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How media literacy is defined: A review
Unformatted Document Text:  6 Fourth, several authors, when defining media literacy, did include a description of media institutions, but these definitions did not refer to the various contexts which influence media content, but instead remained very general. The Catholic Education Office in Sydney, Australia, for instance, developed a media education program, and one of the objectives of this program is to develop students’ understanding of media structure and processes (Brown, 1991:74). Lloyd-Kolkin et al. (1980) described a paper presented at the 1976 American Pediatrics Association, which claimed that one of the television viewing skills that children should posses is the readiness to refer to industry knowledge in reasoning about television content (Bouwman, 1989; Buckingham, 1990; Buckingham & Sefton-Green, 1997 4 ; Criticos, 1997; Davies, 1997; Desmond, 1997; Greenaway, 1997; Hart, 1998; McClure, 1997; Vooijs & van der Voort, 1990). A number of the authors, whose description of the aspect ‘media institutions’ fall into the category described in the previous paragraph, provided a reason for their decision to include this aspect. Criticos, when explaining the different aspects of media literacy in South Africa, noted how media education is important in that it teaches people to become active and critical citizens, i.e., to examine the world around them in an active and critical manner. This kind of civic courage; “…provides the possibility and potential to keep in check the ruthless intents and limitations of the market and government (237). This line of reasoning closely resembled the one used by the Catholic Education Office in Australia when they explained the design of their media education program (Brown, 1991). Hart (1998) claimed that teaching about media institutions is especially significant, because it is an area of the media of which people usually know very little. Finally, there are those authors who focus on the practical consequences of the profit- oriented nature of the media. Branston (1992) noted that the knowledge that the media tend to objectify their audiences into measurable, predictable identities in order to predict the success of a show, should be a part of any media education program. This author did not explain why this knowledge is such an important aspect of media education. Social network In regard to media literacy, this element suggests an awareness of the interaction between societal structures and the media; i.e., how the media influence the social structures and how the cultural and social structures in any given society influence the media and their messages. Additionally, this element also suggests an understanding that other people, because they may live in different social circumstances, may interpret the same message differently. Several studies have defined media literacy in terms of the social context of mass communication. However, these studies have identified social network in different ways, which can be described in the following ways: 1) understanding that people from a range of socio-economic backgrounds may interpret the same message differently, 2) knowledge about the socio-cultural conditions that influence the production of a media message, 3) understanding the role that the media play in society. First of all, there are those authors who believe that understanding that people from a range of socio-economic backgrounds will all interpret the same media message differently is a part of media literacy. In Australia, Quin and McMahon (1997) noted that students need to understand that audiences are not passive recipients of media messages, but that they each bring their own positions, values and attitudes to bear upon their interaction with, and subsequent interpretation of the media. The media education program developed by WNET in the early 1980s also taught its students to survey the uses that different people have for the media (Piette & Giroux, 1997). These claims were echoed by many other authors (Alvardo & 4 Both Buckingham (1990) and Buckingham & Sefton-Green (1997) referred to the principles of media education as put forward by the British Film Institute (BFI)

Authors: Rosenbaum, Judith.
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6
Fourth, several authors, when defining media literacy, did include a description of
media institutions, but these definitions did not refer to the various contexts which influence
media content, but instead remained very general. The Catholic Education Office in Sydney,
Australia, for instance, developed a media education program, and one of the objectives of
this program is to develop students’ understanding of media structure and processes (Brown,
1991:74). Lloyd-Kolkin et al. (1980) described a paper presented at the 1976 American
Pediatrics Association, which claimed that one of the television viewing skills that children
should posses is the readiness to refer to industry knowledge in reasoning about television
content (Bouwman, 1989; Buckingham, 1990; Buckingham & Sefton-Green, 1997
4
; Criticos,
1997; Davies, 1997; Desmond, 1997; Greenaway, 1997; Hart, 1998; McClure, 1997; Vooijs
& van der Voort, 1990).
A number of the authors, whose description of the aspect ‘media institutions’ fall into
the category described in the previous paragraph, provided a reason for their decision to
include this aspect. Criticos, when explaining the different aspects of media literacy in South
Africa, noted how media education is important in that it teaches people to become active and
critical citizens, i.e., to examine the world around them in an active and critical manner. This
kind of civic courage; “…provides the possibility and potential to keep in check the ruthless
intents and limitations of the market and government (237). This line of reasoning closely
resembled the one used by the Catholic Education Office in Australia when they explained the
design of their media education program (Brown, 1991). Hart (1998) claimed that teaching
about media institutions is especially significant, because it is an area of the media of which
people usually know very little.
Finally, there are those authors who focus on the practical consequences of the profit-
oriented nature of the media. Branston (1992) noted that the knowledge that the media tend to
objectify their audiences into measurable, predictable identities in order to predict the success
of a show, should be a part of any media education program. This author did not explain why
this knowledge is such an important aspect of media education.

Social network
In regard to media literacy, this element suggests an awareness of the interaction between
societal structures and the media; i.e., how the media influence the social structures and how
the cultural and social structures in any given society influence the media and their messages.
Additionally, this element also suggests an understanding that other people, because they may
live in different social circumstances, may interpret the same message differently. Several
studies have defined media literacy in terms of the social context of mass communication.
However, these studies have identified social network in different ways, which can be
described in the following ways: 1) understanding that people from a range of socio-economic
backgrounds may interpret the same message differently, 2) knowledge about the socio-
cultural conditions that influence the production of a media message, 3) understanding the
role that the media play in society.
First of all, there are those authors who believe that understanding that people from a
range of socio-economic backgrounds will all interpret the same media message differently is
a part of media literacy. In Australia, Quin and McMahon (1997) noted that students need to
understand that audiences are not passive recipients of media messages, but that they each
bring their own positions, values and attitudes to bear upon their interaction with, and
subsequent interpretation of the media. The media education program developed by WNET in
the early 1980s also taught its students to survey the uses that different people have for the
media (Piette & Giroux, 1997). These claims were echoed by many other authors (Alvardo &
4
Both Buckingham (1990) and Buckingham & Sefton-Green (1997) referred to the principles of media
education as put forward by the British Film Institute (BFI)


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