Media Literacy Week 2023 Rundown

Media Literacy Week is happening now through Friday, October 27th! Hosted by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), this week is dedicated to highlighting the importance and power of media literacy education.

Teaching media literacy skills is a significant component of the Journalistic Learning Initiative’s (JLI) mission. We believe the need for young people to be able to sift through the hurricane of bad information online has never been more apparent. So let’s take a moment to understand what media literacy is, why it’s essential, and how you can seize opportunities to learn more about it this week!

What Media Literacy Is

Media literacy is the ability to analyze media for its credibility and participate in its creation. As the Center for Media Literacy defines it, media literacy education involves helping students develop a “framework for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, creating and participating with media content.”

Why It’s Essential

Such a framework is imperative as it has become increasingly difficult to tell fact from fiction on the internet. And though young people spend a great deal of time online, they’re not immune from being deceived, as a 2016 study involving nearly 8,000 middle schoolers found that 80% of students couldn’t tell the difference between a real news story and an advertisement.

More recently, AI has exacerbated the issue. Several AI-generated images went viral this year, fooling internet users by the millions. Clearly, a refined set of skills is needed in an era when seeing is no longer believing.

Media literacy education is so crucial now that last year, the National Council of Teachers of English called upon “educators at all levels” to “help learners develop the knowledge, skills, and competencies needed for life in an increasingly digital and mediated world.”

Leaders across the country are also calling upon educators to teach media literacy skills in their classrooms. Just this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill requiring media literacy instruction from kindergarten to 12th grade.

California is the most recent state to require media literacy instruction as a part of its core curriculum, joining the likes of New Jersey, Delaware, and Texas. Several other states also acknowledge the prescient need to require some form of media education, including Illinois, Florida, Ohio, Nebraska, Colorado, and more.

Opportunities to Learn More

The NAMLE’s theme for this year’s media literacy week is “Access, Analyze, Evaluate, Create, and Act.” Each of the five components will be emphasized on a different day of the week, with “Access” being today’s theme leading up to “Act” on Friday. The organization is hosting free virtual events all week long for educators who want to include media literacy in their curriculum.

We’re excited to announce that the NAMLE invited JLI to host an event on Wednesday titled “Ask, Interview, Write: Journalistic Strategies to Engage Secondary Students in Media Literacy and Civics Education.” You can register for this event or any other Media Literacy Week event by clicking here.

On the NAMLE’s website, you can find additional resources like this “Decoding Media Bias” activity plan from PBS Newshour Extra, or this “How to Conduct a ‘Close Analysis’ of a Media ‘Text’” exercise from the Center for Media Literacy.

Outside of the NAMLE, we recommend picking up this excellent handbook for inspecting social media and news stories titled Bias is All Around You, by Dr. Erik Bean, an associate professor of English at the University of Phoenix. Dr. Bean’s handbook is brief, practical, and comprehensive, and gives educators a great point of reference when helping students gain a deep understanding of bias and the role it plays in our media consumption.

Lastly, the JLI’s Effective Communicators program is a 10-week long project-based instruction plan infused with journalistic strategies that will help your 6th to 12th-grade students build critical thinking and media literacy skills in a cohesive, meaningful way. We call it Effective Communicators because that’s exactly what it’s designed to help your students become!

Over 100 teachers across seven states have implemented this program in their classroom and more than a thousand students have benefited from participating in it. If you want your students to develop media literacy skills and discover their voice while engaging in self-directed learning, you can check out our Effective Communicators course by clicking here.

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