Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Media Literacy Q&A

Media Literacy For A2:

Q1.) What are the three main interpretations of the term ‘media literacy’?

The first interpretation of media literacy is that it is seen as a competence; meaning you are either media-literate or media-illiterate. The second interpretation is that media-literacy is seen as a social practice; meaning how we read existing media products and texts and how we create our own media. The third and final interpretation is that media literacy is seen as an entitlement; to protect us from the potential dangers associated with new forms of media.

Q2.) What are the definitions of ‘media literacy’ given by senior OCR A level examiners?

“The ability to create, use, analyse and understand media products, within the context of their audiences and institutions.” – Donna Cooper-Cliftlands

“A broader version of conventional literacy, which includes all visual, aural and digital forms, seeking to enable people to become more thoughtful producers and interpreters of media.” – Pete Fraser

“Media literacy can be defined as the ability to read a media text, in understanding the process of communication through the construction of an artefact and its set of representations. The ability to read a media text, in its visual or audio form, is itself paramount to understanding the meaning that a text may convey, which is dependent upon the individual, psychological and sociocultural context of the reader.” – Jason Mazzochi

“Media literacy is the ability to understand how any media text constructs its meaning as much through its form as its content.” – James Baker

“Media literacy is being able to engage not just with the immediate content of a media text, but also to be able to apply knowledge and understanding of the institutional factors that have an impact on shaping the text itself and on the messages and values embedded within the text. Media literacy also involves knowledge and understanding of how different audiences in different times and places may interpret the text in different ways. Crucially, the media-literate reader of the text is able to see that his/her own reading of the text may well be at odds with that applied by some or all of the target audience.” – Wayne O’Brien

Q3.) What are the concerns about modern culture and how it is “saturated” by media and entertainment?

The concerns certain people hold about modern culture and it’s obsession with the media and entertainment begins with anxieties about those who are fully engrossed in it day in, day out as there are concerns that these people will lose control of what they’re doing, where they are virtually and how they are communicating. Other concerns stem from the belief that these people are missing out on more “enriching” culture such as novels, plays, news and art.

Q4.) Although there are concerns about modern culture and it’s obsession with the media and entertainment, Steven Johnson believes otherwise. What is his response to modern culture and it’s obsession with new media forms?

Steven Johnson believes that modern culture is becoming more sophisticated and demanding when it comes to the choice of media products available to them. He believes that people are becoming more intelligent and “sharper” and that those who have concerns should not be worried as blogging is a new, participatory form of communication while gamers display intense, motivational energy.

Q5.) What is the main difference between an AS media studies student and an A2 media student?

An AS media student can simply use and make media while an A2 student must be media-literate enough to create media material that observes a set of conventions and has an informed, research-based mode of address for their audience. They will also be able to theorise their own media texts and products as well as existing media products and texts using ideas such as post-modernism, democracy, representation and discourse.

Q6.) What is Web 2.0 and what impact has this had on the media?

Web 2.0 is known as the second phase of the Internet and is defined as a new stage by the huge increase of content and ideas being shared by ordinary people online. This new phase of the Internet has had a big impact on the way in which media products are distributed and exchanged.

Q7.) How does Web 2.0 affect literacy?

In relation to literacy, experts see Web 2.0 as a profound historical shift in how people communicate with each other, how they read and write and what these things now mean. This leads to the concept of new literacies.

New Literacies:

Q1.) How did Freire describe literacy and what did he say about those who don’t have it?

Freire said that those who don’t have the simple ability to read and write are disempowered in relation to the social structures of society. There are many things they cannot conceptualise, understand or participate in. Freire also stated that for those who aren’t literate it is very difficult to develop a critical view of the world and so they can be kept in their place, oppressed and some cases even controlled.

Q2.) What did Lankshear and Knobel say about Freire’s thoughts on literacy and how it affects those who don’t have it?

Lankshear and Knobel said that learning how to read and write was an integral part of learning to understand how the world operates socially and culturally in ways that promote unequal opportunities and outcomes for different groups of people. They said that ultimately this understanding was the starting point to take action on the world in an attempt to change it and make it more just.

Q3.) What did Gordon Brown’s Government believe about immigrants working and claiming benefits in the UK and how does this relate to Freire and his beliefs?

Gordon Brown’s Labour Government believed that immigrants, who want to live, work and claim benefits in the UK should learn to read, write and speak English in order to integrate well into British society, if not they are excluding themselves from the values of the country they have chosen to move to. This understanding of literacy places the responsibility of being accepted onto the individual. If the individual chooses to not learn English the general assumption seems to be that this person is much more likely to see themselves as outsiders and are far more likely to be seen by Britain as an enemy.

Q4.) What belief did Freire and Gordon Brown’s Government share?

Freire and Gordon Brown’s Government both shared the belief that literacy is linked to social change. However Freire looked at literacy as a way out of social control while the Government saw the obligation of literacy as a form of social control.

Q5.) Explain the dualistic nature of media literacy and what OFCOM believes this creates?

Media literacy is dualistic in the sense that it can be seen as an empowering tool where those who are media literate have the ability to understand how the media is constructed and from this can be critical of it and strive for change, even resisting strong media influences. Regulatory body OFCOM agrees with this believing that media literacy creates more responsible consumers that have no need for censorship as they can self-regulate their media use, so the chances of them being negatively affected by violent video games or offensive rap music decreases as they have the skills to deconstruct or decode what they are hearing/seeing/ playing. This achieves empowerment, social justice and social control mixed together.

Q6.) What does James Gee believe people need to be able to do to be successful in society?

James Gee believes that people need to be able to operate within several different literacies in order to be successful in society. He states that a higher level of literacy is achieved by those who understand how to use different literacies at different times depending on the situation and audience. This is known as ‘powerful literacy’ and is based on discourse. A good example of powerful literacy is the example of a football commentator. When someone watches or listens to football, whether that be on the telly or on the radio, the commentator uses subject specific lexis such as “keeping it tight” and “losing the shape”, at this point we either understand or we don’t, therefore being included or excluded from the discourse of football. However if we have the ability to switch from one discourse to another, for example from football to a meeting, without thinking about it then we are working with more than one literacy.

Digital Literacy:

Q1.) What are the cultural developments arising from technological change and how do they fit in with digital literacy?

YouTube, Facebook, on demand media, video games and MP3s are the new cultural developments arising from technological change and are part of the new ways in which we communicate. In terms of inclusion and exclusion digital literacy can be seen as a tool for reducing the ‘digital divide’.

Memes & Remix:

Q1.) What is an internet meme?

An internet meme is one of the new ways in which people are communicating due to the outcome of Web 2.0. It is a popular term for describing the rapid uptake and spread of a particular idea, signified in an interesting and novel way. When someone passes on a meme it seen as them reinforcing their own sense of the world. One example of an internet meme is the YouTube video ‘Read my lips Bush/Blair love song’ in which George Bush and Tony Blair were pictured singing Endless Love to each other, this video received rapid popularity and was then viewed across a whole range of more traditional media.

OFCOM & Media Literacy:

Q1.) Discuss the main issues that were raised in the OFCOM Media Literacy Research Forum in 2008.

One of the main issues that was raised in the OFCOM Media Literacy Research Forum was how media literacy is framed by the need to educate and develop people so they can access, analyse, evaluate and create media; this issue links back to Donna Cooper-Cliftlands definition of media literacy where she believes that having the ability to create, use and understand media is the key to being media literate. Another issue was that people find it difficult to trust the media, especially television due to rigged phone votes and the expose of distorting documentaries. However people are too trusting on the Internet due to their lack of media literacy, they find it hard to evaluate Internet content and don’t know what to trust or believe. The next issue raised was that OFCOM are “outsourcing” the responsibility of regulation to media-literate individuals as they are able to self-regulate and decide what will and won’t affect them. Another was the confusion between “DIY” media production and media literacy, the confusion being the question “If you make videos and put them on YouTube, does that make you media-literate or do you need further education?” This question depends on the definitions of media literacy and as there as so many is difficult to answer. The board of experts also discussed how it is important not to assume that young people are all ‘digital natives’. This is important because everyone assumes they are and so a real social problem is emerging where young people who are not media savvy feel too embarrassed to admit it and so they suffer in silence. To be media-illiterate now carries as much stigma for teenagers as being unable to read and write.

Q2.) What does Robin Blake of OFCOM believe about media literacy?

Robin Blake believes that media literacy is the literacy of our time. However while this is correct, we cannot just expect media literacy to develop as modern media can be illegible, hard to understand and even hard to trust compared with analogue culture.

Media Literacy for A2:

Q1.) What does David Gauntlett suggest in relation to media studies and Web 2.0?

David Gauntlett suggests that Web 2.0 is the basis for a new kind of media studies spec and that now is the time to consider media studies 2.0. He stated that if media studies 2.0 were to happen it would be defined by the view of the Internet and new digital media not as an ‘optional extra’ but with the recognition that they have fundamentally changed the ways in which we engage with all media.

Q2.) What questions arise from the development of media studies 2.0?

Questions that arise from the development of media studies 2.0 include: Do people watch television in the traditional sense anymore? Are there any distinct media institutions in the era of convergence? If you can share music on Facebook with your ‘friends’ and they can purchase it at the click of a mouse and then access the video immediately on YouTube, how does this change the music industry? And finally is there still such a thing as ‘the audience’ in this day and age?

Q3.) What else does Gauntlett suggest about the media in reference to Web 2.0 and media students in particular?

Gauntlett suggests that people do not just get represented by the traditional media anymore, instead they use Web 2.0 to create their own media, share it with the world and in the process represent themselves. This affects media students as they now need to engage with these new ways that people make sense of their identities and through the media express this, therefore moving away from media 1.0 and moving into media 2.0.

Q4.) What is the difference between media 1.0 and media 2.0 and what do Dan Gillmoor and John Hartley have to say on this matter?

The difference between media 1.0 and media 2.0 is that 2.0 is more about the people and less about the media in isolation. Dan Gillmor wrote a book entitled ‘We, The Media’ in which he says media 2.0 enables people to participate in politics and news by producing their own accounts of real events and commenting immediately and loudly on official journalism. Three years later in 2007 academic John Hartley described the shift from a demand led market of creative industries to a market of social networking, in which he described the long tail of media distribution.

Britney 2.0 & Fan Culture:

Q1.) How does Britney Spears relate to Web 2.0?

In 2007 popstar Britney Spears went into meltdown, infamously shaving her hair and attacking cars with umbrellas. The following year in 2008 Tony Blair’s press officer and spin doctor Alistair Campbell said that Britney was no longer treated as a human being but primarily as a new commodity, this being amplified by online information about her such as online and rolling news, blogs and YouTube videos. This makes us look at Web 2.0 as a negative thing as the easy accessibility of video sharing and social networking sites such as YouTube and Facebook helped to exploit Britney and lead to her downfall.

Q2.) How does fan culture relate to Web 2.0 and what does Hills believe fandom is a form of?

In today’s world of media 2.0, fan mash-ups and ‘sweded’ video material are ever present, being posted on sites such as YouTube within hours of the official broadcast being shown; this being something that media producers now have to accept. Hills believed that fandom is a form of cultural expression and that broadband internet can accelerate interpretations and re-imaging of media products.

Q3.) What does Gauntlett have to say on Web 2.0 and what does this lead him to suggest?

Gauntlett argues that the media play a role in the construction of identity but don’t have a big role to play in relation to other aspects of social experience. This lead him to suggest that media studies, until now, has been too interested in just the media and not people and how they give meaning to culture.