GENERAL PRINCIPLES IN MEDIA LITERACY
by Patricia Aufderheide
We know about the world primarily from the media. But the media don't simply give us the world. They interpret reality, tailor it, perform it. In order to be responsible citizens, we need to be media literate. To help you engage in that process, here are eight "key concepts" of media literacy.
1. All media are constructions. Media do not simply reflect reality. They present productions, which have specific purposes. The success of these productions lies in their apparent naturalness. They don't look like constructions. But they are, and many different constraints and decisions have gone into why they look the way they do.
2. The media construct reality. While they themselves are constructions, media productions also construct within each of our heads a notion of the real. We each carry within us a model of reality, based on our observations and experiences. Using that model, we believe that we're capable of distinguishing truth from lies, and are confident that we won't let "them" pull the wool over our eyes. But much of our model of reality comes from the media we've seen, or that other people whom we take as models (our parents, our teachers) have seen. So it's not as easy as it might seem to draw the line between personal lived experience and the world of "the media." In fact, the media are constructing our sense of reality each day.