily sit-coms.

Why is control of public information moved into the hands of the private sector? Why is our news controlled by corporations looking out for number one? How does mainstream media define patriotism? How do media and politics interact? If media literacy is about receiving information from a wide variety of sources, then why is our mass media controlled by eleven companies? I, for one, would rather receive my news from four million people as opposed to four.

Change starts small, understanding media helps you to better understand your neighbor’s point of view, regardless of whether or not you agree with them. Just talk to people, that’s all I ask. I know I’ve asked a lot of questions but we do have the tools to find the answers.


Anonymous said...

Here is a better definition:
"Media literacy is concerned with helping students develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature of mass media, the techniques used by them, and the impact of these techniques. More specifically, it is education that aims to increase the students' understanding and enjoyment of how the media work, how they produce meaning, how they are organized, and how they construct reality.
Media literacy also aims to provide students with the ability to create media products. "
( Media Literacy Resource Guide, Ministry of Education Ontario, 1997) Frank Baker

Anonymous said...

well... actually I think you are totally mistaken and egregiously wrong, to put it matter-of-factly. Your definition deals with the most mundane aspects of reactionary tendencies to the ideas put forth in my definitions, which, I might add, are far better than yours, as your source also cites my sources for reference.

in the future I would recommend that you phrase your criticisms a bit more frugally, thusly leaving insults to the more barbaric hordes biding someone else's time.

in my meantime, of which i have much, i would appreciate a nicer tone employed when addressing your fellow bloggers. instead of pretending towards fundamentalist ideals, wby not word your spells in a fashion more conducive to opening the minds of others? touche dear friend, touche. which in french means: "you are a bigger asshole than I am."

seminalson said...

hey there,
I go by seminalson, which is the name of the fathering and relationship blog I've have been writing - but have put on hold for a bit.

I'm going to head back to my blog, which sometimes is so deep emotionally, it sends me into body memories so then I decide to stop writing for a bit.

Sometimes the memories feel too powerful, and I'm still struggling. It is hard, but I 'm going to back.

Anyway, I'll be checking out more of your stuff. You have put a lot of work into your blog, and good for you.

With the help of my partner, I begin and plow thru some of my *stuff*. (I think she left you a note saying *I'd be visiting*)

By the way, one of your commentators in your "BEYOND THE PRIMETIME" is a total loser. I think it OK to disagree with you but the person basically throws some bombs at your stuff and runs off (you can't communicate with her or him in a constructive way cause they're *anonymous*)

I think they just don't like you.
Oh well... life goes on...
Anyway, hope to be talking to you. Good for you for publishing the person's comments anyway.

I enjoy reading what you put out.