Sustainability (and such)


Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on September 7, 2014

A colleague recently asked about media literacy in corporations. Smugly, I thought this discussion was a piece of cake; after all, in the midst of all the CSR trumpet-blowing, aren’t today’s corporations much more sensitive about the need to educate citizens rather than consumers? Well, I’ve been wrestling with this sticky question for a week now, with no end in sight to unravel this hidden mess of ethics and skills.

Who, exactly, should take the lead in educating everybody about how to decipher messages, motives, and senders? While the Knight Commission issued a 2010 report calling for public and private networks to take on the mantle, existing scholarship doesn’t seem to address much besides how media literacy extends democracy and how the media industry itself shines a light on media literacy. And, while it’s admirable for the mainstream producer of messages to deconstruct its processes, we’re missing a huge piece of the pie.

And there’s the rub. In this age of transparency, we’d expect organizations to self-police issues of power, audiences, and mediated information. My students this semester are starting with a reading (“Principles for a New Media Literacy”) and video (EPIC 2015) to ground our first conversation. It’s going to be a heated debate – especially the need for journalists to critique their own involvement in the waning of the Fourth Estate – and we’d love to have you join us . . .

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