The problems of contemporary media education are twofold. First there is the field's complex history -- its different and often contradictory roots and its internal tribalisms. Those factions and antagonisms seriously cloud the picture of the field held by others and they do much to inhibit it from taking a more coherent central place at the heart of the academy.
Second, there are the field's frequent failures to recognize the strength of what it has to offer, the way its core elements and themes directly address many of the key criticisms of higher education. However, the field needs to be certain that in each of its core elements there is an appreciation of their deeper meanings and potential contradictions. In the busy, harried pace of faculty and administrative life there is always the temptation to resort to slogans and symbols. A measure of media education's strength and of its enduring value to the academy will be its willingness to resist such tendencies and to be prepared to press the core issues as far as its intellectual imperatives dictate.
It has often been said that the best of media education is one of the finest preparations for citizenship. It would appear that the core elements of the field directly support just that goal. It is the continuing responsibility of media educators to keep their eyes on that longer term civic purpose and to continue to interrogate their own statements of intent and their actual curricula to be sure they express more than surface-level convictions.
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