Media literacy is a vital skill, allowing people to analyze and understand how messages, particularly those designed to persuade (whether presented anywhere from television news programs to Facebook advertisements), are crafted and how they exert their influence. A person who is able to recognize and mitigate the hidden influence of others is freer and more able to form reasoned opinions. Media literacy also helps you responsibly frame your own messages, communicating in the clearest way possible and provoking thought without undue manipulation.
Media Literacy Week is October 26-30, and is hosted by the National Association for Media Literacy Education. Each day will focus on an aspect of media literacy: Access on Monday, Analyze on Tuesday, followed by Evaluate, Create, and finally Act on Friday. NAMLE offers plenty of resources and learning tools for each aspect, aimed at all ages on their website.
The library offers a lot material as well, including databases built around understanding communication and media, like Communication & Mass Media Complete and ProQuest Telecommunications. Books like Media Literacy: Seeking Honesty, Independence, and Productivity in Today’s Mass Messages by Deidre Pike, Fact Vs. Fiction: Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in the Age of Fake News by Jennifer LaGarde, Developing Media Literacy in Cyberspace: Pedagogy and Critical Learning for the Twenty-First Century Classroom by Julie Frechette, or Media Literacies: A Critical Introduction by Michael Hoechsmann can also help media scholars. The library also has a guide for performing research in the communications field, and another for identifying and combatting fake news, one of the most significant and pernicious threats to becoming a media literate person.
The library also contains numerous news sources ready for your critical eye, both contemporary and ones from yesteryear. Current news sources like Newspaper Source and ProQuest News & Newspapers index thousands of news outlets for you to choose from, and older ones like Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Burney Newspapers Collection, and Illustrated London News Historical Archive-1842-2003 can serve research into how the phenomenon of misleading, manipulative or false news sources and ‘yellow’ journalism has played out over the centuries, such as the 1888 forgery, likely by employees of the Star (a British paper, included in the British Library Newspapers database) of at least two perverse ‘letters’ from a serial killer to drum up circulation (these were the first ones to use the name ‘Jack the Ripper’, and start with the salutation ‘boss’). This one is from the Star’s October 4, 1888 issue:
Interested in learning more about media literacy, and how messages are crafted to win your trust? Ask us! firstname.lastname@example.org