Media literacyMedia literacy
is the skill of understanding the nature of communications, particularly in regard to telecommunications
and mass media
The concept applies to a variety of ideas that attempt to explain how media convey their messages and why.
Major topics discussed as a part of media literacy include
- The technology of telecommunications
- The business aspects of mass media such as broadcasting
- In particular, this includes the business and function of advertising
- The interaction of media and government
- The nature of journalism and the problem of media bias
- The sociopolitical nature of the media's content such as the depiction of social stereotypes and violence.
The concept of media literacy as topic of education first really arose in the 1980s
and has become a standard topic of study in school
in many countries. For example, media literacy is part of the government-directed curricula in Great Britain
. It is less widespread in the U.S., in large part because there is no central authority making nationwide curriculum recommendations: Each of the fifty states has numerous school districts, each of which operates with a great degree of independence from one another.
Note that outside the U.S., media literacy is frequently referred to as media education. There is considerable overlap between the two terms, and they are nearly synonymous; however, those who espouse media education generally embrace the media as a site of pleasure, whereas some of those who espouse media literacy take an inoculationist approach, seeking to protect children from what they perceive as its harmful effects.
Proponents of media literacy include:
- Marshall McLuhan - an early Canadian theorist into the nature of media
- Noam Chomsky - an American linguist and political analyst most famous for his observations about corporate media's role in propaganda, which he describes as the 'manufacturing of consent'.
- Jean Baudrillard - a French sociologist and philosopher known for his writings about media, virtuality, and the Gulf War.
- Neil Postman (1931-2003) - a media ecologist and author of numerous popular press books, including Amusing Ourselves to Death
- Renee Hobbs - a leading authority on media education