Sunday, March 13, 2011

Getting Active with Mediactive

Dan Gilmour has a project called , MediactiveHe calls this "a combination website plus book plus more — an initiative that aims to help folks navigate the media flow that we’re all facing in this new age."

Gillmor teaches and directs a media center at Arizona State University.   His stated goal "is to help people become active and informed users of media, as consumers and as creators. We are in a media-saturated age, more so all the time, and we need to find ways to use media to our — and our society’s — best advantage."

I purchased the ebook and have been following the blog.  Already, my students and I have benefited from his principles for media consumers.  I've included some excerpts, below.

1. Be skeptical of absolutely everything.

We can never take entirely for granted the absolute trustworthiness of what we read, see or hear from media of any kind. This is the case for information from traditional news organizations, blogs, online videos and every other form. . . .the unfortunate tendency of assigning apparently equal weight to opposing viewpoints when one is right and the other is wrong, are not adequate substitutes for actual journalism; you don’t need a quote from Hitler when you’re doing a story about the Holocaust. The reader/listener/viewer needs to keep an eye out for such behavior.

2. Although skepticism is essential, don’t be equally skeptical of everything.

. . . .Part of our development as human beings is the creation of what we might call  . . . .a “trust meter” instead of a BS meter. Either way, I imagine it ranging, say, from +30 to –30. Using that scale, a news article in the New York Timesor Wall Street Journal might start out in strongly positive territory, perhaps at +26 or +27 on the trust meter. (I can think of very few journalists who start at +30 on any topic.)An anonymous comment on a random blog, by contrast, starts with negative credibility, say –26 or –27. . . .

3. Go outside your personal comfort zone.

The “echo chamber” effect–our tendency as human beings to seek information that we’re likely to agree with–is well known. To be well informed, we need to seek out and pay attention to sources of information that will offer new perspectives and challenge our own assumptions. 

4. Ask more questions.

This principle goes by many names: research, reporting, homework, and many others. The more personal or important you consider the topic at hand, the more essential it becomes to follow up on the media that cover the topic.

5. Understand and learn media techniques.

Media-creation skills are becoming part of the development process for many children in the developed world, less so for children in the developing world. In America and other economically advanced nations, teenagers and even younger children are digital natives.
These principles make complete sense to me, and I have shared them with my kids.  I recommend that you check out the project and see if there is something there for you too.

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