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Is media literacy a mere literature or more?

09 November 2022
Is media literacy a mere literature or more?


Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :
The core principles of media literacy education is to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens in today's world. Media literacy is an expanded conceptualization of literacy that includes the ability to access and analyze media messages as well as create, reflect and take action, using the power of information and communication to make a difference in the world. Media literacy is not restricted to one medium and is understood as a set of competencies that are essential for work, life, and citizenship.
In North America and Europe, media literacy includes both empowerment and protectionist perspectives. Media literate people can skillfully create and produce media messages to show understanding of the specific qualities of each medium, as well as to create media and participate as active citizens. Media literacy can be seen as contributing to an expanded conceptualization of literacy, treating mass media, popular culture and digital media as new types of 'texts' that require analysis and evaluation. By transforming the process of media consumption into an active and critical process, people gain greater awareness of the potential for misrepresentation and manipulation, and understand the role of mass media and participatory media in constructing views of reality. Canada was the first country in North America to require media literacy in the school curriculum. Every province has mandated media education in its curriculum. Canadian communication scholar Marshall McLuhan ignited the North American educational movement for media literacy in the 1950s and 1960s. Media literacy education has been an interest in the United States since the early 20th century, when high school English teachers first started using film to develop students' critical thinking and communication skills. Nearly all 50 states have language that supports media literacy in state curriculum frameworks. Additionally, an increasing number of school districts have begun to develop school-wide programs, elective courses, and other after-school opportunities for media analysis and production.
By media literacy, we can be informed about something happening on the other side of the world at the click of a button. The distribution of articles, reports and resources can be far reaching. Online media can reach a global audience. Once we have a web link, this can be seen or viewed by anyone - anywhere all over the world. We don't have to wait for something to be published the next day or the next week. If it's online, it can be published immediately and it can also be updated and changed with new details. Education for media literacy often uses an inquiry-based pedagogic model that encourages people to ask questions about what they watch, hear, and read. Media literacy moves beyond the traditional no print text and moves to examining more contemporary sources. Some examples of media literacy include, but are not limited to television, video games, photographs, and audio messages. Media literacy education provides tools to help people develop receptive media capability to critically analyze messages, offers opportunities for learners to broaden their experience of media, and helps them develop generative media capability to increase creative skills in making their own media messages. Critical analyses can include identifying author, purpose and point of view, examining construction techniques and genres, examining patterns of media representation, and detecting propaganda, censorship, and bias in news and public affairs programming. Media literacy education may explore how structural features-such as media ownership, or its funding model - affect the information presented.
Media literacy is crucial for the development of citizenship skills needed to promote a thriving democracy. Political campaigns and issues are primarily conveyed through 30-second television ads or, at best, half-hour news interviews on Sunday mornings. With so little attention paid to issues from our primary forms of media consumption, it is imperative for people to learn how to read the messages they are bombarded with and recognize the reasons and decisions behind what is being presented to them. In this media-saturated society, information comes not only through the written words but also through the images and sounds. Media literacy can allow students to fluently read and write audio/visual language would have more competitive power to better thrive in our multimedia culture. Media analysis, which is a crucial part of media literacy education, can develop critical thinking skills, by strengthening observation and interpretation. For example, students can examine and challenge the stereotypes, biases, and hidden motivation of the producers. Citizenship skill development is a part & parcel of media literacy.
To become media literate is not to memorize facts or statistics about the media, but rather to learn to raise the right questions about what we are watching, reading or listening to. Without fundamental ability, an individual cannot have full dignity as a human person or exercise citizenship in a democratic society where to be a citizen is to both understand and contribute to the debates of the time, and there media can play a significant role.
However, media literacy programs have their challenges in general, there is a lack of comprehensive evaluation that of media literacy efforts. Some research show that media literacy efforts can have little to no impact for certain materials, even produce harmful conditions of overconfidence. The longitudinal nature of both assessing and updating media literacy program makes this a perennial struggle.
Media literacy education is a part of world literature. This is an area, where we find the updated information of the world. By it, we attach and come closer to the globalized world. There are challenges of media literacy education. The success of media literacy in preparing to deal with fake news and information is often being challenged. The intervention of media literacy by targeted group appeared to be the big challenge. Effective address of confidence in skill by media literacy programs is another future challenge. New signals for transformations aimed at limiting fake news, backfire producing new uncertainty around media messages will be visible as the more challenges. However, there are strengths and weaknesses of media literacy. It is a wide subject accepted both nationally and internationally. Media literature should not be limited to any particular area by time. The journey of media literacy cannot be bound by time and space. So it is time to address its challenges by initiatives and efforts.

(The writer is former Deputy Director General, Bangladesh Ansar & VDP).

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