The upcoming Media Literacy Week on October 26-30 has nothing to do with literacy and everything to do with the ongoing leftist suppression of freedom of speech through censorship by multinational media giants.
The online resources for Media Literacy Week point to lessons on Black Lives Matter protests, the history of policing, LGBTQ+ Identity toolkits, claims of institutionalized racism, and thought leaders’ perspectives on cultural and gender marginalization in advertising.
The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) is the driving coordinator of the message and education of what is to be determined right or wrong, true or false, politically correct or immoral in media products. The organization’s website states that “issues of race, social justice, equity, and inclusion are central to media literacy education and always have been.”
That is certainly true of Media Literacy Week.
Those of us who write for a living know exactly how to wring emotions from readers, and video/audio producers are experts at leveraging shock and awe to gain desired reactions. Coupled together, those aspects make today’s technology-based media complex by their very nature.
Emotional responses are boosted and reinforced by sophisticated, repetitious methods conceived specifically for control of individuals’ perceptions of reality. The newest artificial intelligence algorithms build on decades of such experience, and media outlets use them to lull us into a false belief that we can determine the truth of any narrative.
That has led to an opening for the highfalutin-sounding “Media Literacy Week” to grow unabated for six years with its clear agenda of deciding what are facts and what are false statements in online content. The organization’s dedication to fight misinformation has morphed into demands for racial equity and social justice, taught and implemented behind the scenes through our K-12 educators, librarians, and mainstream media outlets. Proud sponsors this year: Facebook, Amazon, TikTok, among others.
How any of this teaches literacy, defined by Merriam-Webster as “knowledge that relates to a specified subject,” is indiscernible.
Developing media literacy would seem to be a pretty straightforward task: introduce people to the basic concepts behind news and information, including how and most importantly why it might be manipulated through a variety of sensory inputs, then let learners apply their knowledge to a whole range of topics and examples.
When we teach reading, we don’t limit what can and should be read, nor do we tout a political agenda as part of every utterance. As a child, newspaper comic strips and breakfast cereal boxes introduced me to words and phrases not common in my home environment, serving as a foundation for later comprehending academic papers and composing corporate messaging. Likewise, media literacy could include exposure to the entire range of technology, platforms, ideas, and opinions without worrying about the topic itself, only how to recognize the influence of each methodology so that the learner can choose, adapt, and respond accordingly with time and experience.
This year’s events for Media Literacy Week instead encompass all things political, from Facebook’s focus on educating first-time voters to Stanford University teaching civic online reasoning, and from watching Amazon-produced All In: The Fight for Democracy to transgender social and political repression in the Netflix documentary Disclosure.
Media literacy skills, like science, math, and reading, have no inherent link to politics or a particular ideology, nor should they. Muddying the education of our children, as well as adult immigrants who want to learn about their adopted country, by pushing a leftist political agenda apparently hasn’t been limited to Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States or The New York Times’ The 1619 Project. This bias permeates our virtual classrooms and conference rooms, training sessions and reference materials, leading to liberal activism on the streets and in the voting place as the next logical, and purposefully planned, step.
What is needed, instead, is to teach critical thinking and humbly acknowledge that we are human, with prejudices and misperceptions. In all the finger-pointing of bias from every side, I wonder how many so-called experts, educators, and yes, even media folks, take the time to seek out and reflect upon their own internal predispositions.
If your children participate in this innocuous-sounding program, please join with them to check the media experts’ premises and examine whether they offer objective standards or identify the etymology of words used in today’s clickbait headlines. We all need to ensure that our communications are clear and accurate rather than vague and triggering. The agenda of Media Literacy Week serves to undermine good communication in favor of political propaganda and the assertion of raw power.