1.8 Media literacy – understanding media and culture (2023)

learning goals

  1. Define media literacy.
  2. Describe the role of individual responsibility and accountability in responding to pop culture.
  3. List the top five considerations for each media message.

Literacy—the ability to read and write—was a concern not only of educators in Gutenberg's and subsequent modern times, but also of politicians, social reformers, and philosophers. An educated population, many argued, would be able to seek information, keep abreast of the day's news, communicate effectively, and make informed decisions in many areas of life. Because of this, educated people were better citizens, parents, and workers. Centuries later, as literacy rates continued to increase around the world, a new feeling arose that just being able to read and write wasn't enough. In a media-saturated world, individuals needed to be able to sort through and analyze the information they were bombarded with on a daily basis. In the second half of the 20th century, the ability to decode and process the messages and symbols transmitted via media was namedmedia literacy. According to the nonprofit National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), a media literate person can access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate information. To put it another way, as John Culkin, a pioneering advocate of media literacy education, "The new mass media - film, radio, television - are new languages ​​whose grammar is still unknown (Moody, 1993)." Media literacy aims to provide media consumers with the ability to understand this new language. Media experts ask themselves the following questions:

  1. Who created the message?
  2. What are the author's credentials?
  3. Why was the message created?
  4. Is the message trying to get me to act or think a certain way?
  5. Does anyone make money for creating this message?
  6. Who is the target group?
  7. How do I know this information is correct?

Why be media literate?

Culkin called media proliferation "the unnoticed fact of our time," noting that media information is as ubiquitous and overlooked as the air we breathe (and, as he noted, "some would add, it's just as polluted ") (Moody, 1993). Our exposure to media starts early – a Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 68 percent of children ages 2 and younger spend an average of 2 hours each day in front of a screen (either computer or television), while children under 6 do spend a lot of time in front of a screen while playing outside (Lewin). US teenagers spend an average of 7.5 hours a day with media, almost as long as they spend in school. However, media literacy is not just a skill for young people. Today's Americans get much of their information from a variety of media sources—but not all of that information is created equal. A crucial role of media literacy education is to enable us to examine skeptically the often conflicting media messages we receive every day.


Many of the hours people spend with media relate to commercially sponsored content. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimated that every child ages 2 to 11 watched an average of 25,629 television commercials, or more than 10,700 minutes of advertising, in 2004 alone. Each adult saw an average of 52,469 ads, or about 15.5 days of television advertising (Holt, 2007). Children (and adults) are bombarded with conflicting messages – newspaper articles about the obesity epidemic run side by side with ads promoting soda, candy and fast food. The American Academy of Pediatrics claims that advertising aimed at children under the age of 8 is “inherently misleading” and exploitative because young children cannot distinguish between programs and commercials (Shifrin, 2005). Advertising often uses psychological pressure techniques to influence decision making. Ads can appeal to vanity, insecurity, prejudice, fear, or a spirit of adventure. This isn't always done to sell a product — anti-smoking public service announcements can rely on disgusting images of blackened lungs to shock viewers. Nonetheless, part of media literacy is teaching people to be cautious consumers and to be critical of claims.

Bias, Spin and Misinformation

Advertising can have the explicit goal of selling a product or idea, but it's not the only type of media message with an agenda. A politician may be hoping to convince potential voters that he has their best interests in mind. A supposedly objective journalist can allow her articles to be subtly skewed by her political leanings. Magazine writers may avoid criticizing companies that advertise heavily on their pages. News reporters can sensationalize stories to increase ratings - and advertising revenue.

(Video) What is Media Literacy?

Mass communication messages are created by individuals, and each person has their own set of values, assumptions, and priorities. Accepting media messages at face value could create confusion due to all of the conflicting information that is available. In 2010, for example, a hard-fought gubernatorial race in New Mexico resulted in conflicting ads from both candidates, Diane Denish and Susana Martinez, each claiming the other had approved policies that benefited sex offenders. According to Media Watchdog websiteFaktenCheck.org, the Denish team's ad "shows a teenage girl - apparently around 9 years old - descending a playground slide in slow motion while menacing music plays in the background and a narrator discusses two sex crime cases. It ends on an empty swing, as the narrator says, 'Today we don't know where these sex offenders are lurking because Susana Martinez wasn't doing her job.'" The counter-advertisement proclaims that "a department in Denish's cabinet gave sanctuary to criminal illegals such as child molester Juan Gonzalez (Robertson & Kiely, 2010).” Both claims are highly inflammatory, play on fear, and distort the reality behind any situation. Media literacy means educating people to look critically at this and other media messages, to sift through different messages, and to understand the conflicting information we encounter every day.

New skills for a new world

In the past, one goal of education was to provide students with the information deemed necessary for a successful engagement with the world. Students memorized multiplication tables, state capitals, famous poems and notable dates. Today, however, vast amounts of information are available at the click of a mouse. Even before the advent of the Internet, the well-known communications scientist David Berlo foresaw the consequences of the spread of information technology: "Most of what we call formal education was designed to inculcate in the human mind all the information we might need throughout our lives .” Changes in technology require changes in the way we learn, Berlo noted, and today “education needs to be about data manipulation, not data accumulation (Shaw, 2003)”.

Wikipedia, a hugely popular Internet encyclopedia, is at the forefront of the debate about the proper use of online resources. In 2007, Middlebury College banned the use ofWikipediaas a source in history papers and exams. One of the school's librarians remarked that the online encyclopedia "symbolizes the best and worst of the internet. This is the best because everyone gets a chance to speak and express their opinion. It's the worst, because people who use it uncritically take what is only opinion to be the truth (Byers, 2007).” Or, as comedian and satirist Stephen Colbert put it, “Any user can edit any entry, anytime enough other users agree with it, it becomes true (Colbert, 2006).' A computer registered with the US Democratic Party changed theWikipediaPage for Rush Limbaugh proclaiming he was "racist" and "fanatic" and it was discovered that a person who worked for electronic voting machine maker Diebold had deleted paragraphs connecting the company to Republican campaign funds brought (Fildes, 2007). Media literacy teaches today's students how to sort through the Internet cloud of data, find reliable sources, and identify bias and unreliable sources.

Individual responsibility and popular culture

Ultimately, media literacy involves teaching that images are constructed with different purposes and that it is up to the individual to evaluate and interpret these media messages. Mass communication can be created and distributed by individuals, corporations, governments, or organizations, but it is always received by an individual. Education, life experience, and a host of other factors make each person interpret constructed media in different ways; There is no right way to interpret a media message. But overall, better media literacy helps us function better in our media-rich environment, making us better democratic citizens, smarter shoppers, and more skeptical media consumers. When analyzing media messages, consider the following:

  1. Author:Consider who is presenting the information. Is it a news organization, a company, or an individual? What links do they have to the information they provide? A news channel might be owned by the company it is reporting on; Likewise, a person may have financial reasons for supporting a particular message.
  2. Format:Television and print media often use images to grab people's attention. Do the pictures only present one side of the story? Is the footage overly graphic or designed to evoke a specific reaction? Which celebrities or professionals support this message?
  3. Audience:Imagine yourself in someone else's shoes. Would someone of the opposite sex feel the same about this message as you do? How might someone of a different race or nationality think about this? How might an older or younger person interpret this information differently? Was this message made to appeal to a specific audience?
  4. Contents:Even content providers trying to present information objectively can have an unconscious bias. Analyze who is presenting this message. Does he or she have clear political affiliations? Is he or she being paid to speak or write this information? What unconscious influences might be at work?
  5. Purpose:Nothing is communicated by the mass media without a reason. What reaction do you want the message to evoke? Are you told to feel or act a certain way? Examine the information carefully and look for possible ulterior motives.

With these considerations as a starting point, we can ensure that we remain informed about where our information is coming from and why it is being broadcast - important steps in any media literacy education (Center for Media Literacy).

The central theses

  • Media literacy, or the ability to decipher and process media messages, is particularly important in today's media-saturated society. The media surrounds today's Americans on an unprecedented scale and from an early age. Because media messages are created with specific goals in mind, a media savvy person will interpret them with a critical eye. Ads, bias, spin and misinformation are all things to watch out for.
  • Individual responsibility is critical to media literacy because while media messages can be created by individuals, businesses, governments or organizations, they are always received and deciphered by individuals.
  • When analyzing media messages, consider the author, format, audience, content, and purpose of the message.
(Video) How Do I Do Critical Media Literacy?


List the considerations for evaluating media messages, and then search the Internet for information about a recent event. Select a blog post, news article or video on the topic and identify the author, format, audience, content and purpose of your chosen topic. Then answer the following questions. Each answer should be at least one paragraph long.

  1. How did your impression of the information change after answering the five questions? Do you think other questions need to be asked?
  2. Is it difficult or easy to practice media literacy online? What opportunities are there to practice media literacy for TV or radio broadcasts?
  3. Do you think the public has a responsibility to be media literate? Why or why not?

Rating at the end of the chapter

review questions

  1. Part 1

    1. What is the difference between mass communication and mass media?
    2. How does culture affect the media?
    3. What influence does the media have on culture?
  2. Section 2

    1. Name four roles the media play in society.
    2. Identify historical events that shaped the adoption of various mass communication platforms.
    3. How have technological changes affected the media over time?
  3. Section 3

    1. What is convergence and what are some examples of it in daily life?
    2. What five types of convergence did Jenkins identify?
    3. How do different forms of convergence shape the digital age on an individual and societal level?
  4. Section 4

    (Video) Unit 1 : Media Literacy

    1. How does the value of free speech impact American culture and media?
    2. What restrictions are there on freedom of expression and how do they reflect societal values?
    3. What is propaganda and how does it reflect and/or influence social values?
    4. Who are gatekeepers and how do they influence the media landscape?
  5. Section 5

    1. What is a culture period?
    2. How have events, technological advances, political changes, and philosophies helped shape modernity?
    3. What are some of the key differences between modernism and postmodernism?
  6. Section 6

    1. What is media literacy and why is it relevant in today's world?
    2. What role does the individual play in interpreting media messages?
    3. What are the five considerations for evaluating media messages?

Critical thinking questions

  1. What does the history of media technology teach us about America today? How could current and new technologies change our cultural landscape in the near future?
  2. Are gatekeepers and tastemakers necessary for mass media? How does the internet help us to rethink these roles?
  3. The idea of ​​cultural epochs assumes that social and technological changes lead to dramatic changes in people's view of the world. How have digitization and the Internet changed how people interact with their environment and with each other? Are we changing into a new cultural epoch or is life today still a continuation of postmodernism?
  4. US law regulates freedom of speech through laws on obscenity, copyright infringement and other things. Why are some forms of expression protected and others not? How do you think cultural values ​​will change US media law in the near future?
  5. Does media literacy belong in US schools? Why or why not? What could a media literacy curriculum look like?

professional connection

In a media-saturated world, companies use consultants to analyze and manage the interaction between their organizations and the media. Independent consultants develop projects, keep abreast of media trends and advise based on industry reports. Or, as author, speaker, and media consultant Merlin Mann put it: “The key task is to remain curious about everything, identify the points at which two forces could collide, and then enthusiastically share what that might mean and why She cares (man).”

Read the blog post So what do consultants do?http://www.consulting-business.com/so-what-do-consultants-do.html.

Explore author and editor Merlin Mann's website now (http://www.merlinmann.com). Be sure to check out the Bio and FAQs sections. These two pages will help you answer the following questions:

  1. Merlin Mann provides some work for free and charges a substantial fee for other projects. What are some of the clues he gives in his bio about what he values? How do you think this affects his fee?
  2. Check out Merlin Mann's projects. What projects is or was Merlin involved in? Now look at the Speak page. Can you see a connection between his projects and his role as a prominent author, speaker and consultant?
  3. Check out the Merlin FAQ section. What is his attitude towards social networking sites? What about public relations? Why do you think he holds these opinions?
  4. Think of niches in the internet industry where a consultant could be helpful. Do you have any expertise, theories or sound advice that could make you a useful asset to a company or organization? Find an example of an organization or group with some media exposure. If you were the advisor to this group, what would you recommend to help them achieve their goals better?


Byers, Meredith "Controversy over the Use ofWikipediain Academic Papers arrives at Smith",Smith College Sophian, news section, March 8, 2007.

(Video) Chapter 5 Media and Cyber or Digital Literacy

Center for Media Literacy, "Five Key Questions Form Foundation for Media Inquiry",http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/five-key-questions-form-foundation-media-inquiry.

Colbert, Stefan."The Word: Wikiality", The Colbert Report, July 31, 2006.

Fildes, Jonathan. „Wikipedia‘Indicates CIA page edits’”BBC News, Science and Technology Section, August 15, 2007.

Holt, Debra. und andere, Children’s Exposure to TV Advertising in 1977 and 2004, Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Economics Staff Report, 1. Juni 2007.

Levin. "When your children are awake."

Mann, Merlin.http://www.merlinmann.com/projects/.

Moody, Kate. "John Culkin, SJ: The Man Who Invented Media Literacy: 1928-1993," Center for Media Literacy,http://www.medialit.org/reading_room/article408.html.

Robertson, Lori, and Eugene Kiely, "Mud Fights in New Mexico: Gubernatorial Candidates Launch Willie Horton-Style Ads Each Accusing the Other of Giving Sex Offenders a Chance to Strike Again,"FaktenCheck.org, 24. June 2010,http://factcheck.org/2010/06/mudslinging-in-new-mexico/.

(Video) Fake and Propaganda News Coverage In Media.

Shaw, David. "A plea for media literacy in our nation's schools"Los Angeles Times, 30. November 2003.

Schifrin, Donald. „Perspectives on Marketing, Self-Regulation and Childhood Obesity“ (Anmerkungen, Workshop der Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC, 14.–15. Juli 2005).


What are the 3 types of media literacy? ›

Media and Information Literacy includes all types of information resources: oral, print, and digital.

What is the role of media literacy in culture? ›

Media literacy education provides tools to help people develop receptive media capability to critically analyze messages, offers opportunities for learners to broaden their experience of media, and helps them develop generative media capability to increase creative skills in making their own media messages.

What is your understanding in media and information literacy? ›

Media and information literacy empowers people to think critically about information and use of digital tools. It helps people make informed choices about how they participate in peace building, equality, freedom of expression, dialogue, access to information, and sustainable development.

What is understanding media and culture an introduction? ›

Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication is a compelling, historical narrative sketching the ongoing evolution of media and technology. Today's students are immersed in media–and while they expect new technology, they often lack the historical perspective.

What are the 5 components of media literacy? ›

core components to media literacy: Access, Analyze, Evaluate, Create and Act.

What are the 4 dimensions of media literacy? ›

Dimensions of media literacy

Media literacy education includes four components: cognitive, emotional, aesthetic, and moral. Each of these dimensions focuses on a different range of our perception.

How the culture affects the media? ›

Just as society forms and is formed in part by messages in the mass media, so it goes with culture. Cultural products and their popularity can influence which media channels people prefer. Conversely, changes in media and ICTs can lead to changes in how we produce culture.

What is the connection between literacy and culture? ›

Cultural literacy means being able to understand the traditions, regular activities and history of a group of people from a given culture. It also means being able to engage with these traditions, activities and history in cultural spaces like museums, galleries and performances. Culture is how a group of people lives.

How does culture impact literacy? ›

Answer and Explanation: Culture influences the priorities that people have in regards to various types of learning and other pursuits. If a culture does not place value on literacy or academic achievement, or if economic opportunities do not require literacy, a person is less likely to develop literacy skills.

What is media literacy in your own words? ›

Media Literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms. Definitions, however, evolve over time and a more robust definition is now needed to situate media literacy in the context of its importance for the education of students in a 21st century media culture.

What are the skills of media literacy? ›

Competencies for digital media literacy can be classified according to four main principles: Access, Use, Understand and Engage. Access can be considered a precondition of digital media literacy, as it is impossible to be media literate without affordable and reliable internet access.

Why is understanding media important? ›

Importance of media literacy

Media literacy is essential because it helps people understand the messages that are being communicated to them. With so many sources of information today, media literacy can help people identify reliable sources and filter through the noise to get at the truth.

What is media culture in simple words? ›

According to Altheide and Snow, media culture means that within a culture, the media increasingly influences other institutions (e.g. politics, religion, sports), which become constructed alongside a media logic. Since the 1950s, television has been the main medium for molding public opinion.

What is the purpose of media culture? ›

Culture media is of fundamental importance for most microbiological tests: to obtain pure cultures, to grow and count microbial cells, and to cultivate and select microorganisms. Without high-quality media, the possibility of achieving accurate, reproducible, and repeatable microbiological test results is reduced [1].

What are the 4 key concepts of media? ›

Whether you are analysing or constructing a media text, you are expected to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the following concepts:
  • Audience.
  • Genre.
  • Institution.
  • Narrative.
  • Media Forms.
  • Representation.

What are the 5 key questions of media literacy? ›

Media Literacy: Five Key Questions
  • Who created this message?
  • What techniques are used to attract my attention?
  • How might people understand this message differently?
  • What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?
  • Why was this message sent?
Oct 25, 2018

What are the 3 fundamental elements of media literacy? ›

An awareness of the impact of media. An understanding of the process of mass communication. strategies for analyzing and discussing media messages.

What is media literacy scale? ›

The results revealed that Media Literacy Skills Scale, which consists of 45 items gathered under the four main factors of 'access, analyze, evaluate and communicate', is a reliable and valid measurement instrument.

What are the 8 elements of media? ›

8 Elements of Media Literacy
  • Critical Thinking. ...
  • Understanding the Process of Mass Communication. ...
  • Awareness of the impact of media on individual and society. ...
  • Strategies for Analyzing. ...
  • Media Content that provides insight to our culture. ...
  • Ability to enjoy and appreciate media content. ...
  • Development of Responsible Production Skills.

How many levels of media literacy are there? ›

Aufderheide (1993) explained the concept of media literacy through four basic skills (access, analysis, evaluation, transmission).

What are the five types of culture media? ›

These are classified into six types: (1) Basal media, (2) Enriched media, (3) Selective (4) Indicator media, (5) Transport media, and (6) Storage media.

What is the relationship between media and popular culture? ›

Popular culture is transmitted via mass media (i.e. any means of delivering standardized messages to a larger audience). When mass media first emerged, only a few sources were able to reach large numbers of people. These sources of mass media had a huge influence on the culture of large groups.

What are cultural values examples? ›

The examples of it are morals, rules, values, languages, beliefs, arts, literature, music, social roles, customs, traditions and many more.

What is cultural literacy example? ›

Answer and Explanation: Some cultural literacy examples are knowing on which side of the sidewalk to walk, how to address strangers, and which music is popular in a given area. Each of these addresses a behavior that may be peculiar to a society.

How can cultural literacy be improved? ›

Participating in cultural activities can improve cultural literacy. These activities can include visiting museums and galleries, participating in community events and programs or attending performances. Cultural literacy has evolved from the term first coined by Hirsch.

How do you promote a culture of literacy? ›

10 Ways to Promote a Culture of Literacy
  1. Publicly celebrate reading.
  2. Create classroom libraries.
  3. Share your word walls.
  4. Make time for collaboration.
  5. Get students talking.
  6. Read and write across content areas.
  7. Value disciplinary literacy.
  8. Provide authentic writing experiences.
Feb 1, 2017

Why is literacy and cultural literacy important in our society? ›

Cultural literacy helps students interact and collaborate effectively, both of which will be necessary skills in their lives after graduation. According to educational theories such as Vygotsky's Social Development Theory, learning occurs in the social context of community.

What is the difference between literacy and cultural literacy? ›

A literate reader knows the object-language's alphabet, grammar, and a sufficient set of vocabulary; a culturally literate person knows a given culture's signs and symbols, including its language, particular dialectic, stories, entertainment, idioms, idiosyncrasies, and so on.

What is a culture of literacy? ›

A literacy culture means children, and even family members, are engaged in literacy experiences not just during the school day, but also after school and in the community in ways that don't feel like an assignment. Literacy is not something that occurs during a specific time of day or content area.

How do you practice media literacy? ›

How to improve your media literacy skills
  1. Know what you're up against.
  2. Think carefully about how you frame a search.
  3. Think critically about keywords.
  4. Never stop learning.
May 28, 2021

What are the 5 benefits that media literacy can teach you? ›

Teaching media literacy has many benefits for students. Those benefits include learning how to think critically, the ability to differentiate between fake and real news, recognizing perspective and the message “behind” the message, and learning how to create media responsibly.

What are the 7 skills of media literacy? ›

Potter (2004) specifies seven skills of media literacy: analysis, evaluation, grouping, induction, deduction, synthesis, and abstracting. These skills, when used together and in the context of foundational knowledge, are useful for meaning construction in learning, asserts Potter.

What is the summary of understanding media? ›

Summary. Throughout Understanding Media, McLuhan uses historical quotes and anecdotes to probe the ways in which new forms of media change the perceptions of societies, with specific focus on the effects of each medium as opposed to the content that is transmitted by each medium.

How does media literacy affect one's life at present? ›

Media literacy training increases the individuals' doubt about the media content (23). After all, existence of the individuals with high media literacy leads to increase in the media quality because such individuals require more realistic messages of higher quality (5).

Why do we need to study media and information literacy? ›

Information and media literacy (IML) enables people to show and make informed judgments as users of information and media, as well as to become skillful creators and producers of information and media messages in their own right.

What are examples of cultural media? ›

Examples are nutrient broth, peptone water, and nutrient agar. Complex media: These are media containing nutrients in unknown quantities that are added to bring about a particular characteristic of a microbial strain. Examples are tryptic soy broth, blood agar, and nutrient broth.

How does media influence our values? ›

In the individual effect, media information about new norms may persuade individuals to accept them. In the social effect, the information creates common knowledge of a norm and enhances social coordination as individuals more readily accept the information if they believe others have also accepted it.

What is the most common culture media? ›


These are the most common growth media, although specialized media are sometimes required for microorganism and cell culture growth. Some organisms, termed fastidious organisms, need specialized environments due to complex nutritional requirements.

What are the 3 characteristics types of media? ›

Characteristics of different types of media
  • Available to a broad audience.
  • Suitable if you want to communicate local information.
  • Has an entertainment function but is also a venue for serious discussions.
  • Strong ability for interaction with call-in shows.

What are the 3 sources of media? ›

In general, we can classify media in to three main categories:
  • Print Media.
  • Broadcasting Media.
  • Internet Media.
Aug 18, 2022

What are 3 traditional media sources? ›

Traditional media includes all outlets that existed before the internet, such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and billboards.

What are the 3 kinds of media in mass communication? ›

There are three main types of news media: print media, broadcast media, and the Internet.

What are the 6 examples of media types? ›

Modern media comes in many different formats, including print media (books, magazines, newspapers), television, movies, video games, music, cell phones, various kinds of software, and the Internet.


1. How false news can spread - Noah Tavlin
2. Media Literacy: Navigating the Digital Media Landscape in the Disinformation Age
(Secular Hub)
3. Ch. 8 - Understanding Media (McLuhan), Propaganda (Bernays), Manufacturing Consent (Chomksy)
(T.H.E. Audio Book Club)
4. How You Treat People Is Who You Are! (Kindness Motivational Video)
(Fearless Soul)
5. AE Webinar 7.3 - Empowering your Students with Media Literacy
(American English)
6. Mass Communication Evolution
(jamie lynn gilbert)


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