What Is Media Literacy?

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What is Media Literacy?
What do the experts have to say about media literacy? What's the difference between media literacy and media education? Here are a few answers. | |
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What is Media Literacy?

Media literacy is the ability to sift through and analyze the messages that inform, entertain and sell to us every day. It's the ability to bring critical thinking skills to bear on all media— from music videos and Web environments to product placement in films and virtual displays on NHL hockey boards. It's about asking pertinent questions about what's there, and noticing what's not there. And it's the instinct to question what lies behind media productions— the motives, the money, the values and the ownership— and to be aware of how these factors influence content.

Media education encourages a probing approach to the world of media: Who is this message intended for? Who wants to reach this audience, and why? From whose perspective is this story told? Whose voices are heard, and whose are absent? What strategies does this message use to get my attention and make me feel included?

In our world of multi-tasking, commercialism, globalization and interactivity, media education isn't about having the right answers—it's about asking the right questions. The result is lifelong empowerment of the learner and citizen.

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The 3 Stages of Media Literacy

Media literacy is an overall term that incorporates three stages of a continuum leading to media empowerment:

The first stage is simply becoming aware of the importance of managing one's media "diet"— that is, making choices and reducing the time spent with television, videos, electronic games, films and various print media forms.

The second stage is learning specific skills of critical viewing— learning to analyze and question what is in the frame, how it is constructed and what may have...
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