Federal Communications Commission

Media Literacy in the Digital Age

July 8th, 2010 by Andrew Kaplan - Special Assistant to the Future of Media project

By Karen Archer Perry

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."  
Mark Twain realized that literacy meant not just reading and writing but critical thinking, analysis and discernment.   In this digital age of information overload and self-publishing, Mark Twain’s understanding of literacy resonates anew. In the vast space of internet information, it’s ever more important to have an educated citizenry: one that can separate credible information from that which is unfounded and one that contributes constructively to civic discourse.
Media itself is being redefined as part of this new landscape of unlimited space and easy entry points to online publishing. In the new information ecosystem, a high responsibility falls on both producers and consumers of information. For consumers, there is endless material – and the challenge is to find the good blogs, videos, essays, news stories and documentaries of our time. Producers, on the other hand, bear responsibility to adhere to high standards of accuracy, diligence and transparency.
According to the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in Democracy, successful participation in the digital age of media requires, in part, “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create the information products.”[i] 
But what should “media literacy” or “digital literacy” entail?
 The National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), has included media literacy in the Common Core Standards for what American school children should learn. They write:
“To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to conduct research and to produce and consume media is embedded into every aspect of today’s curriculum. In like fashion, research and media skills and understandings are embedded throughout the Standards rather than treated in a separate section.” [ii]
Do you agree?

[i] Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age, the Report of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in Democracy,” 2009, The Aspen Institute, page 45, www.knightcomm.org.

[ii] “National Governors Association and State Education Chiefs Launch Common State Academic Standards,” News Release from NGA Center and CCSSO, June 2, 2010, http://www.corestandards.org/news, retrieved June 28, 2010.

3 Responses to “Media Literacy in the Digital Age”

  1. Casey says:

    Well, the gather and report is there, it would be nice to see more comprehension and evaluation.

  2. Guest says:


  3. Guest says:

    It is not necessary for all to attend college. It is no measure of intelligence, intellect or creative thought and endeavour or achievement in having to go to college; this was evidence by Bill Gates, and Andrew Carnegie, and so many others. Reading and being able to disseminate, evaluate, gather and comprehend information is critical to us all. This segregation of college vs. non college is creating a vaste divide and bitterness among our citizens. It is no measure of what you can achieve, or measure of not being able to run a corporation or get a promotion! It is preventing many from achieving the 'American Dream', because it annihilates the middle class further. Information had digitally is lacking because it fails to replace books completely. Access to knowlege via the internet is in drone fashion. Which explains why someone researching via the web (without access to 'pay' sites) will find the same information as anyone else; there is no new or varied information access. In order to collect varied information, one has to pay. Most of us cannot afford to pay for that type of informational access. Libraries have historically been the source of this information. But the digitalization of the media is destroying libraries in many neighbourhoods! And so with that goes the intellectual creative mind. Our educational process does not teach the young to research, or produce new thought. When one has a new thought, one is ostracized or bullied or made to think that unless one thinks like others, one is strange or a misfit of sorts. Our educational process does not teach and discourages critical, analytical, and discerning thinking. It is encouraged in money/business matters that enable a small group to steal from us all (Enron, AIG, etc.). It is encouraged when saying that Americans are ill equipped in science matters.
    Information and media are two seperate and unequal things. The media is driven by money. And therefor, it is onesided and tainted. Even the government's access to media is tainted and onesided, based upon party lines and affiliations, and corporate/banking sponsors and lobbyists. The mere fact that we, as Americans, were forced to go digital rather than remain anologue in our media is a statement in itself; because digitalization can create any vision, real or imaginary, on a screen. Thereby being able to control people at a whim. Digital media can not only be for children to learn, as many of us continue to be ignorant about digital media. There is a large part of our Americans and non Americans here with us that have not even ventured onto a computer, even to play solitaire. And so it becomes necessary to educate every necessary person on this platform. Or do we wait until 'those fossils' die out, and just be concerned with those of us that are familiar and part of, as well as the children?
    The digital medium is not democratic at all. It leaves many out, perhaps, too many out. It conjures fear to those that are not familiar; and keeps many ignorant to our disservice.
    And so I guess I disagree and agree at the same time.

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