Media Literacy Research
The Center for Media Literacy also goes ahead to provide a list of what media literacy is not. Included in the list are media bashing, mere production of media, looking for political misrepresentations in media, looking at media messages from one perspective, and warning people not to watch certain content. As Potter notes, not all information presented to us is useful in building a knowledge structure (Potter, 18). He adds that media literacy insists on the questions of “why” and “how,” not only on the superficial question of “what. ” This way media literacy enables the audience to make sense of the information they receive. The second phase was the inoculation phase in which educators integrated stupid media messages into teaching to show learners just how valueless it was.
After the inoculation phase came the third phase in which teachers used popular media to invite kids to get into ‘more serious’ areas of study. Media education is still in transition, Walsh adds, and we are now living through the fourth phase where educators are teaching about and with the media that students use every day. Evidently, developments in media literacy notions are continuous, and the initial concepts were contributory to the ideas of media education that exist today. The development of media literacy through the phases discussed above has been made possible by the approaches adopted by media educators at different stages. The primary purpose of media literacy education is to enable the audience to make good sense of the information that they get every day off print media, television, or social media.
According to Potter, people need to have knowledge structures to provide them with the context to use when trying to make sense of each media message (Potter, 18). He adds that the knowledge structures needed for audiences to make sense of the messages they receive should be strong in the following five areas; media content, media effect, media industries, the real world and the self (Potter, 19). The more knowledge structures an individual has, the more confident he or she is in making sense of a wide range of messages. People who have a more extensive range of experience in the real world, for example, are better at appreciating and analyzing media messages than those with a narrower range of experience. Media literacy is an indispensable skill in this age.
In a world full of “fake news,” it is important that individuals learn to read well, make sense of information, separate information and make wise decisions based on the messages they absorb. Media literacy is as important to the creators of content as it is to the recipients of the created content. The first benefit of media literacy is that it teaches one to think critically (Silverblatt, 101). Media literacy is a critical thinking skill that encourages an individual to ask the question of what the substance, source, and significance of any element of a message is. A media literate will accordingly recognize the divergence between his or her own goals and the media’s business goals and take alternative steps (Potter, 31).
Additionally, media literacy allows persons to determine what is credible or not, and become smart consumers of information and goods. A media literate can separate the persuasive intent of advertising from the actual need for a product, thus resist the techniques of marketing that sellers use in the media. Thirdly, as one’s media literacy increases, so does one’s appetite for a wider variety of media messages (Potter, 28). From books and magazines, to television and websites, the media offers a wide range of choices for its audience. Through the use of skills imparted to them by media literacy education, creators recognize their point of view and know how best to put across what they have to communicate articulately. Moreover, getting educated on media literacy helps the creators understand the impact that their productions have, and are therefore keener on responsible production.
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