For centuries, literacy has referred to the ability to read and write. Today, we get most of our information through an interwoven system of media technologies. The ability to read many types of media has become an essential skill in the 21st Century. Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. Media literate youth and adults are better able to understand the complex messages we receive from television, radio, Internet, newspapers, magazines, books, billboards, video games, music, and all other forms of media. Media literacy skills are included in the educational standards of every state—in language arts, social studies, health, science, and other subjects. Many educators have discovered that media literacy is an effective and engaging way to apply critical thinking skills to a wide range of issues.
Media Literacy Project’s approach to media literacy education comes from a media justice framework. Media Justice speaks to the need to go beyond creating greater access to the same old media structure. Media Justice takes into account history, culture, privilege, and power. We need new relationships with media and a new vision for its control, access, and structure. Media Justice understands that this will require new policies, new systems that treat our airways and our communities as more than markets.
Media literacy skills can help youth and adults:
- Develop critical thinking skills
- Understand how media messages shape our culture and society
- Identify target marketing strategies
- Recognize what the media maker wants us to believe or do
- Name the techniques of persuasion used
- Recognize bias, spin, misinformation, and lies
- Discover the parts of the story that are not being told
- Evaluate media messages based on our own experiences, skills, beliefs, and values
- Create and distribute our own media messages
- Advocate for media justice