H/T to Will for passing on this great post from the Center for Citizen Media. It’s an excellent review of recent trends and has a nice little section on media literacy that focuses on principles rather than techniques. Here is a snip:
* Be skeptical. We need to be skeptical of just about all media. This means not taking or granted the trustworthiness of what we read, see or hear from media of all kinds, whether from traditional news organizations, blogs, online videos or you name it.
* Use an internal “trust meter.” But being skeptical of everything doesn’t mean being equally skeptical of everything. That’s why we need to bring to the modern media the same kinds of parsing we learned in a less complex time when there were only a few primary sources of information. Imagine a credibility scale ranging from plus 10 to minus 10. I give a New York Times or Wall Street Journal article an automatic plus 8 or 9; I don’t assume perfection but I do trust that, in articles by most reporters for those publications, a strong effort went into getting it right. An anonymous comment on a random blog, by contrast, starts at minus 8 or 9; it would have to go a long way to merely have zero credibility.
* Learn media techniques. Younger people are getting pretty good at this already. What I suspect they — and almost everyone else — lacks in this regard is understanding how communications are designed to persuade, and how we can be manipulated. We need to teach ourselves, and our children, about how media work in ways that go far beyond knowing how to take a snapshot with a mobile phone or posting something in a blog.
* Keep reporting. No one with any common sense buys a car solely based on a TV commercial. We do some homework. It’s the kind of research and follow-up that journalists do. So let’s call it reporting. We need to recognize the folly of making any major decision about our lives based on something we read, hear or see — and the need to keep reporting, sometimes in major ways, to ensure that we make good choices.
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