We hear a lot about Critical Race Theory, as we should. But what about Critical Media Literacy? Have you ever even heard the term? I hadn't. Then I read The Media and Me: A Guide to Critical Media Literacy for Young People. Not to quibble with the authors but really, this isn't only for young people. This is for all of us.
We're taking in so much information from so many media sources and yet we rarely, if ever, stop to think about what those sources are, their agendas, and what that means for what we're hearing and reading. Allison Butler and her co-authors take this on and lay out a path to being far more savvy about what we hear so that we are making thoughtful decisions about what we choose to engage with and how, rather than just buying everything they're selling without looking behind the curtain.
This conversation gave me so much insight into looking behind the scenes so that I am less vulnerable to being taken in by something that seems reasonable but, upon closer investigation, isn't what it appeared to be at all.
In this time of instant "news" it's more important than ever that we pay attention and interrogate what we're told rather than just accepting it. Allison lays out some clear and simple ways that we can become media literate. Ways that will make us better able to engage with all that's coming at us.
For a written transcript of this conversation click here.
Allison Butler is a senior lecturer and director of the media literacy certificate program in the Department of Communication at UMass Amherst. She is the author of Educating Media Literacy: The Need for Critical Media Literacy and Teacher Education. She is the co-author of the open source text, Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning: Interactive Explorations for Students and Teachers. She's also co-authored the new book, The Media and Me: A Guide to Critical Media Literacy for Young People.
1) Recognize that this is not hopeless. It's easy to feel overwhelmed. Start by looking at your own language. Part of what we're doing is examining power so instead of "Googling" something and using Google's (a huge, powerful corporation) language, think about just searching for something.
2) Slow down. Don't just scroll, take a bit of time to read more deeply.
3) Take a break. Turn off notifications. Get your news like back in the old days, when there was a morning paper and an evening paper rather than being inundated all day long.
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Harmonica music courtesy of a friend.
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