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How media literacy is defined: A review
Unformatted Document Text:  13 used by advertisers. The reason behind this is that it should help students resist the messages brought to them by, especially, alcohol and tobacco advertisers (Piette & Giroux 29 ). The Idaho department of Education (Brown, 1991), only provided a general reason for the need for media education, which is outlined in a previous paragraph. Finally, some authors alleged that an awareness of the quality and/or value of the content of media messages is a part of media literacy. For instance, according to Vooijs and Van der Voort (1989) television literacy also included an acknowledgment of the inferior quality of much of the content shown on television (Davies, 1997; Vooijs & Van der Voort, 1990). These authors did not provide any reasons why they felt that this should be a part of media literacy. Interaction situation This element refers to those situations in which a person acts as an active recipient of information; i.e., it concerns the actual situations in which media use takes place. In terms of media literacy, this aspect centers on the awareness of the types of situations in which one uses the media, and the extent to which one uses the media for para-social interaction. Various definitions of media literacy refer to a part of this element, when they contend that media literacy includes teaching people how to evaluate when they use the media. For instance, according to Lloyd-Kolkin et al. (1980), media literacy included teaching people to evaluate their own television viewing patterns (Brown, 1991 30 ; Hobbs & Frost, 1998; Masterman, 1997; Singer, Zuckerman & Singer, 1980). None of the authors described above provided a rationale for the inclusion of this specific element in the conceptualization of media literacy. The problem with the element ‘interaction situation’ is that, in practice, i.e., in the different conceptualizations of media literacy, it very closely resembles the element ‘objectification’. This is because, although in theory these two elements comprise different parts of the process of media usage, in practice, most authors fail to define exactly what they mean by ‘the ability to evaluate media use’; i.e., it is not clear whether they refer to the awareness of the actual situations (interaction situation) in which one uses the media, or the awareness of the routines behind one’s use of the media (objectification). Thus, the definitions summarized in the previous paragraph have also been conceptualized as being a part of the element ‘objectification’. This lack of clarity in conceptualization was the main reason why I chose to develop the constructivist model of media literacy, for this model does, as opposed to the conceptualizations presented in this overview, provide a clear-cut distinction between the various components of media literacy. For now, however, I will work with what has been written so far, and forego the theoretical distinction between interaction situation and objectification. Definition of the situation This element refers to the interpretation process, wherein the viewer uses his or her structure of relevances to come to an understanding and interpretation of the media content, as well as to the result or product of this process. In terms of media literacy, this element refers to people’s ability to analyze and interpret media content. It also includes people’s awareness of 29 Piette and Giroux described the same reason provided by the Boston University School of Public Communication 30 Brown referred to the Idaho State Department of Education, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, Far West Laboratory for Education Research and Development and the US government funded project developed by WNET station in New York (for WNET see also Piette & Giroux, 1997)

Authors: Rosenbaum, Judith.
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used by advertisers. The reason behind this is that it should help students resist the messages
brought to them by, especially, alcohol and tobacco advertisers (Piette & Giroux
29
). The Idaho
department of Education (Brown, 1991), only provided a general reason for the need for
media education, which is outlined in a previous paragraph.
Finally, some authors alleged that an awareness of the quality and/or value of the
content of media messages is a part of media literacy. For instance, according to Vooijs and
Van der Voort (1989) television literacy also included an acknowledgment of the inferior
quality of much of the content shown on television (Davies, 1997; Vooijs & Van der Voort,
1990). These authors did not provide any reasons why they felt that this should be a part of
media literacy.
Interaction situation
This element refers to those situations in which a person acts as an active recipient of
information; i.e., it concerns the actual situations in which media use takes place. In terms of
media literacy, this aspect centers on the awareness of the types of situations in which one
uses the media, and the extent to which one uses the media for para-social interaction.
Various definitions of media literacy refer to a part of this element, when they contend
that media literacy includes teaching people how to evaluate when they use the media. For
instance, according to Lloyd-Kolkin et al. (1980), media literacy included teaching people to
evaluate their own television viewing patterns (Brown, 1991
30
; Hobbs & Frost, 1998;
Masterman, 1997; Singer, Zuckerman & Singer, 1980). None of the authors described above
provided a rationale for the inclusion of this specific element in the conceptualization of
media literacy.
The problem with the element ‘interaction situation’ is that, in practice, i.e., in the
different conceptualizations of media literacy, it very closely resembles the element
‘objectification’. This is because, although in theory these two elements comprise different
parts of the process of media usage, in practice, most authors fail to define exactly what they
mean by ‘the ability to evaluate media use’; i.e., it is not clear whether they refer to the
awareness of the actual situations (interaction situation) in which one uses the media, or the
awareness of the routines behind one’s use of the media (objectification). Thus, the definitions
summarized in the previous paragraph have also been conceptualized as being a part of the
element ‘objectification’.
This lack of clarity in conceptualization was the main reason why I chose to develop
the constructivist model of media literacy, for this model does, as opposed to the
conceptualizations presented in this overview, provide a clear-cut distinction between the
various components of media literacy. For now, however, I will work with what has been
written so far, and forego the theoretical distinction between interaction situation and
objectification.
Definition of the situation
This element refers to the interpretation process, wherein the viewer uses his or her structure
of relevances to come to an understanding and interpretation of the media content, as well as
to the result or product of this process. In terms of media literacy, this element refers to
people’s ability to analyze and interpret media content. It also includes people’s awareness of
29
Piette and Giroux described the same reason provided by the Boston University School of Public
Communication
30
Brown referred to the Idaho State Department of Education, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory,
Far West Laboratory for Education Research and Development and the US government funded project
developed by WNET station in New York (for WNET see also Piette & Giroux, 1997)


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