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Citizen Journalists and Media Literacy

Citizen journalists (I’m one of many) are not professional journalists.  Citizen journalists are people with strong opinions making their voices heard in the media and in personal blogs.

Professionals, on the other hand, are trained in the art and craft of journalism: combination of talent and multiple skills requiring tremendous discipline  —  intellect (knowledge, analysis, attention to detail), accuracy, integrity, tenacity, and people-skills, to name a few.

Internet has enabled ordinary citizens to participate in journalism; making their voices heard, creating history’s first draft.  But with privilege also comes responsibility.  It’s important that we citizens participate responsibly.

Media literacy — learning to become critical consumers of online information — should become a prerequisite for all citizen journalists.  The best place to begin is grade school.

What then is media literacy?
(1) Stage 1 — simply becoming aware of the importance of managing one’s media “diet” i.e., making choices and reducing the time spent on reading and watching the media.

(2) Stage 2 — Learning specific skills of critical viewing — learning to analyze and question what one sees, how it is constructed and what may have been left out.

(3) Stage 3 — Learning to go beyond the visible and explore deeper issues. Who produces the media we experience and for what purpose? Who profits? Who loses? Who decides?

This stage of social, political and economic analysis looks at how everyone in society makes meaning from media experiences, and how the mass media drive our global consumer economy.  This inquiry can sometimes set the stage for various media advocacy effort to challenge or redress public policies or corporate practices.With privilege comes responsibility.

When ordinary citizens choose to participate in journalism — to promote change and shape public opinion — the least we can do is to become educated consumers and producers of news (we ought to be held accountable to a certain standard of integrity and accuracy).

Do you agree or disagree?


December 11, 2008 - Posted by | Attitude, Citizen, Introspection, Journalism, Mind, Purpose, Soul, Spirit, Technology | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. My favorite definition of media literacy comes from Canada:

    “Media literacy is concerned with helping students develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature of mass media, the techniques used by them, and the impact of these techniques. More specifically, it is education that aims to increase the students’ understanding and enjoyment of how the-media work, how they produce meaning, how they are organized, and how they construct reality.
    Media literacy also aims to provide students with the ability to create media products. ”
    ( Media Literacy Resource Guide, Ministry of Education Ontario, 1997)

    Comment by Frank Baker | December 13, 2008 | Reply

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