Posted by: robertheinz | October 22, 2012

The importance of media literacy

While reading about the representation of sex and gender as well as ethnicity and culture in today’s media world, I had to think about a recent conversation with a friend of mine from the Bay area. A couple of years ago she quit her job in PR and became a teacher at an inner-city school in Oakland, CA with Teach For America. She told me that her class, which only consists of African-American and Latino children from poor social backgrounds, did not have a single computer at their school that is accessible for students. I said: “What, really? In 2012?”.

According to Douglas Kellner, adequate media literacy is important to “understand, interpret, and criticize [the media’s] meanings and messages”.  Without that capability, dominant representations in the media of sex, gender and ethnicity might be just reinstated and “unwillingly forced” on to the illiterate media consumer (Kellner, D., 1994.).

With all the discourse that is surrounding the presidential debates about the importance of education, I believe that we as media professionals have to advocate for better global media literacy and internet access. Media literacy seems like a no-brainer to us – but it sure isn’t for the kids in my friend’s class.

But does the internet really have the potential to break-up this cycle of dominant representations in mass media? Or will it be just more of the same?

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