Review: Media Literacy
Resources from New Mexico
By Jamie McKenzie
In a new century characterized by media consolidation, spin, the PhotoShopping of reality and the routine distortion of news, the urgency of equipping the young with media literacy skills has taken on a sense of urgency. One organization, the New Mexico Media Literacy Project, offers a series of DVDs, CDs and learning units that can prove quite useful to a school that has made such skill building a high priority. A complete list is available on their Web site at http://www.nmmlp.org/store/all_titles.html
This review will mention just one of these products as an example of what the organization has to offer.
The Media Literacy Toolbox ($99) is a DVD offering "over 100 media examples from TV commercials, magazine ads, excerpts from TV and radio shows, newspaper and magazine articles as well as over 200 pages of activity and discussion guides." NMMLP claims that the Toolbox is "a complete introduction to media literacy concepts, skills and applications." It also claims, "It can help you improve your ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and produce media messages of all kinds, and to become an active participant in our media culture."
The Contents, reproduced below, are impressive:
What makes the program attractive, in addition to the extensive written support materials, is the array of media examples that can be played in the classroom for the students to critique and deconstruct.
In a ten page PDF file, "The Language of Persuasion," (one of five such documents included with this package), the group identifies and defines forty (40) persuasion techniques, dividing them into three levels of difficulty or complexity. For each of these techniques, then, the DVD provides a media example. It might be a print ad from L'Oreal, for example, using FEAR as a persuasion technique to sell an anti-aging skin creme. It might be a clip from a documentary looking at how REPETITION is used to sell products to the point that CLUTTER becomes a real challenge for both the consumer and the advertiser. A Ford TV ad is used to illustrate TESTIMONIAL. There are forty resources here that would normally take a teacher a very long time to identify and share with students.
While the Ford Edge Swap commercials can be found at YouTube, YouTube is often blocked by schools (See article "Breaking The YouTube Blockade") and YouTube's user agreement terms and conditions prohibit such showing of videos to groups.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIUZWvOyFSE&feature=related For those fortunate enough to have access to online media resources, these can serve to supplement the examples on the DVD, as it turns out that there are quite a few Ford Edge ads available that could be the basis for extended inquiry and discussion. One is pitched at Hispanic buyers. One is pitched at buyers in the Middle East. The DVD might serve as the jumping off point for a much wider media search. Meanwhile, the convenient access to clear definitions and pertinent examples is worth far more than the $99 charged for this DVD.
To provide some sense of the scope and the power of this resource, consider the forty persuasion techniques illustrated by the DVD:
||Warm & Fuzzy
|The Big Lie
|Cause vs. Correlation
The June 2009 issue of The Question Mark suggested that schools must make media literacy a priority - "Questioning Video, Film, Advertising and Propaganda: Deconstructing Media Messages." Materials like those provided by the New Mexico Media Literacy Project help classroom teachers convert these goals into realities.
Order your copy of The Media Literacy Toolbox from the FNO Store