Media literacy

The importance of media literacy in our media-driven culture – Daily Sundial

The average American spends up to 12 hours a day interacting with the media, according to the latest report from eMarketer. We spend more time watching TV and browsing social media than getting a good night’s sleep. Our society has become a media-driven culture, yet few universities offer courses that teach students how to consume media with a critical eye.

To properly understand the media that pervade our society, it should be mandatory for colleges to offer media education courses. The Center for Media Literacy defines media literacy as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create communications in all their forms using media and digital technology.

While taking an introductory course in mass communications at California State University, Northridge, I learned about the concept of media literacy and the importance of developing media literacy skills from Dr. Bobbie Eisenstock. After the semester was over, I was able to watch an advertisement, read a news article, or watch a TV show and question, decode, and evaluate the information presented to me.

Facebook users were furious when they discovered their personal information was being sold to Cambridge Analytica to personalize the content of their Facebook feeds. If media literacy courses were offered, more people would be able to analyze the content they consume and more people would be aware of what media companies are capable of.

CSUN, like many other CSUs, is now offering a basic information and media course starting this semester.

As part of a curriculum shift for CSUN’s journalism department, a new course called JOUR 365, News Literacy, will focus on developing information literacy skills to help assess biases, opinions and transparency in the media. The course will be taught by Dr. Eisenstock and will fulfill a journalism and higher division requirement and will also be available to non-journalism majors.

Our brains are constantly absorbing information that appears in TV shows, movies, music, books, social media, and advertisements. Being media literate means being able to apply the skills to question the accuracy of the media before believing the information.

CSUN students in all majors must take the Media Literacy course, and all non-CSUN students must require some type of Media Literacy course in their school’s curriculum. As a culture that constantly interacts with media, we are never taught how to properly interact with said media. Students can only benefit from the information contained in a media literacy course. The media isn’t going anywhere, and it’s time we as a society demand to understand what we use 12 hours a day.

Editor’s Note: The original story had the wrong byline and name. The correct name is Raychel Stewart


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