Media Literacy

Media Literacy

  • Youlead|  
  • May 25, 2021

Do you find yourself submerged in information from all existing media? Do you wish to make sense of what is being shared? If so, you are looking to be media literate, which is essential in a world where media, whether traditional or non-traditional such as social media, vie for our attention. We are all constantly bombarded by the news and social media and it can be overwhelming sometimes to make sense of it all. That is why we must be media literate.

What is media literacy?

Media literacy is the ability to identify the different types of media in a way that helps you better understand the messages they are sending. These messages can be overt or covert, and it might not always be easy to see the reason behind the piece. But to be media literate, we must always try to understand the reasoning.

How to be media literate

What is important to remember is that everything we see today, including this article, was created by someone (or a team or people). That someone or team has a set of beliefs and ideas that will influence how they write the article. It is up to us to understand and separate the author from the message and take what is necessary. Understanding why something was created helps understand what the creator wants to convey. What he or she intends to convey will skew what they are saying towards some angle. When we know that angle, we know what the creator’s message is and then we can make an informed choice.

These angles and messages are not always negative. In fact, many times, they can be positive. Some reasons include educating people through a particular piece, providing some comfort, creating a sense of peace or harmony, and also entertaining the reader, viewer or listener. What we need to know, especially in today’s highly competitive world is whether there is a negative or loaded agenda behind it. Is someone trying to make you buy something by constantly making you see ads? Is someone trying to make you vote for a particular party by having pop-up banners and ads on your social media? While it is acceptable to have these ways of communicating with a target audience, it is important for us as the targeted audience to know why these ads appear in our vision. Once we know that, we can make an informed choice (maybe through further research) about whether we want to buy that outfit or vote for that party. That is up to you, but first you must do your due diligence and not take anything at face value. It is also a good idea to check contrasting sources to see both sides of the story and then decide based on your own preferences.

Elements of media literacy

  • Question everything. Ask questions everything you see. Remember at all times that everything has a message or agenda and ask why you are seeing what you are seeing and what the creator is trying to get you to do.
  • Be critical. Don’t just follow the herd. Do your own research and understand for yourself what the subject is. Critically think about what is said, how it is said, and who said it.
  • Identify the gaps. What did the creator leave out? Why? Is that an important piece of information that would change your opinion?
  • Evaluate the emotions. What emotions did it evoke in you? Is the creator trying to raise some emotion in you so as to make you do something?
  • Is this something you would want to be part of or buy into? Does it connect well with your own beliefs? Does it challenge your views? If so, can you accept the changes to your former views?

Media can be a great tool but we have to be responsible in how we consume it. Having an open but critical mind will help you make sense of what you see and keep you safe from manipulation.

 

 

This content is the sole responsibility of its creators. Any opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government, European Union or Swiss agency for Development and Cooperation.

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