Media Literacy

By Kamerer, David | Communication Research Trends, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Media Literacy


Kamerer, David, Communication Research Trends


1. Prologue

Senator William Proxmire, D-Wisconsin, famously made fun of government waste with his "Golden Fleece" awards, which were "given to the biggest, most ridiculous or most ironic example of government waste." In December 1978, he selected the United States office of Education:

For spending $219,592 to develop a "curriculum package" to teach college students how to watch television. The product of the contract, according to its recipient, will enable college students to "...distinguish between television's fact and fiction, recognize Its various viewpoints, and evaluate its messages."

Under its Special Projects Act, the Office of Education--which has in fact developed some outstanding programs, like Sesame Street and the Electric Company--has let four contracts totaling $823,651 to develop "critical television viewing skills" at the elementary, middle, secondary, and post-secondary school levels. Another $800,000 to train teachers and distribute the materials developed and tested in phase one is contemplated. In view of the amount of violence on television or the attempt of advertisers to aim commercials at children, there may be some justification for the elementary, middle, or secondary proposals. But the spending of $219,000 for the college program gets such low ratings it should be cancelled. (Wisconsin State Historical Society, 2013)

Proxmire's award had the effect of marginalizing the field of media literacy education in the public's mind. While media literacy and education has deep roots, the field grew substantially in the 1960s, bringing together disparate elements including film theory, access to new tools such as videotape, and new ideas from scholars such as Marshall McLuhan, largely played out in classrooms from primary school to college.

Proxmire's news release continued:

   The grant raises a whole series of issues. Should
   the government be involved in developing curricula
   to teach students how to watch the mass
   media? If needed, why shouldn't it be done by
   individual university faculties to fit their own
   specific needs? Why shouldn't the materials be
   developed and produced by one of the many private
   textbook publishing houses? Is it clear that
   college students are, in fact, watching too much
   television or that they are unable to criticize it
   intelligently? Should the federal government be
   offering inducements for the proliferation of
   new courses to substitute for the limited time
   students have for fundamental subjects?

   In my view, in this period of inflation and
   budget stringency the money should not be spent
   at all.

This criticism has been revisited many times by media literacy advocates. If media literacy education is added to a curriculum, then what should be removed? What ages are appropriate for this kind of instruction? And where is the natural home of media literacy education? English classes have proven popular, in part due to the affinity of film and television for fictional narratives. And media literacy education has been found in media production classes, "American studies," and other social science classes. But others have advocated that media literacy education should be taught across the curriculum.

When Proxmire gave his Golden Fleece award, media literacy education was growing for a reason. Media had become pervasive in society, and media use was on the rise. Consider how television had grown by the end of the 1970s: the average screen size had increased to 21 inches; cable television was in 16 million homes; the remote control empowered viewers; half of all homes had multiple televisions; and the television became a connecting point for video games and video cassette recorders (Carey, 2002). According to Nielsen, the average household had a set on for 6 hours and 36 minutes a day in 1980 (TVB, 2013).

Examined from another perspective, America had just experienced the Viet Nam war, the first "living room war" played out on television. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Media Literacy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.