Media Literacy Basics

For those wanting to be truly media literate, it's crucial to understand that all media messages contain embedded values and points of view. Further, all media messages contain at least two types of values and at least two points of view - those of the creator, and those of the audience.

To illustrate this point, consider an evening newscast on local television. Although we would like to believe that news is unbiased and free of prejudice, this isn't the case. Even by a simple choice of words, such as calling someone a "victim", a "gang member", or a "suspect", prejudice is being introduced into the message.

The people who write the newscast are using their point of view to present news about the world to their audience. Media creators produce media using their own background and experiences as reference points. Since everyone is different, everyone has a different point of view of the world.

To be free of bias, the newscasters would need to refer to each person they talk about as a "person" - "this person was arrested", "this person is in the hospital". Even then, we're showing a bias for being humans. And in this case, the news would be boring, which means it probably wouldn't be watched by many people.

Media messages also must contain the values of their audience members in order to be accepted by them. For example, although a newspaper editor might want to expose a large local company for wrong doing (the editor's bias), he or she might not do it because it could mean many lost jobs for the readers of the newspaper. The audience would either reject the story, lowering the credibility or readership of the newspaper, or it may damage the local economy, which may in turn affect the newspaper's own business. These are decisions media creators need to make each day.

Search Understand Media

Media Literacy: 3rd Edition

media literacy 3rd edition

Media Literacy is a critical skill students must learn to succeed in today's tech-driven, media-saturated society. This book helps students understand media literacy, and how to implement and share that knowledge with others. As an experienced media literacy expert and professor, Nick Pernisco provides a well-researched guide for learning this important critical thinking skill and using it in everyday life. This is a must-read for anyone interested in learning how to interpret the enormous amounts of information we are exposed to every day, both in traditional media and online. Buy it now!