Media refers to the outlets through which we communicate, share information, get news, and are entertained. Some well known examples of social media include Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. FOX (television), CNN (television), and NPR (radio) are examples of broadcast media. It's important to consider how we engage with media. Media, like other forms of information, should be critically evaluated, and the information that comes from media should be used responsibly. A good starting place is with the components of media literacy:
"To have access to" means to have the means and ability to use something. People with disabilities sometimes have problems with accessibility. Economic, social, and geographic inequities also create obstacles to access. For people who do not have access to the internet at home, schools, workplaces, and public libraries are alternative access providers.
"To evaluate" means to determine the value of something. Like other information, if not more so, media can be biased, and its credibility can vary widely depending on its source. Viewing media through a critical lens, evaluating its quality and trustworthiness, is more important than ever. Doing otherwise can have serious personal and civic consequences.
"To analyze" means to deconstruct something that is complex, identify main ideas and messages, appraise supporting details, and come to a deeper understanding of the whole. Evaluation and analysis are often closely tied together. An analysis of a media source needs to consider the text but also often requires the analyzer to critically think about visual imagery and symbolism too.
The creation of media is a form of expression. One can be motivated to create media for many reasons. For example, effective media can be very persuasive. Advertising companies use media all the time to try to get us to buy their products. Candidates design commercials to try to get our vote. You can learn more about creating media from the resources that are linked below:
The use of media to spread propaganda is not a new trend. But it has become easier than ever to reach a mass audience through digital media. Furthermore, there's really no governance over what is said and what can be shared on the internet, in social media posts, and through text messaging. While legitimate information is shared and received through media outlets, much of the information we are exposed to is biased, and some of it is unintentionally or intentionally erroneous. The consequences of bias, misinformation, and disinformation can range from being relatively benign to catastrophically harmful. As we have seen in recent years, misinformation and disinformation can be used as a weapon to divide us, and it threatens our democracy. Among the tools we have at our disposal to combat misinformation and disinformation campaigns, are the tools of media literacy.
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