Media literacy is the process of accessing, analyzing, evaluating and creating messages in a wide variety of media modes, genres and forms.
“The media are major industries, generating profit and employment; they provide us with most of our information about the political process; and they offer us ideas, images and representations (both factual and fictional) that inevitably shape our view of reality. The media are undoubtedly the major contemporary means of cultural expression and communication: to become an active participant in public life necessarily involves making use of the modern media. The media, it is often argued, have now taken the place of the family, the church and the school as the major socializing influence in contemporary society” (Buckingham, 2003, p. 5).
Media literacy education provides tools to help people critically analyze messages to detect propaganda, censorship, and bias in news and public affairs programming, and to understand how structural features, such as media ownership, or its funding model, affect the information presented.
Media literacy aims to enable people to be skillful creators and producers of media messages, both to facilitate an understanding as to the strengths and limitations of each medium, as well as to create independent media. Media literacy is an expanded conceptualization of literacy. 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.
The Center for Media Literacy in Santa Monica, California, created the five core concepts of media literacy, using the Canada’s eight “Key Concepts” for media literacy as a guide. The Five Core Concepts are:
1) All media messages are constructed.
2) Media messages are constructed using creative language with its own rules.
3) Different people experience the same media message differently.
4) Media have embedded values and points of view.
5) Most media messages are constructed to gain profit and/or power.