Gus writes, "November 2-6 was Media Literacy Week, that great traditional festival of questioning everything we read and talking back to the TV. OK, so it's only ten years old... and this is the first year it's been formally observed in the United States, which has long lagged behind other English-speaking countries in media literacy initiatives (even South Africa before the fall of apartheid!) [pdf]. But why shouldn't it become a tradition? It makes a great lead-in to Buy Nothing Day at the end of November."
To celebrate, our hacker-friendly puppets at The Media Show posted a new episode, answering the questions Is news real? and Why is the news so depressing? -- questions that Google search autocomplete suggests a number of people are asking. The episode explores how local news sticks to sensationalist content to keep people's eyes glued to the screen, ensuring that news shows are competitively able to attract advertising.
Of course, media literacy shouldn't be limited to one week of the year -- best practices say analyzing media should be worked into the curriculum year-round!
Looking for more materials to encourage media literacy?
The Media Literacy Week site has extensive resources. Canadian organization Media Smarts has been a key organizer of the effort.
NAMLE, the National Association for Media Literacy Education, is a central rallying point for media literacy in the United States, and was central to getting Media Literacy Week launched in the US.
University of Rhode Island professor Renee Hobbs has been a force for improving and spreading media literacy for years, developing resources that include a guide to copyright for teachers.
The LAMP in New York City has resources which align with Common Core standards, making them quick for teachers to pick up.
And The Media Show's back catalog includes episodes on product placement, advertising strategies, science claims in marketing campaigns, and internet-related topics like how Facebook knows who your friends are and where spam comes from.
Media Literacy Week
Ariel Waldman writes, “Neutrinos are tiny particles spit out by supernovas that were rumored to travel faster than light. Even though we still don’t have FTL spaceships (sigh), I share with you why neutrinos are still freaking amazing.”
John Deere is notorious for arguing that farmers who buy its tractors actually “license” them because Deere still owns the copyright to the tractors’ software; in 2015, the US Copyright Office affirmed that farmers were allowed to jailbreak their tractors to effect repairs and modifications.
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