Oct 31 – Nov 4, 2016
It’s Media Literacy Week! Take the media literacy pledge: I pledge to think critically about the media I consume and create. http://woobox.com/56mwyp/i2hq7c
After you’ve taken the pledge, check out a week of amazing events and resources, including not-to-be-missed webinars from Project Look Sharp (Nov 1 on teaching Presidential Campaigns), Facing History and the News Literacy Project (Nov 3 on news literacy and implicit bias), and the Media Education Lab (on teaching about propaganda). And there’s so much more. If you’re in St. Louis, join me for a workshop for early childhood professionals on Nov 4 or for parents on Nov 5. Contact the Gateway Media Literacy Partners for details (www.gmlpstl.org).
Halloween is a great time to introduce an important media literacy vocabulary word: “costume.” Help children gain an awareness of how media are constructed by pointing out that they aren’t the only ones who put on costumes. Except for people in news stories, nearly everyone on TV and in movies is also wearing a costume, even when they look like “regular” people. For kids in early elementary grades, you might also talk about the difference between “costumes” (clothes that people wear when they are pretending to be someone else) and “uniforms” (special clothes that some people wear for work).
If your kids have favorite TV programs that feature actual humans (as opposed to animation), you might also search for videos that take viewers behind the scenes, including into the wardrobe department. Here are a few examples:
Stuck in the Middle KC Undercover Supergirl
Keep in mind that these are posted by people trying to entice potential viewers to watch the show and that YouTube has ads and links to other videos. These are based, in part, on your past browsing history and may not be appropriate for young children. Supervise accordingly.
Rigged Media? Some Quick Thoughts
Presidential candidate Donald Trump has spent a lot of time at campaign events claiming that journalists are conspiring against him. There are lots of reason to criticize news media in the U.S. – more on that in future posts – but the notion that journalists are “bad people” and “liars,” especially without citing any evidence, is exceptionally damaging to the prospect of creating a media literate America (not to mention the future of democracy!). Instead of encouraging people to think critically about news media, Trump is asking people to reject the possibility that any news story might have merit (unless, of course, the report confirms his narrative of the world). So here are a few thoughts for those who are attracted to the notion of news media conspiracies:
- The major news media are competitors, and if they seem like an echo chamber, it’s because they are all based on the same commercial revenue generation model rather than service to the public interest. That’s not the same thing as a conspiracy.
- The word “media” is a plural noun, and using its correct form is an important reminder of it’s diversity. If you must generalize, it’s “Media are…”, not “THE media is…”
- Real journalists fact check. So when you cite reports from conspiracy theorists (like Alex Jones) or activists who have a track record of intentionally distorting video to create false stories (like the misleadingly named Project Veritas), you can’t then complain when credible journalists don’t repeat what you say. It’s not because they are biased against you; it’s because they value facts and evidence.
- The Trump campaign has used the sparsity of reports on Bill Clinton’s sexual misbehavior and the seemingly insatiable focus on his own sexual conduct as evidence that media are biased against him. To those folks I offer this reminder: See that word “new” in “news”? There’s a reason that K-8 teachers call teaching about the news “current events.” Reporting on twenty year old accusations isn’t what journalists do, unless something new related to the story comes up. So of course they aren’t spending a lot of time covering (again) Bill Clinton’s sexual improprieties from the eighties and nineties but they are covering each new accusation against Mr. Trump. And by the way, cheap stunts, no matter how creative or obnoxious, don’t make old stories new again.
DON’T FORGET TO VOTE! : )