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Being Media Literate

Different forms of media. PHOTO/ Flickr Creative Commons
Different forms of media. PHOTO/ Flickr Creative Commons

By Milette Millington

Published: November 22nd, 2017

According to the Media Literacy Project, media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. Media literacy is necessary to learn, especially now, because it applies directly to the controversies between government and the media. This is certainly true in politics. We are now under a presidential administration that has challenged the power of the media to accurately report news stories.

News outlets are not only doing print stories, but they are also using modern technology to advance their stories—technology wasn’t used so often when my parents were growing up. A study conducted by researchers at Elon University was published in the university’s Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications explaining the uses of technologies in the news. “It seems that one technological discovery is quickly replaced by something more impressive and efficient. As a result, ‘old-fashioned’ technologies to which we have been accustomed in the past are forced to fight for survival or surrender,” the study claims. In the age of the Internet, online news businesses are popping up daily, leaving print news in the dust. As a result, many newspapers are realizing they need to tailor their news-delivering techniques to be quicker and more accessible.

The development of “fake news” has complicated the current climate. I believe that news organizations are making an effort to make people aware of the threat that arises from this “fake news” phenomena. “The implications of not doing so will further shake trust and credibility in our institutions needed for a growing and stable democracy. Artificial intelligence (AI) should help, but technological solutions won’t be enough. We also need high-touch solutions and a reinforcement of norms that value accuracy to address this challenge,” Timothy Herbst, senior vice president at ICF International noted.

In my opinion, schools can better train journalists by having classes that emphasize the necessities of reporting and the essential nature of research. Brooklyn College exemplifies this. I strongly believe that there is no reason to put the blame on journalists or the companies. I think that faith in the media is declining because there has been a growing level of doubt as to whether stories reported on by news outlets are valid and logical.

I follow news organizations including The Huffington Post, CNN, CBS and The New York Times, and I do additional research on the quality of content produced by that organization and their reputation in our society.

Citizen journalism, as I see it, is only a small part of the response to this dilemma; the solution should be more collective. Citizens and professional journalists should not be the only ones working together, but community leaders and officials should collaborate as well.

The presence of stereotypes in the media are a major highlight of the lack of diversity, which is essential to effective communication. Without diversity, there is no variety in perspective. Stereotypes need to change also, so that all aspiring journalists, regardless of race, ethnic background, gender, social class or socioeconomic status, have a chance at pursuing their dreams in journalism. The qualifications and capabilities of aspiring journalists should matter most over anything else.

Journalism will continue to perpetuate its basic foundations; however, the use of technology will gradually increase as the field progresses. I say this because many individuals in this country have become increasingly dependent upon the Internet and technology in general since the creation of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. I also think that the use of accurate data and statistics, as well as tests of accuracy and truthfulness, will be essential to the quality of news.

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