Last night, we kicked off Media Literacy Month by having a discussion about what media literacy is and how it can be applied to our everyday lives. What it boils down to in the end is in order to be a responsible consumer of media, individuals need to challenge what is perceived as “normal” and keep asking questions. There are many components to understanding and interpreting media but let’s start with the questions below:

  1. Where is this media (music, video, photo, advertisement, etc.) coming from and who is it intended for?

  2. Whose voice is missing?

  3. Where do the numbers come from? (ex. “80% of people polled agree” - How many people were polled? Is the sample group representative of the group it is supposed to apply to?)

  4. What is the purpose of this message?

  5. Can the statements made be verified?

One member after class e-mailed an example of a recent discovery of shady tactics. Take a moment to watch the video and ask yourself the questions above. (read the story here)

One really great resource for thinking critically about Ads is found in the Media Literacy Project with their deconstructions of advertisements. This will help you get started asking the right questions which you can then apply to any and all media you come face-to-face with during the course of a day.

All of the above is why we, as an non-profit community TV station, play such a vital role in the production and consumption of media. YOU are able to create your own media and messages. YOU are in control of having your viewpoints heard in your community, regardless if it is a majority viewpoint or not. YOU have the power and space to positively contribute to the conversation in our community and perhaps on an even wider scale.

With each individual having their own set of beliefs and values, it leaves us with one final question: Is it possible to create truly unbiased and balanced media? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!


For more resources surrounding media literacy, check out the following:

Center for Media Literacy -
CML has educational resources and thought provoking articles about the way we consume and utilize media.

Common Sense Media -
This is a great resource for families and educators. Access to curriculum, movie/TV/book reviews, answers to common questions, and videos to spark healthy and informed conversations.

Media Education
MEF creates and distributes documentaries challenging mainstream media and is committed to providing quality education to community members. They also provide printable study guides for their films. Beyond the walls of their films, they also have lessons about media literacy and an additional resource page of partners for further exploration.

Professor Jhally is the founder of the Media Education Foundation and a professor at UMass Amherst. Access to lectures for three of his courses surrounding media, gender, and politics are available for viewing on his website.  

AuthorKaty Woodhams