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How media literacy is defined: A review
Unformatted Document Text:  10 technical conventions used in their messages in their definition of media literacy (Alvardo & Boyd-Barrett, 1992; Aufderheide, 1997; Brown, 1991, 2001; Bazalgette, 1997; Buckingham 1990 13 ; Buckingham, 1998; Buckingham et al., 1990; Buckingham & Sefton-Green, 1997 13 ; Considine, 1997; Davies, 1997 13 ; Davison, 1992; Desimoni, 1992; Desmond, 1997; Greenaway, 1997; Hobbs, 1998d; Hobbs & Frost, 1998; Ketzer, Swinkels & Vooijs, 1989; Lloyd-Kolkin, Wheeler & Strand, 1980; Masterman, 1997, 1998; McClure, 1997; Meyrowitz, 1998; Piette & Giroux, 1997 14 ; Thoman, 1999; Singer, Zuckerman & Singer, 1980; Swinkels, 1992; Van Driel & Klinkenberg, 1989; Vooijs & Van der Voort, 1989, 1990). A few of the authors, whose description of media literacy included knowledge about the technical conventions used in the media, provided a reason for their decision to define media literacy as such. Alvardo and Boyd-Barrett (1992) are the only ones who specifically referred to knowledge about technical conventions, when claiming that students should know what kinds of technology are used in the production of media messages, because it will reveal to them not only that media technology plays a major role in determining the meaning of a text, but also to whom it can be made available (210). Other authors, when defending their decision to include knowledge about the technology used in the media, referred to a more general understanding of codes and conventions. For instance, in Australia, Quin and McMahon (1997) claimed that textual analysis is needed for it will uncover the workings of a text, its preferred reading and its position with dominant ideology (312). Various authors claimed that knowing about the different codes and conventions used in a media message increases one’s understanding and appreciation of media messages and helps us to be less susceptible to manipulation (Hobbs, 1998b; Ketzer, Swinkels & Vooijs, 1989; Thoman, 1999). Finally, there are also a number of authors who include one or more of the aspects of ‘information’ in their conceptualization of media literacy, but who fail to provide a reason for the inclusion of each of these aspects, and instead provide a more general reason for the need for ‘information’ as a part of media literacy. An example of this kind of reasoning is provided by Hobbs (1998a) who claimed that people should be taught to ask questions about what they watch, see and read because this will further empower people’s autonomy and ability to question authority. Several authors agreed with this claim, arguing that if people possess greater awareness of the media, they will also develop a better understanding of the media (Buckingham, 1998; Piette & Giroux, 1997 15 ). Aufderheide (1997) noted that people needed to be media literate because they needed to understand how reality is constructed through the media, to which Masterman (1997, 1998) added that people needed to know about production, because it will teach them to challenge the ‘naturalness’ of media images. The second category includes those definitions of media literacy which focused on the knowledge of codes and conventions which are not technical in nature, but which include knowledge about issues such as genre, narrative structures, character development, and the distinction between fiction and fact. Hobbs (1998b) defined this aspect of media literacy as follows: “The ability to analyze messages connects with those interpretive comprehension skills which include the ability to make use of categories, concepts or ideas, determine the genre of a work, make inferences about cause and effect, consider the specific strategies used to attract certain audiences, and identify the author’s purpose and point of view”(7-8). This view on media literacy was echoed by various others (Alvardo & Boyd-Barrett, 1992; Aufderheide, 1997; Brown, 1991, 2001; Buckingham, 1990 16 ; Buckingham, 1998; 13 These studies referred to the principles of media education as developed by the BFI. 14 This reference to Piette & Giroux only concerned their description of the media education program developed by WNET and by the Swiss canton of Fribourg. 15 The authors referred only to the media education program developed by the Boston University School of Public Communication. 16 These authors referred to the principles of media education as advocated by the BFI.

Authors: Rosenbaum, Judith.
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background image
10
technical conventions used in their messages in their definition of media literacy (Alvardo &
Boyd-Barrett, 1992; Aufderheide, 1997; Brown, 1991, 2001; Bazalgette, 1997; Buckingham
1990
13
; Buckingham, 1998; Buckingham et al., 1990; Buckingham & Sefton-Green, 1997
13
;
Considine, 1997; Davies, 1997
13
; Davison, 1992; Desimoni, 1992; Desmond, 1997;
Greenaway, 1997; Hobbs, 1998d; Hobbs & Frost, 1998; Ketzer, Swinkels & Vooijs, 1989;
Lloyd-Kolkin, Wheeler & Strand, 1980; Masterman, 1997, 1998; McClure, 1997; Meyrowitz,
1998; Piette & Giroux, 1997
14
; Thoman, 1999; Singer, Zuckerman & Singer, 1980; Swinkels,
1992; Van Driel & Klinkenberg, 1989; Vooijs & Van der Voort, 1989, 1990).
A few of the authors, whose description of media literacy included knowledge about
the technical conventions used in the media, provided a reason for their decision to define
media literacy as such. Alvardo and Boyd-Barrett (1992) are the only ones who specifically
referred to knowledge about technical conventions, when claiming that students should know
what kinds of technology are used in the production of media messages, because it will reveal
to them not only that media technology plays a major role in determining the meaning of a
text, but also to whom it can be made available (210). Other authors, when defending their
decision to include knowledge about the technology used in the media, referred to a more
general understanding of codes and conventions. For instance, in Australia, Quin and
McMahon (1997) claimed that textual analysis is needed for it will uncover the workings of a
text, its preferred reading and its position with dominant ideology (312). Various authors
claimed that knowing about the different codes and conventions used in a media message
increases one’s understanding and appreciation of media messages and helps us to be less
susceptible to manipulation (Hobbs, 1998b; Ketzer, Swinkels & Vooijs, 1989; Thoman,
1999). Finally, there are also a number of authors who include one or more of the aspects of
‘information’ in their conceptualization of media literacy, but who fail to provide a reason for
the inclusion of each of these aspects, and instead provide a more general reason for the need
for ‘information’ as a part of media literacy. An example of this kind of reasoning is provided
by Hobbs (1998a) who claimed that people should be taught to ask questions about what they
watch, see and read because this will further empower people’s autonomy and ability to
question authority. Several authors agreed with this claim, arguing that if people possess
greater awareness of the media, they will also develop a better understanding of the media
(Buckingham, 1998; Piette & Giroux, 1997
15
). Aufderheide (1997) noted that people needed
to be media literate because they needed to understand how reality is constructed through the
media, to which Masterman (1997, 1998) added that people needed to know about production,
because it will teach them to challenge the ‘naturalness’ of media images.
The second category includes those definitions of media literacy which focused on the
knowledge of codes and conventions which are not technical in nature, but which include
knowledge about issues such as genre, narrative structures, character development, and the
distinction between fiction and fact. Hobbs (1998b) defined this aspect of media literacy as
follows: “The ability to analyze messages connects with those interpretive comprehension
skills which include the ability to make use of categories, concepts or ideas, determine the
genre of a work, make inferences about cause and effect, consider the specific strategies used
to attract certain audiences, and identify the author’s purpose and point of view”(7-8). This
view on media literacy was echoed by various others (Alvardo & Boyd-Barrett, 1992;
Aufderheide, 1997; Brown, 1991, 2001; Buckingham, 1990
16
; Buckingham, 1998;
13
These studies referred to the principles of media education as developed by the BFI.
14
This reference to Piette & Giroux only concerned their description of the media education program developed
by WNET and by the Swiss canton of Fribourg.
15
The authors referred only to the media education program developed by the Boston University School of
Public Communication.
16
These authors referred to the principles of media education as advocated by the BFI.


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