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How media literacy is defined: A review
Unformatted Document Text:  14 the way in which they interpret media messages, and the cognitive process that might influence how they look at messages, e.g., motivation, goals and knowledge. Many descriptions of media literacy include a reference to ‘definition of the situation’, and these can be organized into four different categories: 1) understanding how one interprets a media message; 2) the ability to (critically) analyze and interpret media content; 3) the ability to recognize one’s own motives and purposes for using the media; and 4) understanding how the media affects one personally. First, there are those descriptions of media literacy which focus on the extent to which people understand the process through which they give meaning to media content. For instance, Brown (2001) claimed that recent critical viewing skills projects focus on helping people understand how they interpret the media, and that this depends on their individual cognitive processing. Cognition includes psychological, affective considerations, selective perception and interpretation, making meaning of texts (684). Other authors’ description of media literacy echoes this outline (Alvardo & Boyd-Barrett, 1992; Aufderheide, 1997; Bouwman, 1989; Brown, 1991; Buckingham, 1998; Buckingham & Sefton-Green, 1997 31 ; Davies, 1997 31 ; Desimoni, 1992; Desmond, 1997; Hobbs, 1998d; McClure, 1997). None of the authors provided a reason why this specific element of media use is worth knowing about. Several did provide general reasons for the importance of media literacy though, some of which have been outlined in previous paragraphs (Aufderheide, 1992). Buckingham (1998), for instance, when outlining the key aspects of media education relied on the curriculum statements as first developed by the British Film Institute, which claimed that students need to know about the aspects of media use that it proposed, because these will develop their understanding of and participation in the media. Conversely, McClure (1997) argued that people needed to understand how they process information, for this will render them more productive and effective in the contemporary information society. Second, the majority of the authors, when describing media literacy, mention that people should be able to analyze and interpret media messages (Aufderheide, 1997; Bazalgette, 1997; Bouwman, 1989; Brown, 1991 32 ; Buckingham & Sefton-Green, 1997 31 ; Considine, 1997 33 ; Criticos, 1997; Davies, 1997; Hobbs, 1998a, 1998d; Lemish & Lemish, 1997; Lewis & Jhally, 1998; Masterman, 1997; McClure, 1997; Meyrowitz, 1998; Piette & Giroux, 1997; Roberts et al., 1980; Singer, Zuckerman & Singer, 1980; Swinkels, 1992; Tufte, 1992; Vooijs & Van der Voort, 1989, 1990). Some of these authors also note that people should do this in a critical manner. For instance, Quin and MacMahon (1997) noted that media education should lead to students remaining effective and informed critics for the rest of their lives (Brown, 1991 34 ; Desimoni, 1992; Desmond, 1997; Hobbs, 1997, 1998b; Lloyd-Kolkin et al.1980). Only a minority of the authors described above provides a rationale for their decision to include (critical) analysis as a part of media literacy. Some of the authors claim the ability to analyze the media is important for it teaches people how to make conscious and autonomous decisions which will not only aid their ability to deflect the possible negative effects of the media, but which is also a prerequisite for functioning in a democratic society (Aufderheide, 1997; Brown, 1991 35 ; Criticos, 1997; Hobbs, 1997, 1998a; Piette & Giroux, 1997 35 ). The North Carolina Department of Publication Instruction (Considine, 1997) took a 31 These authors referred to the principles developed by the BFI. 32 Brown in this case referred to the programs developed by the Idaho state department of education, 33 Considine in this case referred to the North Carolina Department of Publication Instruction. 34 Brown referred to the media education projects developed by WNET/Thirteen in New York, the Singers research team, the Boston University School of Public Communication and the Media action research center in New York. 35 Brown referred solely to the project developed by the Singers research team.

Authors: Rosenbaum, Judith.
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the way in which they interpret media messages, and the cognitive process that might
influence how they look at messages, e.g., motivation, goals and knowledge.
Many descriptions of media literacy include a reference to ‘definition of the situation’,
and these can be organized into four different categories: 1) understanding how one interprets
a media message; 2) the ability to (critically) analyze and interpret media content; 3) the
ability to recognize one’s own motives and purposes for using the media; and 4)
understanding how the media affects one personally.
First, there are those descriptions of media literacy which focus on the extent to which
people understand the process through which they give meaning to media content. For
instance, Brown (2001) claimed that recent critical viewing skills projects focus on helping
people understand how they interpret the media, and that this depends on their individual
cognitive processing. Cognition includes psychological, affective considerations, selective
perception and interpretation, making meaning of texts (684). Other authors’ description of
media literacy echoes this outline (Alvardo & Boyd-Barrett, 1992; Aufderheide, 1997;
Bouwman, 1989; Brown, 1991; Buckingham, 1998; Buckingham & Sefton-Green, 1997
31
;
Davies, 1997
31
; Desimoni, 1992; Desmond, 1997; Hobbs, 1998d; McClure, 1997).
None of the authors provided a reason why this specific element of media use is worth
knowing about. Several did provide general reasons for the importance of media literacy
though, some of which have been outlined in previous paragraphs (Aufderheide, 1992).
Buckingham (1998), for instance, when outlining the key aspects of media education relied on
the curriculum statements as first developed by the British Film Institute, which claimed that
students need to know about the aspects of media use that it proposed, because these will
develop their understanding of and participation in the media. Conversely, McClure (1997)
argued that people needed to understand how they process information, for this will render
them more productive and effective in the contemporary information society.
Second, the majority of the authors, when describing media literacy, mention that
people should be able to analyze and interpret media messages (Aufderheide, 1997;
Bazalgette, 1997; Bouwman, 1989; Brown, 1991
32
; Buckingham & Sefton-Green, 1997
31
;
Considine, 1997
33
; Criticos, 1997; Davies, 1997; Hobbs, 1998a, 1998d; Lemish & Lemish,
1997; Lewis & Jhally, 1998; Masterman, 1997; McClure, 1997; Meyrowitz, 1998; Piette &
Giroux, 1997; Roberts et al., 1980; Singer, Zuckerman & Singer, 1980; Swinkels, 1992;
Tufte, 1992; Vooijs & Van der Voort, 1989, 1990). Some of these authors also note that
people should do this in a critical manner. For instance, Quin and MacMahon (1997) noted
that media education should lead to students remaining effective and informed critics for the
rest of their lives (Brown, 1991
34
; Desimoni, 1992; Desmond, 1997; Hobbs, 1997, 1998b;
Lloyd-Kolkin et al.1980).
Only a minority of the authors described above provides a rationale for their decision
to include (critical) analysis as a part of media literacy. Some of the authors claim the ability
to analyze the media is important for it teaches people how to make conscious and
autonomous decisions which will not only aid their ability to deflect the possible negative
effects of the media, but which is also a prerequisite for functioning in a democratic society
(Aufderheide, 1997; Brown, 1991
35
; Criticos, 1997; Hobbs, 1997, 1998a; Piette & Giroux,
1997
35
). The North Carolina Department of Publication Instruction (Considine, 1997) took a
31
These authors referred to the principles developed by the BFI.
32
Brown in this case referred to the programs developed by the Idaho state department of education,
33
Considine in this case referred to the North Carolina Department of Publication Instruction.
34
Brown referred to the media education projects developed by WNET/Thirteen in New York, the Singers
research team, the Boston University School of Public Communication and the Media action research center in
New York.
35
Brown referred solely to the project developed by the Singers research team.


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