Educators in Washington state — and around the world — are spending time this week talking about media literacy. It’s part of a special week designed to boost students’ understanding of how different forms of media function.
“When it comes to media literacy, we mean everything,” said Joanne Lisosky, who taught media studies at Pacific Lutheran University prior to her recent retirement. Social media, visual media, aural media — any outside stimulus counts.
“Media literacy education didn’t start in the U.S.,” she said. “It started in Europe and Australia and Canada. You can’t graduate from high school without having a class in media literacy.”
That’s not the case in the United States, and Lisosky worries that makes Americans more susceptible to being tricked by fake news.
Washington state officially recognized Media Literacy Week when Gov. Jay Inslee signed a proclamation in 2016. It encourages teachers across the state to talk about media literacy in their classrooms.
But media literacy is important for adults, too, and Lisosky says she regularly hears from people who want help deconstructing journalism – figuring out why a story was done a certain way, and why certain outlets favor one type of story over another.
Lisosky says there are five questions any of us can ask ourselves to start critically analyzing what we’re receiving from any kind of media, from TV programs to news to highway billboards:
- Who made this up? Think about who wrote the story, or paid for the ad, or made the film.
- What strategies were used to get my attention? “If you can figure that out,” Lisosky said, “then you’ll have an idea of why you were watching this.”
- How might someone else view this differently than I am viewing this?
- What is the point of view of the sender?
- Why are they motivated to send this message to me?