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Your Media Literacy is key to understanding the ways in which media media messages teach you what to think about yourself and others. So many of us would like to think that media does not have a significant impact on our thoughts and behavior but it does and denying this is not only unreasonable but ultimately unintelligent.
In fact, Third Person Effects theory explain how many of of us think that we can “outthink” or “outsmart media messages but that those same messages affect our neighbors or children instead. The truth is that in a media saturated world we would not be human if media does not have any influence on us all.
So, how do we make sure that in this media driven society that we are actively and critically engaged in media so not to be persuaded by some of the potential damaging effects on our self-esteem?
I have been thinking so much about the many media theories and ideas that I have read during my graduate study but the ones that will help you the most actually come from an undergraduate course book that I love to teach from on how to read everyday media that is accessible and practical.
That book is Introduction to Mass Communication: Media Literacy and Culture by Stanley J. Baran and will be the basis for my discussions surrounding how to become a media literate individual. I want to use this book because the purpose of this forum is to teach a wide range of readers how to selectively use media that will enhance a positive self concept and I think this book is the most accessible and practical.
The following are a summary of the eight elements of media literacy from the Baran text in the form of questions.
If you answer no to or are unsure about any of the following questions then you are not media literate and will want to continue following this blog so you can become more media literate which I believe is your civic duty and moral duty.
1. (Critical Thinking) Why do you watch certain films, buy certain products, listen to the genre of music that you listen to, and even read the books that you read?
2. (Mass Communication Process) How do media industry operate, how many companies (or how few) own all the media that you consume and thereby control what you think about yourself and others?
3. (Awareness of Impact) Are you convinced that media does not have an impact on you decisions?
4. (Analyzing) How much do you know about pre-production, production, and post production of the media that you use?
5. (Media content) How much do you assume about a person of a different ethnicity or someone from a different country based on how the media portrays them instead of being immersed in that country outside of its tourist areas? How many persons of different ethnicity have you had a long lasting personal and loving relationship with outside of work or another relationship of circumstance or convenience?
6. (Media appreciation) Are you a person that will never see the same movie more than once, how about more than ten times or twenty? Have you ever read a book more than once? Or a bible text, a poem or article over and over and each time, you came to appreciate it even more.
7. (Creating your own media) Can you produce a mini move on your computer or within your camcorder?
8. (Standards of Right or Wrong) What standards do media industry have when they are re-imaging individuals or groups of people? Do you know standards of teaching media literacy in your local schools?