Media Literacy and General Semantics

By Hoffmann, Gregg | ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, April 2004 | Go to article overview

Media Literacy and General Semantics


Hoffmann, Gregg, ETC.: A Review of General Semantics


AFTER SEVERAL YEARS of involvement in both general semantics and media literacy, I have become convinced that the two "movements"--for lack of a better label--have so much in common that they should really get to know each other.

Don't get me wrong. Some people in both movements already know of each other. Probably the best known of those was Neil Postman, who became a legend for his media ecology program at NYU and writings about media and education. Renee Hobbs, now at Temple University, is another person well aware of the commonalities.

Don Ranly and other people at the University of Missouri have been aware of the potential ties since the days of Earl English heading the school of journalism there. I have openly used general semantics as my theoretical foundation for 20 years of media literacy work at UW-Milwaukee.

But, overall, I do not think that many people in media literacy know much about general semantics and vice versa. They really should. Here's why I say that:

First, many of the foundation principles in both disciplines have similarities, even if the terminology used differs. Media literacy people say media messages are constructions. GSers say we create maps of the territory, including media maps.

Many media literacy people say we negotiate the meaning of media messages. GSers talk about abstracting and self-reflexiveness; the mapmaker inevitably influences the map.

Media present values and ideologies in their messages, say many in the media literacy movement. GSers talk about the dangers of "paradigm paralysis" and allowing higher order abstractions to entrap us and prohibit us from actually exploring the territory. Many of us involved in GS also use a variety of tools to decipher underlying motives and values within communication.

Other theoretical similarities exist, but the commonalities between the two disciplines do not stop there. When you start to look at how the disciplines have traditionally been spread through their respective movements, you can see other commonalities.

Both media literacy and GS attract people of varying disciplines. Within the media literacy movement, you have people involved in journalism, TV entertainment, advertising, film, news media, traditional and alternative education, the arts, etc. Within the general semantics movement, we have psychologists, language arts teachers, lawyers, scientists, artists, media people, businesspersons, etc.

Naturally, these individuals from varying backgrounds bring their own perspectives to the overall fields. Each practices his or her own version of media literacy or general semantics.

This can serve as both a strength and weakness in the movements. First, I believe it shows a strength that the two disciplines can be applied across these different disciplines. It demonstrates to me that both can be used holistically, in what has become a world of specializations and fragmentation. …

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

Upgrade your membership to receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad‑free environment

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
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Media Literacy and General Semantics
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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved in your active project from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
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.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, 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." (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

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.