In Chapter 2 of Converging Media: A New Introduction to Mass Communication, “Media Literacy and Ethics,” we are introduced to the concept of media literacy and how to develop it in ourselves. Explain what media literacy is and discuss how media literate you yourself are. How many sources of news and information do you consult a day? Do you concern yourself with which companies own which television networks, film production companies, newspapers, recording labels, etc.? Do you think about the messages conveyed in advertising?
Media Literacy is a subject that is gaining relevance in the Information Age that we inhabit today. This is because a passive digestion of news content that is offered on a platter is unlikely to lead to a healthy understanding of that content. This is especially true in the highly privatized and commercialized environment of today, where much corporate and political propaganda gets passed on as objective news. Hence, there is no doubt as to the importance of Media Literacy to the general public. Yet, it is only a fraction of the population that could claim to possess a critical understanding of how different mediums of information operate. (Pavlik & McIntosh, 2011) The rest of this essay will foray into what all comprise Media Literacy and also analyze how media literate the author of this essay is.
Firstly, media literacy seeks to address the proliferation of new literacy practices
“in an increasingly mobile, global, digital world. Broadly analogous to print literacy, media literacy promotes the analysis (reading) and production (writing) of texts in a variety of forms. In practice, conflicting assumptions about the definitions, practices, and impact of media literacy are at the heart of contentious debates about its fundamental aims, purposes, and value. Consequently, as media literacy promotes greater access to a wider range of tools and texts, it is increasingly mired in age-old debates about the uses of literacy to frame, shape, and control public discourse. In the process, it touches on the relationships between media literacy, cultural narratives, and the arts.” (Tyner, 2009, p.3)
One of the key features of Media Literacy is the cultivation of strategies for a scientific analysis of media content. In this sense, Media literacy can be said to offer the citizens a range of critical approaches to gain insight into the nature of media content. Those studying the media should understand that it is merely the messenger of information without any inherent moral character. What ascertains the value is the list of attributes attached to it, including “who is producing the message, what the function is, and the target audience.” (Silverblatt, 2007, p.4)